And yes, it’s still good.
I first read it when I was maybe eight years old — actually I think I read a graphic novel version first, but that’s not really the point — and I’m not sure I’ve reread it even once since then, which is surprising because I love to reread. I had the basic plot down pretty well, except the occasional mis-remembering who said what, but I was shocked at how different the narration was then I remember. I’m guessing this is because I have read The Lord of the Rings at least twice since then, and everything in that book is grave, grave business. But the voice in Hobbit is downright playful. I say voice because the narrative I shows up relatively frequently — (To italicize “I”, highlight “I” and press command-I) — which fits in nicely when you think about it as written by Bilbo, even though he therefore refers to himself in the third-person throughout.
There were the occasional bits that stood out unpleasantly mostly because they didn’t jibe completely with what Tolkien put down in Lord of the Rings, and that book was so carefully constructed to make sense in a set world where everything fits together — also, Wikipedia calls the collected works of Tolkien and his son to be a “legendarium,” a great word. Apparently he regretted this later in life, kicking himself over naming the Thorin company of dwarves goofy Norse-sounding names like Ori Dori and Nori or Bifur Bofur and Bombur because they didn’t work comfortably with his extensive genealogies in the appendices of Lord of the Rings.
Oh fucking well. It’s still a good book. Good enough to get me excited about the movie adaptation, even though I’m still a little leery. Good enough that I don’t really mind that I spent Sunday and Monday reading it as opposed to doing my own writing. That’s worth something, to me anyway.