The Hobbit :: Week Four

Welcome to the The Hobbit read-a-long! We’re reading this book through November and December. You can see the reading schedule and guidelines on the Starting Post Page.

Week Four: Read to Chapter IX


This week’s reading was long, but you made it through and we are halfway there! We also made it to the part that I remember from when I was twelve… the spiders! the forest! Only, I can see in my mind’s eye what it looked like in my twelve year old brain and I can report that it has changed dramatically. It was much more whimsical, magical, and (honestly) scary as a twelve year old. Much more realistic twenty years later. Interesting – and glad I could remember it so vividly to compare!

Since there was so much happening in this reading, I really can’t recap (too many flags in my book, darn it! Must learn to control myself). I can tell you that my favorite part of the book was when Beorn took them in, fed them, and gave them a safe place to sleep. I could honestly feel my body relax at the description of it all (and I liked very much that Beorn was so protective over them and his ponies – nice imagery).

Let’s start the discussion with what you’re favorite part of the book was this week.

Who’s Reading Along:

** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each Friday and share your thoughts in the comments section of the weekly Wuthering Heightsdiscussion (see below for more information).**

Catlyn Lawson (@ZombieCupcake90)
Melissa Caldwell
Meg @ A Bookish Affair
Sarah D
June @So_Meow
Emma S.
Brittany M
Jenny Colvin (@readingenvy)
kai charles (@YogiKai)

Friendly Reminders:

  • If you are participating and I don’t have you on this list, please let me know in the comments section. I did not include people who said ‘maybe’ so if you have changed your mind and are definitely reading along with us, let me know so I can add you. Also, if you are not going to be able to join us anymore please let me know and I will take you off the list.
  • Comments from the previous week’s reading will be closing Thursday afternoon (before the next discussion takes place on Friday). If you would like to be part of the discussion, please remember to comment before then.
  • Each week, on Friday, share your thoughts about the previous week’s reading. If you are stuck on what to comment about, you can respond to my post or others’ comments. Regardless, you MUST check in each week (two weeks without a response and you will be taken off of the list — see below for details on why). You may have only one “off week” (which may not be the last week of reading for obvious reasons) and still be kept on the list, but you must let me know in the comment section by saying something like, “I’m catching up,” or “I’m still reading.” ***for all week’s discussions please refrain from posting ahead, even if you have read ahead, as to not spoil the book for others***
  • If you are a blogger you may post a link to your blog if you are posting about each of the each week’s reading. If I, or other readers, have extra time we will gladly try to visit your blog; however, you must make sure to share your thoughts here on this blog, and be part of the main conversation or your comment will not be counted.
  • If you go for two weeks without commenting in my weekly update comments section, I will assume you are no longer participating and will take you off of the list (*NEW GUIDELINE*, in order to get back onthe list, you need to a.) Have missed no more than two weeks of discussion, b.) Let me know you would like to be on the list again, and c.) consistently be part of the discussion for the next two weeks after requesting to be put back on the list.). This is in no way to be discouraging, but helps to keep the read-a-long organized (and helps me remember who’s completed what read-a-long…there (ahem) might be something fun for different levels of participants at the end of the year! Thanks!

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55 thoughts on “The Hobbit :: Week Four

  1. You’ve hit on exactly why I think we need to re-read more books in our own lives. Again, I read this book back late in elementary school or early in middle school and I was definitely more creeped out by some of the descriptions in the book, especially about the SPIDERS, that time around than I was this time around. This time around, it didn’t seem like it was really scary at all. It’s so strange and kind of cool how books can elicit different responses depending on when you read them. In a way, I think the ability for me to compare my reading of this book back in the day and how reacted to how it is making react now.

    This brings up another question, what age group do you all think that Tolkien geared this book for? I’ve been struck by how easy of a read it is this time around. I definitely didn’t think it was easy last time!

      • My 9 year old godson read it and understood it well. He’s onto LOTR now :) I love that he is a bookworm! But I agree…I think it is geared toward children. It is written vastly different than the LOTR books.

        • I have read that the book was specifically written as a story for Tolkien’s own children. LOTR was planned as a sequel, but ended up being much more than that.

    • Maybe I’m just being naive but I don’t think he had one. I can see this book being amazing to every age! I think it has enough “inside nods” to the grown ups and enough of the fantastical for the youngin’s.

