I came into the LotR Read-Along late, so I'm still only halfway through the book even though it's the last day of the month and I'm supposed to start FotR tomorrow. Luckily The Hobbit is a quick read, so I should be done in a day or two- and I've read it many times before, of course, so that helps.
My first experience with The Hobbit was when I was about six and my dad read it to me for the first time, complete with different voices for each of the characters. My dad is a huge LotR fan, too, so it's awesome having something we both love. :) The Hobbit is really the LotR book that influenced me the most (and is probably why I have such a huge fear of spiders, lol) and it's the reason I'm obsessed with Mirkwood and use a half-wood elf as my alter-ego.
This month's blog host for the Read-Along supplied us with some questions to answer earlier this month, but I'm only getting to them now because I started so late.
* 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?
I'm about halfway through and up to where Bilbo has escaped from the goblins in the Misty Mountains and has lost a few of his coat buttons in the door. (The chapter "Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire", if you're curious.) He just saw Balin on watch and is listening to them say how they shouldn't go back in and rescue him. That's kinda surprising- I'd forgotten just how mean the dwarves were to Bilbo for most of the book. No wonder so many elves don't like dwarves. ;)
* Have you been bogged down anywhere in the book?
Nope. I mean, this is a very easy read. The only LotR book I ever got bogged down with was The Silmarillion- to quote my favorite lines for the FotR Rifftrax:
"Ah, he's reading The Silmarillion and trying desperately to pretend he's enjoying it."
"Ughh... 'Fëanor imprisoned the light of the two trees that illuminated Valinor'... oh god, I can't make it through this thing."
Now that was a book to get bogged down with, even for someone who has a degree in English and focused on British Literature. But I'm rambling- onto the next question!
* Let’s talk about the songs…are you skipping over them to get back to the prose? Why or why not?
I'll admit that I used to skip over the songs, but ever since I picked a few songs from this book and the LotR books to memorize for a poetry class in college, I now read through all of them and enjoy them more. :) (Now I'm going through the Gil-Galad poem and the walking songs in my head and trying to see how much I still remember of them...)
* What do you think of the narrator’s voice?
I still hear the book read in my dad's funny voices for the characters, so that probably doesn't help me hear the normal narrator's voice. ;)
* Does your edition have illustrations or maps? Have you been ignoring them or referring back to them?
Just the two little maps in the beginning of the book: one of Smaug's domain and one of the area from Rivendell to the Lonely Mountain. At this point I know what Middle Earth looks like, but I still flip to the maps sometimes because I like following the characters as they move around. :)
* 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?
For main characters, I've always loved Fili and Kili- I'm not a huge fan of dwarves, but there are some that I just adore (like Cheery in Pratchett's Discworld series- who has also influenced my views on dwarves. Now I wonder if some of Tolkien's dwarves were female, lol), and the two youngest dwarves in The Hobbit are right up there at the top of the "cool dwarf" pile. My dad still makes jokes about Bombur, so I guess he has a special place in my heart, too, but in a different way than the younger dwarves.
For minor characters, this isn't even something I have to think about: I adore Thranduil, even if he does come off as being conceited and... well, mean, in this book (but no wonder, when the dwarves are the main characters of the story...). I've gotta be the only person in the world who has "Greenleaf" in their nickname not because of Legolas, but because I just adore Mirkwood and the Woodland elves (my favorite race in "Dungeons and Dragons"? The Wood Elves. Surprise?), and because "Thranduiliell" was too long (and confusing to spell) a surname. Yes, technically Thranduil is a Sindarin elf rather than Silvan, but by this point in Middle Earth's history, same difference.
(Edit: And it just occurred to me that I may have confused some people here- Thranduil is only called "Elvenking" in this book, so that's who I'm talking about.)
No matter how creepy and dark Mirkwood was at the time of this book, I still love that forest, so you can probably guess that the scenes there are my favorites. So far my favorite quote in the book was at the beginning when Gandalf shows up and starts talking to Bilbo and the hobbit is shooing him off as politely as he can. Gandalf's response is "What a lot of things you do use Good morning for! Now you mean that you want to get rid of me, and that it won't be good till I move off.". That just makes me laugh whenever I read it; when they make this book into a movie, I really hope that keep that line in!
Now I have to go catch up with others in the Read-Along and see what their thoughts are. :)