The Lord of the Rings Read-Along: The Final Installment

Well, the Lord of the Rings Read-Along is finished. I re-read all three books and felt nostalgic about each and every one, found something new to love in each, and even came across a few things I had over looked in previous readings.

I thought about doing a review but then decided not too. A lot of people participating in the read-along wrote some great reviews and I don’t even know where to start with a review (it would have been more like a thesis than a review) so that idea was quickly thrown out. I thought about not posting anything but since I did posts for each of the others, and I like things in even numbers, I decided to do one final goodbye to the Lord of Rings after all.

So, I give you Hobbit Holes!!!

My city has some great architecture and my neighborhood in particular has some truly beautiful buildings. On one street not too far from our house there are a few little entrances that have always made me smile and make me think of Bilbo, Sam, and Frodo. I, with the help of my husband and his trusty blackberry, took a few photos to show you these little places that always make me smile.

Enjoy.

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Lord of the Rings Read-Along: The Fellowship of the Ring & The Two Towers – A Final Look Back & A Look Forward

I’m going to combine two Lord of the Rings Read-Along posts this week otherwise that’s all you’d be reading about here. Wait, all Tolkien all the time…how can that be bad! 🙂 I do have a few other things I’d like to post this week so here we go with a look back and a look forward.

First, thanks to Clare at The Literary Omnivore for hosting The Fellowship of the Rings discussion in February and to Teresa at Shelf Love for hosting The Two Towers this month.

The Fellowship of the Ring – A Final Look Back

1.Since we’re dealing with a third of a novel, instead of the first novel in a series, do you find anything different? In a way, I have always thought of these books as one big book broken up into sections so I guess I don’t really think about it as the next book so much as the next chapter. Besides, I love big chunky books so I’m happy thinking of it as one ginormous book in the end.

2.Do Books One and Two have significant differences to you? I think of book one as more of a build up and book two as the action. In book one, I feel like I’m waiting for something to happen. Frodo and the others are running from something but in many ways they don’t quite know what that is yet or how evil it is. In book two, they know and that makes everything that much more urgent.

3.Who’s your favorite character so far into the novel? I have two major favorites and a few minor favorites. Major favorites — Sam and Aragorn. Sam because he is so loyal and practical. Rope anyone? He’s also the one to give little pep talks to Frodo which at least lifts some of the depression from him. I know Frodo is supposed to be scared and weighed down by the ring but sometimes he depresses me. At least Sam lifts that dreariness a bit. And Aragorn, well, how can you not like him! He’s handsome — in my head he is Viggo Mortensen which doesn’t hurt the image — and strong and fearless and, OK I have a slight crush and I won’t say anymore but I think you all get the point. I also love Merry and Pippen as the comic relief. As a minor character, I really like Galadriel. She just so lovely and exactly how I would envision an elf queen.

4.What surprised you the most? I hate to admit this but I remembered a few scenes better from the movie than the book.

5.What was your favorite scene? It’s more a favorite chapter. I love all the descriptions and the role Galadriel plays in The Mirror of Galadriel. When I finished, all I could think was, “Yes, that’s how it’s supposed to be.”

The Two Towers – A Look Forward

1.Where are you in the trilogy right now? What do you think of the books so far? I haven’t started yet but I have taken it down off the shelf so that’s a start!

2.What’s your past experience with The Two Towers? If you’re rereading, how does it stack up against the other two books? I’m light on the details for The Two Towers so I’m looking forward to getting started. The last time I re-read these books, I read them all in a row with no breaks and everything sort of mushed together. My guess is that I will remember more as I get going.

3.If you’re a first-time reader, what big questions do you have at this point? What are you hoping to see Tolkien deal with in The Two Towers? If you’re a re-reader, what are you most looking forward to? I can’t wait to meet Treebeard again. The Ents are some of the most wonderful characters ever imagined.

