The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien (a double audio review)

J R R Tolkien is one of those authors who fascinates me.  I am amazed when authors can create a whole other world out of their imaginations and the more believable it is…. the more it blows me away.  (J K Rowling does the same thing to me…. I am just in awe…)

I actually had a creative writing class in High School that was all about Tolkien.  We watched the animated version of the movie, wrote reports, discussed Tolkien and I for one was in my kind of world.  😀  Tolkien soon became an author I was just fascinated with, and love the thought of he, CS Lewis and other authors meeting and discussing their books in a pub called The Rabbit Room.  (For this reason I have named my own Library the Rabbit Room as it is marked over the doors to enter it.)

The Inklings was an Oxford writers’ group which included C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and Hugo Dyson. From late 1933, they met on Thursday evenings at Lewis’s college rooms at Magdalen, where they would read and discuss various material, including their unfinished manuscripts.[4] These meetings were accompanied with more informal lunchtime gatherings at various Oxford pubs which coalesced into a regular meeting held on Mondays or Tuesday lunchtimes at the Eagle and Child, in a private lounge at the back of the pub known as the ‘Rabbit Room’.


Recently when I made the decision I wanted to listen to this on audio, Heather at 30+ A Lifetime Of Books had made a similar decision at around the same time.  We decided we would post our reviews at the same time and ask each other our thoughts about the audio.  We both had the same narrator (gah… I feel awful, I returned my copy to the library and can not remember who the narrator was but I bet Heather knows!  :razz:)

Here is what Heather asked me and my responses:

1.  Was the audio what you expected it to be?  Did it surprise you in any way?   You know, I read this in High School Uhh…. *cough cough* that was quite a few years ago, and honestly many of the details of the story I had forgotten.  When I started listening I was pleasantly surprised to find myself sitting outside the hobbit hole with Bilbo and as our narrator read on I was engulfed with memories of the book from all those years ago.

2.  What did you think of the narration?  I just checked my library reserve and it looks like the narrator was John Robert Reuel.  I think he did a wonderful job.  This is not an easy book to narrate as there are many voices and even quite a bit of singing (more on that later)

3.  This was originally written as a children’s book – do you think the book would appeal most to children?  Teens?  Adults?  I gave this question quite a bit of thought.  I think children can and will still appreciate this book as they will enjoy the imagery the story put sin your mind…. hobbits, dragons, wizards – whats not to love?  I also think adults can appreciate this one for the history of the story – love of a classic read, and secondly many of us grew up with these stories floating around in the background of our lives… this was our generations paranormal before paranormal was cool…. 🙂

Sadly though, I am not so sure this book/audio would bring in much interest from todays YA crowd.  While an amazing work of literature by my standards, I don’t think it had the elements that the YA readers are looking for – romance, dystopia, paranormal…  if I am wrong on this let me know… I would love to be wrong on this point.  🙂

4.  Did you have a favorite part?  Least favorite part?  I have to admit when Gollum entered the narration I was excited.  Usually one to feel for the under dog, I always have had a soft spot for Gollum/Smeagal…. when the voice came through my car speakers I got chills of excitement… obviously I did not like who Smeagal had become (the rings fault!) but I think in better circumstances, perhaps in  another life…. Gollum could have been a lot like Dobby (HarryPotter books)

Least favorite was all the singing.  I get that it is part of the story, but I have never been one for poetry so even reading song after song in the book I remember got old fast.  On audio… it was just as disturbing to the point that I had to make sure my windows were up when driving through town as I really did not anyone hearing Hobbit songs coming out of my vehicle 😛

I already confessed this to Heather when we chatted at BEA this year, but at one point the songs (song after song after song) became so much while driving that I grabbed a piece of scratch paper and wrote out my own words to a song that came to mind.  I will share it with you on a separate page as I do not want to take away from my thoughts on this audio and review with my crazy thinking.  For inquiring minds you can find the song here:

Play Me Some Hobbit Music

Ok…. moving on… I enjoyed this refresher course in The Hobbit as it reminded me of the story I read so long ago.  I am excited about the movie, which is really what inspired me to want to listen to the audio, and I am glad I did.  Here is a link for those of you who are curious to know more about the movie.  While Orlando Bloom was missing from the latest Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, he has been confirmed for The Hobbit.

Stop over to Heathers at 30+ A Lifetime of Books and see her review today of The Hbbbit and how she answered my questions.  

