‘The Hobbit’ by J. R. R. Tolkien

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For this project I read ‘The Hobbit’ by J. R. R. Tolkien and ‘Exploring J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit’ by Corey Olsen. I also listened to a podcast by Corey Olsen, The Tolkien Professor. I would highly suggest checking out these items if you are interested in learning more. I do not claim to be a complete expert on this subject and will hopefully learn more every year when I do this read-along. I will also hopefully have more and different things to discuss every year. Since this is the first year, I’m going to talk about my general thoughts and feelings on the book as a whole. I am also going to focus on the tone of the book. This is in no way a complete discussion. I probably missed a lot and hope that you will talk to me in the comments and let me know your opinions and thoughts. I also have a video booktalk on my Youtube.

I enjoyed this read through. I was reading it in sync with another book and I think that hindered my full experience of the book in its own, but it also made me think a little harder about what I was reading. It also gave me a bunch of ideas for parts of the story that I can focus on in future book talks.

It’s interesting to think about how the book changes in tone throughout. The story starts with a lot of silly things mixed in with a few darker moments. The dark moments are always treated in a light way though. As the story goes on it just gets darker. At the end it doesn’t have any of the sillier moments to lighten the mood. Looking at the fact that ‘The Hobbit’ is a childrens book, it’s fascinating to see that change. It almost like the book grew up as it went on.

When we are first introduced to the dwarves they are almost a comic troupe. They have instruments and sing a silly song while cleaning up. Throughout a good chunk of the story it’s hard to take them seriously. They clearly don’t have a plan and they don’t know what they’re doing a lot of the time.

The first time we met the elves they sing a funny song and even the last time we see them they are still singing. In the middle of the story they get a little more intimidating. The elves of Mirkwood are not as friendly as the elves of Rivendell.

The goblins are treated in a dark way whenever we meet them. They sing songs, but the songs are about torturing the dwarves. They are very simple, but still pretty messed up when you think about it.

Bilbo is the silly one when we meet the spiders of Mirkwood. When he is trying to save the dwarves he makes fun of the spiders by singing silly songs. He is also killing the spiders, but the song and talking distract from that.

Smaug is mostly a darker character since we do meet him in the laster part of the book. He isn’t the biggest baddest villain, but he also isn’t to be underestimated. Bilbo does for a moment, but he realizes quickly while his butt is burning not to do that.

On my next read through I’m going to focus on Bilbo’s change throughout the story.

 

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‘Distant Waves’ by Suzanne Weyn

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I really enjoyed this. It was fun reading about the spiritualism. There was a lot of name dropping in this, but it was all mostly plausible. All of the people she mentions on the Titanic were there, except Tesla. There is no proof Tesla was there. Other than that, it was accurate to what could have happened. I wanted more of the romance, and that disappointed me a little. Overall, it was an enjoyable and quick read.

‘City of Bones’ by Cassandra Clare

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It took me a long time to read this, mainly because of the hype surrounding this series and author. It was pretty good. I am not by any means in love with this story or the characters. I did find the last few chapters very interesting. Cassandra Clare did a good job of ending in a spot that makes you want to read the next book soon. I am interested in seeing how this series turns out. I did enjoy reading this book and I do plan on continuing the series. I have not decided about the other series yet.

‘Did You Ever Have a Family’ by Bill Clegg

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It took a while for me to get into this story. There are a lot of characters and it took a while to understand who was who. All the characters are connected in some way. It was interesting to see all the connections and all the way people can be affected by the smallest things. The story was kind of sad, but not in a crying way, more of just depressing the entire time.

‘The Silmarillion’ by J. R. R. Tolkien

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This is my second read of this. I enjoy it more this time around. I tabbed so many spots. Reading this made me excited to read ‘Children of Hurin’ and ‘Lays of Beleraind.’ It also has me super excited for the story of Beren and Luthien that is coming out this month. It written in a way that takes a while to read. This read took 2 months, especially since it wasn’t the only thing I was reading.

This is not a casual book to pick up. It is a book for more dedicated fans of Middle-Earth and Tolkien. There is a lot of history in there and its written in a slow going way.

‘The Light Between Oceans’ by M. L. Stedman

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This was a fascinating look at the things we will do for children. It has a very interesting way of looking at motherhood. I think this story was true to what a woman can and will do when it comes to a child. This was a sad story, but it was also so happy. The emotional roller coaster it will take you on is well worth it. I enjoyed reading this and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. This has the potential to be a very touching story. I always have a harder time getting emotional when I am told ahead of time that it is really sad. This did make me almost tear up a few times though.

‘Valley of the Dolls’ by Jacqueline Susann

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My mother suggested this to me because she had seen the movie. I plan to watch the movie, I just don’t know when.

This was such an interesting story. This tells about some of the dirtier sides of fame, and not in a fun way. There were so many devastating moments. We follow 3 main girls through marriage, divorce, drug addiction, abortions, suicide, careers highs, and some extreme lows. It was raw and unapologetic. There were a lot of things that were way to convenient for real life, but most of it was completely feasible. This book was still relatable over fifty years later.

The only complaint I have is that the first half of the book takes place in less than 3 years and the second half covers the rest of the twenty year span.

‘Girl, Interrupted’ by Susanna Kaysen

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This is the second time I’ve read this and I watched the movie a few days later. I enjoyed reading this again. The book has a lot of differences from the movie, but they also relate in more ways. The way the book is written is more like a collection of stories than one story. Each chapter focuses on one person or thought process.

The only minor problem that I have had with both book and movie is that it almost romanticizes being in a hospital. Very few bad things happen when they are in the hospital and it made me want to go there. The other side is that this is a good story to have because it isn’t just a horror story and instead shows how the hospital can help people. That is why I don’t fully know how to think about it.

‘Flowers for Algernon’ by Daniel Keyes

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This had a lot of potential to be completely heartbreaking, but it just didn’t hit me. I enjoyed reading the story and I love the way it was written. The style of story telling was absolutely perfect for the story Keyes was trying to tell. Charlie was a character that is really hard to relate to, everywhere along the process he was too distant. Starting with the fact that I am female and Charlie was a male, I’ve also never gone through the sort of separation from society that he faces. Charlie, both when he realizes it and prior, has very few people who truly accept him. He has issues with his family, co-workers, and even with the people conducting the experiment. This causes him to spend a lot of time inside his own head, both remembering and understanding the past, but also in the present.

Overall, it is a touching story and there are a lot of hard moments. I enjoyed the experience.

‘The Beauty and the Beast’ by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve

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This is a translation of the original story. Because of that, and the time when it was written and translated, it was written in an older style of writing. It fit the story very well, since this in an old story. It was a lot different from the Disney story, obviously. It was ok. There were a lot of long-winded explanations, which I felt were unnecessary. I’m glad I read it and I would suggest it.