4.What about the movie? If you’ve seen it, what did you think of it, and how much do you think it will color your experience with the book? I’ve seen all the movies and liked them but I’m also one of those odd people that disconnects movies and books, although I always like to read the book first if there is one! I enjoy them for the separate mediums they are and don’t mind that certain aspects and events of the books have been changed to work in the movie better. I know for a fact though that I like the books better than the movies. 🙂

I plan to read The Two Towers at lunch and maybe a few chapters on the odd night. I’m going to make an effort to make this a month long reading event.

Have any thoughts about the Lord of the Rings?

Lord of the Rings Read-Along – The Fellowship of the Ring, Part II

The Lord of the Rings Read-Along is continuing this month with The Fellowship of the Ring. Clare from The Literary Omnivore is hosting the discussion for this book.  She’s posted a second set of questions for all of us participating.

If you’ve been with us since the beginning, how do you feel about the narrator compared to the narrator in The Hobbit?

How’s your pace going? Is it smooth sailing or have you found passages that are difficult to get through?

If you’ve read this series before, is The Fellowship of the Ring, for the most part, as you remembered? If not, is it what you expected or something else?

Are you using any of the extra features- maps and indexes, for instance- in your book?

On with the show…err, book.

The Fellowship of the Ring

If you’ve been with us since the beginning, how do you feel about the narrator compared to the narrator in The Hobbit? I actually like the narrator in this book better than in The Hobbit.  It has a more adult feel to it.

How’s your pace going? Is it smooth sailing or have you found passages that are difficult to get through? It’s smooth sailing.  I have skipped a few songs though — some are just too long for me.  I did read them in The Hobbit and most of the ones in this book too, but sometimes I gloss over them or flip past them entirely.  I know there are a lot of people out there that really love the songs, but, I’m not one of them.  Please don’t hate me for it.  🙂

I haven’t found any passage difficult to get through. Although, I did find The Counsel of Elrond to be a bit windy but wouldn’t really say I got bogged down, just a little bored with all the speeches.  In fact, the most difficult thing I’m dealing with in my reading is not reading the whole book in one sitting!  I’m trying for only 2-3 chapters a night but will admit that it’s not working out exactly as I planned.  I’m finding it very hard NOT to keep reading.

If you’ve read this series before, is The Fellowship of the Ring, for the most part, as you remembered? If not, is it what you expected or something else? I was surprised to find that I didn’t remember as much as I thought I did.  I actually had to laugh at one point because what I remembered was from the movie and not the book.  SPOILER ALERT *****  For instance, in the chapter A Short Cut to Mushrooms, the scene where the Frodo, Merry, Pippin, and Sam are on their way to cross the Brandywine River on the ferry and they end up crossing old Farmer Maggot’s turnip field. After a little dinner and some nice conversation, he takes the four hobbits down to the ferry in his wagon.  I remember this being a huge chase scene with the Black Riders just missing the little hobbits a they make a run for the boat.  Not so!  It’s completely different in the book, and in a way, so much better.  The scene is still tense and you are worried if they will make it, but it fits better.  ***** ALERT OVER

Are you using any of the extra features- maps and indexes, for instance- in your book? No, I don’t really look at the maps while reading. I’ll sometimes skim over them after though.

Clare, our host for The Fellowship of the Ring, has mentioned doing a movie marathon after we finish the read-along and I’m in.  I need to find how how much I remember from the books and the movies!

Are you joining us in the read-along?  Any thoughts on The Fellowship of the Ring?

The Lord of the Rings Read-Along – Bidding Farewell to Bilbo

Those of us participating in the Read-Along have moved on to The Fellowship of the Ring but since Eva of A Striped Armchair, our host for The Hobbit, posted a few last questions, I thought it would be a good time to bid adieu to Bilbo.

Did you find the book’s second half consistent to the first, in tone, plotting, etc.?

What did you think of the ending?

Did your view of any character change since our last check-in?

What surprised you most in this half of the book?

What delighted you most?

Can you see yourself rereading The Hobbit some day?

Are you planning on continuing on to The Fellowship of the Ring?

Would you say that doing a group read enriched your reading? Anything in particular written by a fellow participant that stands out?

