The Hobbit – Lord of the Rings – 100 Best Books

The Hobbit

Started: 5/2/2016

Finished: 7/15/2016

The Hobbit is the prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. I have included this series as a whole, as one entry on my list of the 100 Best Books of All Time and on my list of the 100 Best Sci Fi and Fantasy Books.

The Hobbit Plot Summary (Spoilers):

A wizard, named Gandalf, arranges a surprise meeting between a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins and a company of Dwarves, lead by Thorin Oakenshield, who are on a quest to recover their lost home and treasure from the clutches of a dragon named Smaug.

Bilbo is reluctant to join the Dwarves’ quest, in spite of Gandalf nominating him as the Dwarves’ burglar, but eventually he is persuaded/manipulated into joining the expedition.

The company must traverse The Wild on their way to The Lonely Mountain, where Thorin’s people once ruled. Along the way, they confront Goblins, Spiders and Elves. With some help from Gandalf, the Eagles and a shapeshifter named Beorn, the company manages to overcome these obstacles and reach their destination.

While lost in the Goblin tunnels, Bilbo finds a magic ring, which renders its wearer invisible. Bilbo encounters a strange creature named Gollum,  who challenges him to a game of riddles. Bilbo wins the game, but when Gollum discovers he has lost his precious ring and begins to suspect Bilbo of taking it, Gollum flies into a rage and attempts to kill Bilbo and take the ring. Bilbo uses the ring to turn invisible and escape Gollum and the tunnels.

Bilbo, who is thought of as something of a joke at the outset of the expedition, earns the respect of the Dwarves on the quest by using his magic ring to assist them in escaping first from the Spiders and then from the Wood Elves’ dungeon.

Bilbo is also instrumental in figuring out how to unlock the door to get into The Lonely Mountain and confront Smaug. Once inside, Bilbo uses his ring to scout out the Dragon’s treasure hoard. Bilbo discovers a gem called the Arkenstone, which he steals and then hides, and the dragon Smaug’s weak spot while scouting the treasure hoard. Bilbo shares the dragon’s weakness with the Dwarves, which an old Thrush overhears, but he keeps his possession of the Arkenstone, which Thorin has been searching for, a secret.

When Smaug discovers some of his treasure missing, he is enraged and having learned of the lakemen’s assistance to the dwarves from Bilbo, during his scouting mission, Smaug leaves the mountain and attacks the lake-town. The old Thrush shares the dragon’s weak spot with Bard, who leads the defense for the lakemen. Bard exploits the dragon’s weakness and kills him with an arrow.

The lakemen and a company of Wood Elves march on The Lonely Mountain and demand a share of the treasure as compensation for the destruction of the Lake-Town and Bard’s slaying of Smaug, but Thorin refuses and summons the aid of his relatives to fight Bard’s men and the Elves.

In an effort to avoid a war, Bilbo gives Bard the Arkenstone, so that Bard may  use it to bargain with Thorin. Thorin is enraged and casts Bilbo out. War seems imminent between the Dwarves and the coalition of men and elves, but Gandalf arrives warning of an attack by a large force of Goblins.

The Dwarves band together with Bard’s forces, but are nearly defeated. The Eagles and the shapeshifter Beorn join the battle just in time to fend off the Goblins, but Thorin is fatally wounded in the fighting. Before Thorin dies, he reconciles with Bilbo. Bard buries Thorin with the Arkenstone and Thorin’s successor, Dain, awards Bard his promised share of the treasure.

Bard offers Bilbo his fair share of the treasure, but Bilbo refuses. However, thanks to the treasure they hid after confronting the Trolls, Bilbo still returns home a wealthy man. Bilbo learns that while Gandalf was separated from the Dwarves, he had been meeting with other wizards and organizing a force to drive an evil being called The Necromancer out of the The Wild.

Bilbo is forced to deal with some legal issues and loss of reputation upon his return, having been presumed dead and become considered a bit reckless and foolish for running off on his adventure with Gandalf and the Dwarves. However, Bilbo lives quite happily, enjoys friendship with Dwarves, Men and Elves and often tells the tale of his adventures, and eventually records them in a book. Bilbo gifts most of his wealth to his nieces and nephews, making him a very popular uncle. However, he keeps his magic ring a secret for all of his many years.

The Hobbit Commentary (Spoilers):

Though their are some grim moments in The Hobbit, most of the novel has quiet a light-hearted tone to it. Bilbo and his companions get into one scrape after another, but there is much singing and joking and general frivolity throughout the adventure.

The story is an enjoyable tale about Bilbo’s transformation from a timid fellow who has no desire to ever leave his Hobbit Hole to a bold adventurer, who while not always entirely successful, plays a pivotal role in defeating the dragon Smaug and makes a valiant, if not exactly successful, attempt to avert a war fueled by Thorin’s greed and lust for treasure.

Bilbo returns home a different Hobbit and his actions on this journey set in motion the epic events to come in the far darker and more dramatic tale told in The Lord of the Rings.




100 Best Books of All Time – Read Them All

Reading has been a passion of mine since I was a little kid.  One of my best childhood memories is excitedly anticipating the book catalog they passed around at my grade school a few times a year. Exploring the public library in St. Louis, when visiting my grandparents on summer vacation, was even better than that.  Our little town had a library, but it was a sad little one room affair.

Other than the occasional recommendation from a friend, book I read because I liked the movie or book I was forced to read at school, I have mostly stuck to my favorites genres over the years.  Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Stephen King.  However, I realize there is more to the world of books and thus, would like to read the 100 “best” books of all time.

So, how do I determine which are the 100 best? The Internet of course.  I googled “100 best books of all time” and opened up the first couple pages of results.  I chose the 100 books that appeared on those lists the most times.  Among those with equal scores, I chose the books I was most interested in reading.

These are the 100 books I will tackle:

  1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  2. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  3. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  4. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  5. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  6. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
  7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  9. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  10. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  11. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  12. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  13. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  14. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  15. A Passage to India by EM Forster
  16. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  17. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  18. Go Tell it On the Mountain by James Baldwin
  19. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  20. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  21. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  22. Native Son by Richard Wright
  23. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  24. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  25. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  26. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  27. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  28. The Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien
  29. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  30. Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
  31. Ulysses by James Joyce
  32. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  33. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  34. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  35. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  36. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  37. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Louis Carroll
  38. All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
  39. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  40. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  41. Are You There God? It’s me Margaret by Judy Blume
  42. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  43. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  44. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  45. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  46. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  47. Dune by Frank Herbert
  48. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
  49. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  50. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  51. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  52. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  53. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  54. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  55. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  56. Herzog by Saul Bellow
  57. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
  58. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  59. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  60. Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  61. Light in August by William Faulkner
  62. Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott
  63. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  64. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
  65. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  66. Neuromancer by William Gibson
  67. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
  68. Oedipus the King by Sophocles
  69. Pale Fire by Vldimir Nabokov
  70. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  71. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  72. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  73. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  74. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
  75. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
  76. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  77. The Aeneid by Virgil
  78. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  79. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  80. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  81. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  82. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  83. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  84. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  85. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  86. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  87. The Illiad by Homer
  88. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  89. The Odyssey by Homer
  90. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  91. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  92. The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  93. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  94. The Tin Drum by Günter Grass
  95. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  96. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  97. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora N. Hurston
  98. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
  99. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
  100. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Sources: 100 Best Books 100 Best Novels

I have read some of these already, but will most likely read them again.  I will update the blog when I start tackling the list.