    • I would have no problem reading this to even a seven year old, depending on their attention span. It isn’t too scary, and as a bedtime story it could be quite fun! I used to read The BFG to my Kindergartners and they loved it, so I think it all depends on how you, as the reader, read it. But I think reading it independently would depend on the child, and I agree that the norm would probably be what Jacqueline mentioned.

  2. My favorite part occurred when Gandalf (before he left) told Bilbo, “And I’m not going to allow you to back out now, Mr. Baggins. I am ashamed of you for thinking of it. You have got to look after these dwarves for me.” Bilbo? Really? Did Gandalf really believe that Bilbo could keep them to the quest, or was he trying to give Bilbo confidence? I thought Thorin was their leader.

    However, by the next chapter, we see the hero Bilbo became when he rescued the dwarves from the spiders. YUCK! Even Bilbo “began to feel there really was something of a bold adventurer about himself.” And the dwarves have a new-found respect for him. Is this more foreshadowing for events to come where we’ll see Bilbo as a leader? Interesting, especially since Thorin is thrown in the dungeon of the Wood-elves! I think I’ll stick to the path and continue with the next chapter to see how this plays out.

  3. My favorite part was easily the beginning of chapter eight. I liked how Tolkien set up the atmosphere of the entrance to the forest.

    I also like Bilbo’s boldness and bravery…and I was surprised he revealed the power of the ring to the dwarves.

  4. I really loved the respite the crew got by staying at Beorn’s. I loved how Gandolf gently introduced everyone in pairs…So smart!!

    The SPIDERS…Oh my goodness…They were much creepier to me than the Goblins!! They reminded me of the episode of the GIGANTIC spider in the cave on Gilligan’s Island!!! The poor dwarves, in a web hanging from trees and being poked and proded!!

    i love seeing Biblo evolving into his role…Becoming braver and more confident!

    • I loved the magical haven of Beorn too. Beorn’s bear/man-ness is wonderful — a gentle giant who eats milk and honey but is incredibly loyal and fierce.

      A little word nerd stuff (from wikipedia):

      In naming his character, Tolkien used beorn, an Old English word for bear, which later came to mean man and warrior (with implications of freeman and nobleman in Anglo-Saxon society). It is related to the Scandinavian names Björn (Icelandic and Swedish) and Bjørn (Norwegian and Danish), meaning bear. The word baron is indirectly related to beorn.

  5. I agree the spiders were way scarier than the Goblins!! Eeeewwww! Nasty things.

    I love Gandalf’s clever way of securing hospitality for all of the dwarves and Bilbo. He is just so GOOD at everything, it’ll be interesting to see how the gang does without him. Honestly I’m a little worried for them! I don’t remember how this story turns out at all so I feel like I’m reading it for the first time.

  6. And I especially like how Tolkien encourages attentive readers. We are told that Thorin is missed only after they are all saved from the spiders, but while Bilbo is rescuing the dwarves, it is mentioned, that there are 12 of them. “12 + 1 is only 13!” – I wanted to cry out =) I was nervous for several pages that they had forgotten somebody!

  7. Am I the only one who thought the images of the sumptuous feasts in the woods were only a magical illusion to get our intrepid crew off the path and into danger? Each image sucked them deeper and deeper into the forest and I was convinced that it was a deliberate trap set up by some malevolent force to get them. Of course it turns out the temptation of the feasts were dangerous to our crew, but I was mighty surprised to learn towards the end of the chapter that the wood-elves are real!

      • Yes, Melissa, that was exactly my thought too. When you are in a magical world it’s hard to know what powers each of the creatures are capable of.

        I was yelling at them to get back on the path too, Jackie (also in my head, or at least I think it was just in my head — I don’t remember getting any strange looks on the subway as I read that passage!)

        • I would be so terrible on this adventure… I had forgotten that they weren’t allowed to leave the path!

          I didn’t think anything of the parties other than the fact that I was frustrated they kept missing them, ha!

    • I thought they were illusions, too! Or if not illusions, that they were just set up to lure the group away from the path. Gandalf put so much emphasis on staying on the path that I was certain something strange was going on.

      • Interested in types of elves? One more reason to read Silmarillion! ) There are basically three types (we’ve seen two already), if I remember right, but river elves don’t appear in any books.

    • I’m not sure they are really evil. They don’t like dwarves, that’s true, but this it kind of mutual. Also, would you be too hospital towards complete strangers, is you live in such an evil place?) And I don’t mean just spiders, there is also the Necromancer in the same forest!

