A History of… The Hobbit


Lashaan recently wrote up a review of his first time reading The Hobbit. Great review and I highly recommend you read it. But it got me to thinking. I literally grew up with the Hobbit and thought I’d try to remember my life as defined by the experiences I was going through when I read and re-read the Hobbit.

I believe that my experience with the Hobbit started before I could even read. My mom used to read to me in the afternoons before I started going to school and I know she read me Narnia and the Little House on the Prairie series. I can’t remember her explicitly reading me the Hobbit but my familiarity with it in later years leads me to believe she did. I don’t remember too much of that time overall except for a warm fuzzy sense of “rightness”. 

The next instance of the Hobbit is an explicit memory, one very well defined. I believe I was in middleschool and our family was going up to Canada to visit the Grands. I went to the library and got the Hobbit so I would have a book to read. Even then I knew to always have a book handy. It was one with the faux-leather green cover.

Not sure it was this exact edition, but if not, it looked almost like it

I remember this so well because on the way home we stopped in Maine at some relatives and I got a wicked bad sunburn on my whole back (didn’t use sunscreen) and we had to travel for 12hrs in the car the next day. You don’t forget experiences like that!

In highschool I wrote a paper on the Hobbit and Tolkien. I don’t have that paper handy nor do I remember anything about it, except, I got to read the Hobbit and use it to do some school work. Score!

Jump forward in time to Bibleschool in the late 90’s. One of our professors read through the entire series on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons to us students in one of the rooms that had couches and comfy chairs. When you are 19-22, having a chance to just hang out with everyone and not actually do anything is great. Add in that we all liked the story, the Professor had done this for years and so had a fantastic voice for reading, well, it was all a nerd could ask for.

Aye, aye Captain Professor Sir!

In 2001 the SFBC came out with the omnibus edition of the Lord of the Rings. I bought that and the Hobbit at the same time. Why should I pay for 4 books when I could pay for just 2? Small print didn’t mean a thing to my eyes then and being thrifty meant more than anything.

Teensy tiny print

In 2006 I met Miss Librarian at a friend’s wedding (Miss Library and I had been friends online) and we exchanged books. I gave her a copy of the Hobbit.

It was this edition

2 years later we were married and suddenly there were 2 copies of the same book on our book shelves. 2008 was a year for surprises, that is for sure!

Fast forward 3 years to 2011. I was on Goodreads and loving it. I had book friends and was writing reviews left and right. One of my online friends re-read the whole series every year. I wasn’t as much into re-reading then myself, but he inspired me to go through them all. I was simply blown away by how well written the Hobbit was and at how it could still appeal to my mature 30’something self. You’re Mature at 30 and after that you’re just Old and who cares what Old People think.

And now we come to 2019. Devilreads is a bad memory, 30 is just a stage that I grew out of (into a much more Mature stage I must say!) and yet here I am reading the Hobbit again and still loving it.

Bad Memories Indeed

What do you call a book that enthralls a 4 to 5 year old (no matter how precocious), a middleschooler, a highschooler, someone in college, a mid 20’s man, a 30 year old in his prime and then a 40 year old with the wisdom of the ages under his belt? If Classic doesn’t fit, then I don’t know what would. As sagacious as I currently am, I suspect in another 10-15 years that I’ll STILL love this book.

I’d like to take the time to thank Lashaan once again. He’s inspired several of these A History of… posts. The more years I collect, the more memories tag along, except for when I forget them. So it is good to write them down before they disappear 😀

34 thoughts on “A History of… The Hobbit

    1. I completely understand having a harder time with LotR. It is a very different beast than the Hobbit and while I still enjoy them, I don’t automatically assume that if someone loves one that they will love the other.

      Just like I can’t stand Tolkien’s Silmarillion!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve written a little bit about my history with The Hobbit. I was reading some sort of fantasy (I don’t remember what) and my told me that if I liked it then I would like The Hobbit. I didn’t want to read it because I was a snobbish kid (I was 10 or younger at the time). Eventually I relented to my great joy!