And for giggles as I am in a very Middle earth mood, I found a Hobbit Name Generator.  For the record… In Middle Earth I would be known as Ruby Hardbottle.  😉

I rented this audio from my local library

32 thoughts on “The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien (a double audio review)

  1. I have to admit I’m not generally a fan of audio books. I’ll occasionally listen to non-fic when doing a mindless task at work, but I’ve never really enjoyed the experience of having fiction read to me. I don’t like having someone else interpret the author’s words for me. Even as a kid, I never liked to be read to! Crazy, I know…

  2. I’m not overly a fan of audio books either, but I love the BBC radio play versions of Tolkien’s work. Have you ever given those a try?

  3. I loved reading the Hobbit many years ago, and have recently fallen in love with audio (and walking to work!). Maybe I should reaquaint myself with the Hobbit. But I’m nervous about the music. Ha ha ha…

      1. I hadn’t connected Dobby and Smeagol, but it’s a fair comparison, I think. Gandalf says he would have been quite hobbit-like, before the ring.

  4. Great review, Ruby Hardbottle! I always skip the songs in the Tolkien books but if I were listening on audio I guess I wouldn’t have a choice! I remember not liking Jim Dale’s singing in the Harry Potter books (the sorting hat’s songs, the Hogwarts song, etc.). Smeagol was a sad character in the books though he did make me laugh in the movies. I will have to check out that Hobbit name generator.

  5. I love audio books! I listen to them with my children in the car so I rarely listen to strictly adult ones. Last summer we listened to all 7 Harry Potters and before that we listened to the Narnia books. I wasn’t sure about Tolkein’s books. I’ve seen the movies but wasn’t able to get into the books the couple times I picked them up. I’ll have to think about trying them again. Thanks for the review!

  6. I haven’t read this since high school either, but it would probably be good to revisit it before the movie comes out (I have a copy around somewhere, since my 11-year-old read it this school year…) And THANK YOU for the news about Orlando Bloom :-D!

    The Hobbit Name Generator links to an Elvish Name Generator. Here are both of mine:

    Hobbit name: Pansy Bolger
    Elvish name: Gilraen Númenessë

    (At least I can pronounce the Hobbit name!)

  7. I can’t recall if I listened to this audio sometime in my years. I read it and the LOR trilogy back in my college days. More recently I did listen to the LOR books.
    I always liked the creepy “Gollum”, “My Precious!”
    My Hobbit name would be: Primula Hardbottle. Does that make us sisters??!!
    Thanks for the interesting review.

  8. I am definitely not a big fan of Tolkien, and I’m somewhat scared to admit it because of all of his fans, but I thought that Rowling, for example, explored the nature of good and evil much more in-depth and didn’t stop at just the notions of good vs. bad (why *is* Saruman evil as he is? I never got it).

    However, although I really didn’t enjoy reading LOTR (too much history for me, and not enough story:)) I remember enjoying Hobbit, and particularly the Smeagol part. I actually can’t wait for the movie to come out, I think I will enjoy it more than the LOTR movies.

    That said, I love your comments on the songs, as well as the embarrassment that they brought about while you were driving. One more reason for me not to like audio books – I often can’t follow them closely enough unless I just lay on my bed and do nothing (terrible multi-tasker here!), they are often too slow for me, and… Oh man, just give me a regular book any time! 😀

  9. I have listened to the Rob Inglis version and I loved how he sang the songs and read the poetry. When I read books with songs and poetry I tend to skim right over them, so I was happy to hear the parts of the book I don’t normally read.

    Too funny about your reaction to the songs and rolling up the car windows. I do that too sometimes — audiobooks out of context can sometimes be very weird.

  10. Sorry I’m so late in reading your review – I went offline on Friday so I could go camping with Kiddo over the weekend (it was a blast!). ANYWAY …

    I agree with your assessment of today’s YA readers; I doubt they’d get into the story, but like you I’d like to be wrong on that.

    And you are RIGHT ON with the Gollum/Dobby thing. I hadn’t thought of it before but it is very true.

    I loved doing this review with you – thanks!

  11. Brilliant comparison with Dobby! 🙂 I can’t wait for The Hobbit – released in cinemas in December 2012 in the UK I think. At least we’ve got Harry Potter part 8 to keep us going in the meantime 🙂

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