  8. I loved the groups time with Beorn. I laughed so much at Gandallf’s subtle way of bringing the whole group to Beorn’s door. It speakes so much to the power of stories and how in middle earth a good story is better than gold! Tolkein also continues to impress me with his storytelling. He manages to slip in foreshadowing like the scene where he says how Bilbo will never see the eagles again except from a long distance, and how the eagles will be wearing Dwarf gold. Yet he also fills the reader with palpable fear for the fate of the party. Really enjoying it :)

  9. Oops! I’ve been out of town for Thanksgiving, and then I ended up sick, and I think somewhere in between I’ve missed two weeks of comments. I’ll catch up today and then be back to post!

    • Hi Ashley! Yes, I have you off of the list, but if you want back on just go ahead and comment this week and next and I’ll add you back on. :)

      Hope you’re feeling better!!

  10. I LOVED their queer lodgings…especially the animals waiting on them! Dying to see how the movie pulls it off…and the “animal noises turned into talk.” (Wasn’t it cute how Beorn called Bilbo “little bunny?”) Oh, and the bees! I dearly love bees and would love to hear the noise of those giant ones filling the air.
    Loved how Beorn regaled them with his stories, only ‘half’ listened to theirs, then slipped away to corroborate everything.

    COULD Balin have been more relieved (and overjoyed!) to learn THE RING was the reason Bilbo got past him? “Well I’m blest. Now I know! Good old Bilbo–Bilbo–Bilbo–”

    Gandalf: “This is not my adventure.” “I MAY look in on you again before it’s all over.” (Was there even a CHANCE he might not?)

    OH THE TORTURE of those unattainable faerie feasts! The vivid food dreams they never wanted to wake up from! Hunger had them obsessed with sleeping!!

    And the sheer poetry of ALL of it. The old trees leaning over them, listening. The intense allegory of the forest…coming “to thinner trees and places where the sunlight came again” IF they kept up their courage and hope. “You must either go through or give up your quest.”

    • Ms. Meow — I heard that the Beorn section is going to be one of the most exciting special effects extravaganzas of the whole Hobbit film!!!! Not too much longer to wait :)

    • I loved how Balin kept talking about Bilbo and the ring, etc.,
      until he passed out from exhaustion. So funny…..

    • I keep trying to envision how they are going to set up EVERY scene… think this is going to ruin the movie for me? I don’t really care, it’s making reading the book even more fun. :)

  11. My favorite scene was the visit to Beorn’s. Maybe because they had been adventuring and were weary, maybe because it is the time of year (holiday season for us) where it is so wonderful to have a bit of hearth and home, but the simple beds and tables, the wonderful food, the stories, all provided much needed respite. It must gave warmed our hobbit’s heart.

    The scene where Bilbo wakes and sees the shadows outside, the voices, was wonderful and a needed antidote to all the terrible adventures.

  12. I loved the part of the story with Beorn, but I’m going to buck the trend and say my favorite part was the spiders. Just because I was anxiously biting my nails as I read it. The way Tolkien set that whole part up was just amazeballs. I had grubby little stumps for nails after I finished!

  13. I LOVE how Gandalf tricks Beorn into taking in their whole group. He plays on Beorn’s natural curiosity and it’s so funny to read.

    I love how Tolkien portrays Beorn. He takes them in and protects him, but he’s still dangerous. A very good lesson for all children (and adults!) to learn.

    The spiders! Bilbo proving that it was a good idea to bring him along (: His songs are so catchy.

  14. I’m still behind, Wallace. I guess I should have divulged that I’m separating from my husband and my sons and I have moved in with my mom. It was a large move…3000+ books and all…and we are now in the long process of unpacking. If you can give me one more week, I’ll be caught up. I appreciate it. :)

    • Oh my gosh – of course. I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a rough time! You’re up to date here, anyway, so don’t even worry about that.

  15. I love Beorn, I really wish there was more of him in the book. He reminds me of Bombadil a little bit.

    And there’s the little mention of Sauron (The Necromancer). I’m really looking forward to see what PJ does with this, since they got Benedict Cumberbatch to voice him. Got to be more than mentioned in the book.

    The spiders are a bit creepy, but they didn’t bother me as much as Shelob, or the ones in Harry Potter. They just don’t seem as bad as they could be. And love the Bilbo recognizes he is letting his inner Took out, when he names Sting. He’s starting to become the Hobbit we know in LOTR.

  16. Sorry for my late post. I am finishing up my internship this week, so I have been very busy. I will be back in the game next week.

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