The Hobbit. The first time I read it I was in either junior high or high school (it was a REALLY long time ago, so I can't remember exactly when!) Even though I was a voracious reader back then, the fact that I was being forced to read it automatically made me dislike it. I actually ended up liking it better than most of the other books we had to read, but that's not saying much. So I reread it, and as is often the case, loved it this time around. The descriptions of the characters, the setting, and the action are absolutely breathtaking and original. There is also a depth of emotion to the book that I had not realized before. I was especially surprised to find myself laughing out loud at scenes that I had previously found boring, and also to find myself near tears at times. Tolkien has a way of connecting you to the characters and making you care for them in a way that many authors never achieve. When I was done, I rated it a 5, even though fantasy is not one of my favorite genres, and waited patiently to have the time and extra cash to go see the movie.
I must admit that I was thoroughly prepared to be outraged by the movie. It is common knowledge that a book is always better than the movie (even though The Lord of the Rings was beautifully done), and I knew that there had been scenes and characters added that were not in the book - most notably the return of Cate Blanchett as the elf Galadriel. How could they do such a thing? Well, to be fair, they are stretching a relatively short book out into three movies, so I guess some additions are to be expected. But guess what...When I saw the movie, I actually liked the added scenes. They helped explain a few things from the book and also helped to strengthen the ties between the movies. And it goes without saying that the filming and acting were absolutely brilliant. I loved Martin Freeman as Bilbo. His facial expressions and the tone of his voice made him perfect for the role. My only problem with it is that I now have to wait a whole year before the next movie comes out (oh, and by the way, I saw somewhere that Orlando Bloom is coming back for the last movie, and I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with that addition.)