This is probably completely blasphemous to many people, but I just tried to read The Hobbit for the first time and it was not my favourite reading experience.
As a general rule I don’t love fantasy. True, I have been completely swept up in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin but there is enough there that makes it seem like the familiar tale of the Yorks vs. the Lancasters rather than fantasy. I might have missed some massive clues in this same vein, but The Hobbit didn’t seem to have that same historical thread.
I wanted to like it. Love it even. I wanted it to change my perspective on the whole Lord of the Rings culture (full disclosure: I fell asleep during the first Lord of the Rings movie and woke up wondering why Frodo still had the ring) – but reading The Hobbit only served to make me sleepy on my daily commute.
I don’t know whether it was all the walking, the descriptions of Tolkien’s world, or the lack of any real character with which to identify but in general I found my mind wandering off. I often had to backtrack a few pages to see where exactly so-and-so died because I didn’t remember that happening. That’s not good.
There were some bright spots (the end, haha). I enjoyed the part where Bilbo talks to Smaug. I was kind of sad that Smaug died at the hands of men actually, he had been the one character that I really liked. OK fine, Bilbo is kind of adorable sometimes. It takes him a while, but eventually he’s fairly endearing. Actually upon reflection, once Bilbo meets Smaug and things really start to happen, the book wasn’t half bad. But it took me days to get there. This book is not long: 351 pages. It should not have taken me a week to read it.
I very rarely don’t feel like reading. In case that wasn’t clear (what an awkward sentence. Notice I haven’t gone back to take it out): I always want to read. I think about reading and books all the time. But reading The Hobbit felt less like a joy and more like a chore. Like when you have to read books for school that you don’t really care for. And I expected more from Tolkien since I’ve been hearing for years that The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the gold standard in fiction.
I respectfully disagree.