The Hobbit

Did you find the book’s second half consistent to the first, in tone, plotting, etc.? Yes and no. I find the first half of the book so much more fun than the second. The idea of going on an adventure and laughing as Bilbo trots out of the house without a handkerchief is amusing and I want to run out and join him. I expect the adventure to get dark and dangerous for the travelers but somehow when the elves are introduced, some of the, what’s the word I’m looking for, well, they just seems to suck the fun out of it. I do find joy in the story again when Bilbo starts another riddle game with Smaug.

What did you think of the ending? I love when Bilbo comes home to find everyone in the Shire and beyond rifling through his things and claiming them as their own. It’s the last thing you would want to come home to. And, maybe I’m wrong here but I don’t remember anyone welcoming Bilbo home. They were surprised by his return but no one was happy about it. Who would be if they thought they would be moving into his cozy hobbit hole. 🙂

Did your view of any character change since our last check-in? No, I still have a long and enduring love for Bilbo. Although, I found I liked the elves less than I remembered. I know I like them in the subsequent books but here I kind of felt put off by them. I’m not sure why.

What surprised you most in this half of the book? What delighted you most? Smaug was a delight. I don’t remember liking him so much but here he was this lovely, old, dragon to be admired and feared. My biggest surprise — I didn’t particularly care for the fact that a human kills him. Somehow it seems like it should be a creature of legend and not a human, who up till this point in the story, played no actual part. Can you tell I’m a bit annoyed by that. 😉

Can you see yourself rereading The Hobbit some day? Yes. 🙂

Are you planning on continuing on to The Fellowship of the Ring? Yes. 🙂

Would you say that doing a group read enriched your reading? I think it has. Each time I’ve read and re-read these books I’ve done it alone. There are always people, at least in my circle of friends, that have read the books and would be willing to discuss, but since I’m the only one re-reading the books, it’s not an easy topic to squeeze in. The opportunity to read what others found interesting enriched the reading and in many ways made me look at the story differently. I enjoyed that immensely.

Anything in particular written by a fellow participant that stands out? There was one stand out — The Misadventures of Moppet (the post – The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lost Chapter) wrote about the lost chapter and it made me want to go out and find it!

Thanks for hosting Eva!

Lord of the Rings Read-Along – The Fellowship of the Ring

I’m a little late posting and a little late starting but better late than never, right? The Lord of the Rings Read-Along is continuing this month with The Fellowship of the Ring. Clare from The Literary Omnivore is hosting the discussion for this book and has posted the first set of questions for all of us participating.

1.When did you first hear of The Lord of the Rings?

2.Have you read The Fellowship of the Ring before?

3.What’s your plan of attack, now that we’re dealing with more “mature” literature?

4.Have you ever seen the movies? If so, do you think they’ll influence your reading? If not, well, why haven’t you seen them?

As I said, I haven’t started yet but that will be changing tonight. We’re going to be getting another 10+ inches of snow here in DC and it seems like a good evening to curl with a book. 🙂

On with the adventure…

The Fellowship of the Ring

I first heard about the Lord of the Rings in high school. I remember reading the books but I don’t remember being all that impressed. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that now! I absolutely loved The Hobbit which I read in grade school but just didn’t get into the following books. I did pickup the series in college again after an English professor mentioned the books in class and I loved them the second time around. I re-read the series a few years ago when the movies came out as well.

My plan of attack is going to be different this time — I plan to take my time and savor this re-reading. I flew through most of The Hobbit in one afternoon and I plan to take things slowly and meander through this time. A quick look at my book tells me there are 22 chapters and I plan to read 2-3 a night. I’m going to give myself a little leeway because I know I will probably read more than my allotment each night. 🙂 I have trouble stopping sometimes when I get into the story. Middle Earth is a captivating place isn’t it? The characters are just amazing and once I start, I sometimes don’t stop until I find myself at the end. I’m going to try for a slower pace but we’ll see…

Yes, I have seen the movies and I did enjoy them all. But, for me, the books are still better. (This is almost always the case with me. :-)) Oddly, and I’m sure a lot of people have the same problem, all of the characters in the book now look like the characters from the movies in my head. I don’t find this to be much of a problem but the people I imagined and used to know in this book are gone now having been replaced by everyone from the movie — just to clarify, this is only in the way they look. I don’t think the movies have influenced my reading, other than the whole new people to imagine while reading though.

