Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Reading for Research: The Hobbit

Did you know March 25th was Tolkien Reading Day?

It's an annual event that was launched back in 2003 by the Tolkien Society. I only found out about it a few weeks ago and set my mind to picking up The Hobbit for the first time since before the first Lord of the Rings movie came out. Back then, I loved The Hobbit, but I couldn't get through Fellowship of the Ring until after the movie (the other two followed in short order). I always remembered that love, but, well, I'm not a rereader. I'd like to be a rereader, but I'm just no good at it. Given a choice between an old book I loved and a new book, I'll always pick the new one. When I was doing a 50-book reading challenge, I intended to reread the Potters AND all the Terry Pratchett books. I ended up rereading only one, Pratchett's Reaper Man. I just love the mystery of an unread book! But it being Tolkien Reading Day, The Hobbit being out on DVD, and more movies to come, I decided it was high time for a reread of the old classic.

Frankly, I am amazed that my preteen self managed to get through it without trouble, but struggled with Fellowship. For such a small book, it packs in so much information. A whole year in three hundred pages, and yet a legendary battle lasts only two or three. Deaths of dear old friends at the end get brushed over, yet you still feel them just as much as if it were drawn out. There truly has never been and will never be another J. R. R. Tolkien. And honestly, for that exact reason, I found myself not really looking for anything to learn from it. You can spend a lifetime studying Tolkien's writing style, but to what end? You'll know how he wrote, but few would dare to try and write like him. It would be better, I think, to study Middle Earth. There are few fantasy worlds as rich, vibrant, detailed, and well-loved as Tolkien's world. Study the maps, the languages, the races and cultures, the food and the song. Learn how to build a world from Tolkien, not how to write. 

Just wish I'd realized that BEFORE I finished the book. Guess I'll have to read the others. What a terrible thing. :)


  1. I'm currently rereading the Hobbit as well. In fact, I read some on that day without even realizing it.

    There is definitely a lot Tolkien can teach us and world building is one of them.

    Judging from my draft, world building is my favorite part of the novel writing process. I know more about the creatures that live in my world than I do about the plot at the moment.

  2. Eeeeeexactly. XD

    There's a reason I sort of haven't read the books more than once. Also, The Hobbit was for children, so it's a lot more fast-paced. LOTR is PONDEROUS. XD

    I still think Tolkien is amazing, but I'd have to agree -- learn to worldbuild from his work, but not how to write. XD