“The Hobbit” by J R R Tolkien (1937)
You may find this quite hard to believe, but this is the first time I have ever ‘listened’ to a book. Several of my friends have recommended audiobooks, and I have contemplated it, but resisted it, for years.
I actually purchased the audiobook of “The Hobbit” more than two years ago. The plan was to listen to it with hubby while we were on a two week road trip to South Australia in July, 2012. We did, in fact, listen to about 6 hours of it, which we both thoroughly enjoyed, especially driving across the Hay Plains, but we never did get back to it, and so it has been waiting patiently ever since.
Then, in August, on a long drive to the snow one Friday night, we started again from the beginning. After that 3 hour listen, again, we never went back to it. So then it was October. After agreeing with Luke that we were clearly not going to actually listen to the book together, I continued from where we got up to in August, and, on a beautiful two-hour walk, and on the many lone drives I have been on this last week, I listened to the whole thing.
This is not my first ‘read’ of “The Hobbit”. The first time I read it, I was 10 and lived in Queensland. I love to tell the story in class that I was a determined little thing at 10. My brother had read the book and so I was going to read it. There was no room for doubt. (We are actually still a little book-competitive, I think). And whenever I came across a word I wasn’t familiar with, I simply skipped it and kept reading. This may explain why my memory of the plot was a little awry.
I can’t decide whether or not you need a summary, dear reader. Is there anyone in the western world who doesn’t have a rough idea what “The Hobbit” is about? Well, just in case… Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, is convinced by a wizard, Gandalf, to embark on an adventure with a group of dwarves who are on a quest to recover their riches from an evil dragon, Smaug. On their journey they encounter all manner of obstacles and Bilbo is the hero of the moment on more than one occasion.
The truth is, as I have admitted in previous posts, I’m really not a fan of the fantasy genre. We chose “The Hobbit” as our first foray into audiobooks because it was a book we both only had vague recollections about, and, at the time, more than two years ago, the story was on it’s way to the cinema in the form of 3 films, so we were keen to reacquaint ourselves with the plot.
Of course, as I’ve said already, that’s not what actually happened. But having it sitting already on my phone, it seemed logical to finish the listen. To be honest, I frequently found myself having drifted off to thinking about other things while I was listening. Only ever for a moment or two, it was always easy enough to pick back up what was going on, but I did find it quite disconcerting. I’m looking forward to finding out if this was a consequence of the genre, which is ridiculously long-winded, or the mode – listening to, rather than reading the book. Nevertheless, I absolutely loved this book and I’m very glad I listened to it.
I’m definitely sold on the concept of audiobooks, though. Last night, once I had finished listening to “The Hobbit”, I downloaded my next audiobook – another one with connections to my childhood – “Wind in the Willows”. A book that was first read to me as a child, and then read by me to my own children.
I’m very keen to hear what others think about audiobooks and whether people who read my blog are book listeners too. If you are, do you have a genre preference? Any recommendations?