How about you? Have you read The Fellowship of the Ring? Any thoughts you’d like to share?

If you’d like to sign up for the challenge, click here.

Lord of the Rings Read-Along – Re-Visiting the Adventure

The Lord of the Rings Read-Along is continuing this month with The Hobbit. Eva from A Striped Armchair is hosting the discussion for this book and has posted a second set of questions and discussion points for all of us participating.

Where are you in the story? So far, has the book lived up to your expectations (for first-timers)/memories (for rereaders)? What’s surprising or familiar?

Have you been bogged down anywhere in the book?

Let’s talk about the songs…are you skipping over them to get back to the prose? Why or why not?

What do you think of the narrator’s voice?

Does your edition have illustrations or maps? Have you been ignoring them or referring back to them?

Now it’s time to play favourites! Who’s your favourite main character? Who’s your favourite minor character (i.e.: villains, random helpers, etc.)? What’s your favourite scene? Do you have a favourite quote to share?

Off we go…

I finished the book earlier this month. I tried to take it slow but once I got into it, I couldn’t stop. And, yes, it once again lived up to my expectations — it’s funny, full of wonderful characters, and it’s an adventure! Having read the book several times, I don’t know if I can say I found anything surprising, but I did find it comforting. Reading The Hobbit brought back a lot of good childhood memories and I love when a book does that.

Having finished the book already, I can’t say I was bogged down anywhere. I raced through it. 🙂

The songs, oh, the songs. I have to admit that I usually skip them, but this time around I did read them. This may in fact be the first time I ever read the songs and I feel odd admitting that because I’m sure at some point I must have read them but I found all the songs new to me this time around — so maybe that was my surprise on this re-reading. I’m not a music person, in fact I have no musical talent whatsoever (my parents who had to listen, painfully, to my failed attempts to play the clarinet as a child can attest to this) and when I read the songs, I read them as poetry. My brain is so musically disinclined that I don’t even know where to start with a melody. My husband would attest to this as well since I can barely name my supposed favorite song when I hear it! Any wonder I skipped them before? I think not but I am glad I read the songs this time.

I always thought the narrator’s voice sounded sort of fatherly and, after this re-reading, it still sounds that way to me. I don’t find it intrusive in anyway, it’s just there.

My edition does have maps in the front and back of the book. I do look at them but don’t reference them too much. I have an odd map in my head of what Middle Earth looks like and I like to keep it that way. 🙂 My book also has illustrations but I don’t spend too much time looking at them with the exception of one — the illustration of Bilbo’s hobbit hole at the end. It looks like a most magical place to live.

Favorites! How to choose? Well, if I must…it is Bilbo and running a very close second, Bombur. I always feel so bad for him and sort of cheer the chubby dwarf on. I won’t say anymore for fear of spoiling it for others but let’s just say I have a soft spot for him. Beorn is another wonderful character, the food alone at his house just sounds so tasty.

My favorite chapter is Riddles in the Dark. I find Gollum so creepy and it marks a turning point for me — the story takes on a slightly darker tone from this point on. More troubles, the adventure is not so much fun anymore, reality sets in, and death becomes a distinct possibility. I love the game played between Bilbo and Gollum and the way that Bilbo gets out of the situation. The little burglar indeed!

My favorite quote also comes from this chapter. In my edition, page 65.

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.

I always wondered how one would go sideways but that’s another topic. I just love that he gives himself a little pep talk and trots off as if this was all part of a normal day. Can’t you just picture Bilbo holding out the sword in the dark shuffling slowly along the wall?

There will be one more post about The Hobbit at the end of the month and then we move on to The Fellowship of the Rings. If you’re curious, here’s more info about the read-along.

Got any memories to share of The Hobbit?

