Once upon a time, I probably revisited this book every few months, and even as an adult it’d probably be once a year or so. And I never did get entirely tired of it, but it felt like I needed to take a break for a while and let it rest, and wait not just to feel idly like reading but to feel an itch to read it.
Well, that time came, and I grabbed my cute little pocket edition and devoured it in three goes (not the single gulp of childhood, but still fairly swift by my current standards). And as always, Tolkien was waiting for me, with his warm, affectionate, amused narration, his pedantic little worries about whether it’s “dwarfs” or “dwarves”, his silly (and less silly) songs and poems… And as always, I thought about how much more there always is to discover. Less so with The Hobbit, yes, but still — this time I found myself really focusing on the geography, for whatever reason, and how come Gandalf’s never taken that particular path to Rivendell, and questions like that.
Also, the wordplay. I never really followed half the “good morning” wordplay Gandalf does in the first chapter as a kid, but this time it jumped out at me.
The thing I love about Tolkien is the scope of his world. He’s reporting one story that passes through a whole world, and it shows in the small details (even when those were later tweaked for The Lord of the Rings, the fact that he had such a big world is what made it difficult to keep it consistent but let stories evolve within it). That and the warmth of his narrative voice will always carry The Hobbit for me, and make it like cuddling up with a big ol’ hot water bottle — and maybe some hot chocolate for good measure as well.