What can I say about J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit that has not already been repeated more than amateur impressions of Gollum? Yes, my precious! It seems more valuable for me to provide a retrospective about what The Hobbit means to me rather than a standard review, so here it goes.
On the off chance that a reader has not heard of The Hobbit or any of the film adaptations, The Hobbit is the landmark work in high fantasy. Although I do prefer The Lord of the Rings to The Hobbit, primarily because The Lord of the Rings is written for a higher reading level, The Hobbit is where Tolkien’s epic tale begins. Bilbo, the titular hobbit, embarks on an adventure with a wizard named Gandalf and a gaggle of dwarves (or maybe it would be drove of dwarves?) in order to slay a dragon and reclaim the ancient dwarf kingdom.
I vividly remember the day when I went to the now defunct Borders (I still have my old Border’s rewards card and will probably never stop grieving over the chain’s closure) near my parent’s house to purchase The Hobbit on the recommendation of a friend. The day was rainy, which is perfect for reading, and when I got the book home I finished nearly the entire story within the day. Since then, I have revisited Middle-Earth on a regular basis through high school, college, and adulthood.
Tolkien’s work is so rich and magical that I cannot imagine my life as a reader without it. As I learned in a Tolkien class that I was privileged to take in college, J. R. R. Tolkien was truly a linguistic genius. The depth of his world-building and the history that he set down for Middle-Earth in books such as The Silmarillion is to a level that has never been matched. To my teenage brain, The Hobbit was a mind-explosion of awesome that has never been matched and, I fear, never will be. The Hobbit and the fantastical elements that teem from the pages literally changed my life, the way I view literature, and my world-view as a whole.
I really could go on indefinitely about Tolkien’s brilliance and the fact that The Hobbit was the first step in establishing the entire sub-genre of high fantasy. More important, however, is that The Hobbit introduced me to the world of Middle-Earth which has enchanted me ever since.
Also, I wish that I were an elf. More honestly, however, I am a hobbit.