The Lord of the Rings Read-Along Begins! – Thoughts on The Hobbit

I’m participating in the Lord of the Rings Read-Along this year and the first book on the agenda is The Hobbit. Eva from A Striped Armchair is hosting the discussion for this book and to help us along, she’s posted some great questions:

When did you first hear of The Hobbit? What made you decide to join the read-a-long?

Have you read it before? If so tell us about that experience.

If you’re new to The Hobbit, do you have any preconceptions going into it?

J.R.R. Tolkien pretty much founded the modern fantasy genre. So let’s take a moment to think about the genre as a whole; have you always loved fantasy? Or perhaps you still feel rather skeptical towards the whole idea of wizards and dwarfs and magic? What was your introduction to the genre?

Do you have a certain plan for reading it? A few pages a day, spacing it out over the month? Or are you just going to race through it? Let whimsy decide?

Since many are still reading, I’m going to answer a few of the questions instead of doing a traditional review. I’ve tried my best to keep out spoilers but there maybe a few references that might give something away. Don’t say you haven’t been warned. 🙂 Onward!

We’re also sharing pictures of our book covers. Here’s mine.

The first time I read The Hobbit was the summer before I started 5th grade. The idea of a quest, treasure, magic, and elves was fascinating and stuck with me for a long time. I was in love with fantasy then, still am now, and I credit this book with my love of the genre.

In the fall of my 5th grade year, a few teachers put together a production of The Hobbit. Having already read the book, needless to say, I was very excited. A bunch of us tried out and made it! Okay, so the pickings were slim — an actor I am not! 🙂 I couldn’t wait to see what it would look like as a play though. This was, of course, my first experience with liking a book more than the movie/play. Not that we all weren’t fabulous but…I never pictured Gollum looking like a mermaid and still don’t to this day. But I guess when you’re putting on a play in a school cafeteria with a bunch of 5th graders, you go with what you got. I have very fond memories of the experience even if I personally found the book much more thrilling than our little play.

I, if anyone is curious, was the lead goblin in the play. A rather boring part with only three lines. The goblins played a very small role in our production. There were only three of us and after we finished our sparse lines, we mostly grunted and chased everyone whenever we were required on stage.

From that summer on, I have always loved this book. No matter how many times I re-read it, I fall in love with it all over again. Bilbo is so lovable, loyal, and truly just wants everyone to get along. Most of all, he wants to be home in his warm hobbit hole, which I imagine to be the most wonderful and magical of places. The beginning of the adventure is fantastic when he gets all flustered and then excited at the prospect of an adventure. It’s so amusing and shows his true character. He’s so proper (To leave home without pocket-handkerchiefs, the horror!) and not really fit for a long trip but you also see the excitement and wonder that make Bilbo such an enduring character.

The idea of magic, elves, hobbits, dwarfs, goblins, orcs (I know, getting ahead of myself!) just makes me all giddy. It’s the incredible sense of friendship, loyalty, adventure, danger, and a touch of magic that draws me in. I laugh when Bilbo gets all Tookish, feel creeped out when Gollum first appears, and more importantly, the first time he refers to himself as My Precious. His voice is a creepy echo in my head that I don’t shake until Bilbo finally leaves him behind.

I started The Hobbit over Christmas and stopped again. I was so excited I couldn’t help myself. I let myself savor one chapter, then another a few days later. I held off almost a week before I finally gave in, curled up on the couch, and joined the fearless travelers. I think because I’ve read this book before and have good and wonderful memories associated with it, that once I get back into the story and see everyone off, I can’t abandon the little travelers until they find their way home again.

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings sits prominently on our bookshelf. Each day I see the books and I’ve been thinking about re-reading them but with so many other books waiting to be read, I’ve put them off. When I saw the read-along, I knew it was time! And once again, I’ve enjoyed every moment of the journey. It’s so beautifully told, how can you not.

If you’re joining us on the journey, feel free to leave your impressions and memories here and also with Eva at A Striped Armchair who is hosting The Hobbit portion of the read-along. Enjoy the adventure! If you want more information about the read-along, click here. Not too late to sign up…