    My original copy had a really hideous 90s movie-style cover. I bought that green cover edition to read to no-angel in the womb. I wound up effectively reading The Hobbit three times last year: once aloud to the baby (extending to post-birth), once in the usual fashion, and once as a part of the Rateliff book, which basically includes the entire text. That experience did nothing to dissuade me of my view that The Hobbit is the perfect fantasy book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think know those covers you are talking about! I owned them as well until I lent them to a friend and he took them to his public school and I never saw them again.

      Hopefully No-Angel can appreciate what you’ve done for her already!


  2. Awesome post! Really nice to see a book that you loved this book at all those different moments. I have that with Lord of the Rings. My parents got it for their wedding, so my dad was eager to introduce us to the story. I think I saw the movies first (the first one at least), and we listened to the audiobooks in the car on holiday. Many rereads later it was then also the first book I read in English, and then also wrote a paper about it and Tolkien for our ‘culture and art’ class. My only 10 out of 10 I ever scored. Have reread it many times since. It is one of the very few books, if not the only, I could keep rereading. Actually love it so much that I convinced Dave that if we have a son one day to name him after one of the characters. From the Dutch translation that is 😋
    We listened to the hobbit after lotr, and then I thought it was just fine. It wasn’t lotr, and I missed those characters. I have reread it a few times now though, and I like it better with every read.
    Wow, this comment got a lot longer than I was planning… sorry not sorry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never apologize for a LONG comment on this blog 😀 I love them!

      That is really cool about growing up with LotR! Do the dutch translations change the names? Honestly, I would have thought those stayed the same.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Most are the same, but merry and pippin are merijn and pepijn. Baggins became Balings. Samwise Gamgee became Sam Gewissies. And some names like Cotton got literal translations. Most stayed the same though. I guess in some cases (like gamgee) we would pronounce it so differently it would have a completely different feel to it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Really fun post. The Hobbit is definitely a work of art. Something exciting happens in every single chapter.

    I don’t remember the first time The Hobbit was read to me, but I do remember we had this little vinyl record of a kids’ version of it that went with an illustrated book. The illustrations were great – not too cutesy, kind of ugly actually. Those illustrations still form my mental picture of Bilbo Baggins. And now my niece loves them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would that happen to be the Bass&Rankin version? I didn’t realize it as a kid, but my goodness, the movie and the book were ugly as all get out!

      Glad to hear that others have experienced the Hobbit from childhood on. Gives me hope that that can be passed along 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t think this will come through in the feed, but I’m including a link that shows a picture. If it looked something like this, it was the Bass&Rankin one.

          Most people, even those who love it, agree that the art was just plain ugly 😀

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Oh wow! This looks brilliant! Why have I never heard of this adaptation? Love this post, Bookstooge. I also love the Hobbit and have read it three or four times. I wasn’t lucky enough to have it read to me, but I was able to read it to my daughter when she was younger. That was a great experience! It made me realize how well the story holds up because I enjoyed it just as much as she did. A “children’s book” having that kind of magical effect on an adult is surely a sign of a timeless story🙂

            Liked by 1 person

    1. There really aren’t too many books that I can point to as books that I’ve read at almost every stage of life. I doubt there are many books that most people can do that to. I wish there were more…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved reading your history of the hobbit!! Especially because it was so intrinsic to my childhood too and is something I’ve returned to again and again. It’s definitely a book that will never get old either because it’s so well written. It’s really amazing that it’s been such a big part of every stage of your life!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really appreciate that you took the time to do this, good sir. Honestly, it means a lot, in the sense that I didn’t exactly get the chance to have parents who knew what The Hobbit was or even thought of reading such books to their kids before bed or anything. Hearing your story tells me how books can be so significant to us, even at an age where we don’t even care for them. It’s also amazing how many different editions you went through! I can imagine myself collecting them all someday (at the moment, I won’t even try hahah). Also, I too should thank you for continuously repeating how awesome The Hobbit was over the past blogging years. It definitely played a role in me picking it up now rather than… later/never.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post. The older I get the more I realize how blessed I was to have parents who encouraged me to read. Visits to the library were a weekly occurrence and I just thought of them as normal. Now I realize just how significant those visits actually were.

      I really enjoyed your review of the Hobbit and I hope you can enjoy the Lord of the Rings when you get around to them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice! I don’t have any old copies. I almost wish I did but we were a library family back then. It wasn’t until I got out on my own with money that I really started collecting books. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

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