The Hobbit, hands down. I love Lord of the Rings, but this one takes first prize as my favorite Tolkien work. Part of it is the childhood nostalgia, but in terms of readability and character development, I think The Hobbit outstrips both Lord of the Rings and Silmerillion easily.

Because this story is more for children, it’s got a more light-hearted feel to it and is easier to read and re-read than either of the aforementioned books. The prose are still poetic and fantasy-esque, but less complex than his later works. Still, I found that reading it aloud is quite the challenge. It’s easy to trip over the oh-so-British turn of phrase that flows so smoothly on paper, even if you’re used to that kind of writing.

Also, it’s got a narrower scope, so the plot moves faster and each individual character gets more attention. You get to know Biblo and the dwarves more intimately than you do Frodo and Aragorn, simply because you’re able to spend more time with them.  Perhaps the plot isn’t as intricate or innovative as other stories, but the story is charming and the characters endearing. I still sniffle at the deaths of Fili, Kili, and Thorin and my heart broke the first time I read the scene where Bilbo falls out with them. In the same manner though, I loved the surprise tea party in the beginning and wished that I could linger in Beorn’s house before facing the horrors of Mirkwood. So, I would have to say that The Hobbit doesn’t suffer because of its lack of grandeur.

And I know I said in my last post that part of what made Tokien a genius was his ability to craft his own languages, but one thing that I enjoy in The Hobbit is the lack of Elven poetry. Yes, it’s gorgeous to hear, and yes, the complexity and completeness of the dialects is stunning, but I still don’t know what it’s saying. Keeping the songs and poems to a minimum and mostly in English was a very smart move – it enabled me to enjoy them without feeling overwhelmed or lost.

Yup, so there we are. The Hobbit rocks, and I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow it. It’s just a fun story to read no matter how many times you’ve already read it.