In the months leading up to the birth of our first child, I thought it would be a great idea to read to the baby in utero. And what better book to read than J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit!
My wife cut me off after about two sentences. And she likes the book.
No doubt Peter Jackson, who directed Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, will receive a warmer reception when he returns next month to complete to the tale he started. Look for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in theaters this December, followed by The Desolation of Smaug in 2013, and There and Back Again in 2014.
In the meantime, why not prepare yourself with a little background reading? In addition to copies of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and other fictional works, the library has the following books that might interest you.
Kocher, Paul Harold. Master of Middle-earth : the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien. New York : DelRey, [2003?]
Meditations on Middle Earth. New York : St. Martin’s Press, 2001.
Foster, Robert. The complete guide to Middle-earth : from the Hobbit through the Lord of the rings and beyond. New York : Ballantine Books, 2001.
Carpenter, Humphrey. J.R.R. Tolkien : a biography. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2000.
A Tolkien treasury : stories, poems, and illustrations celebrating the author and his world. Philadelphia, Pa. : Courage Books, c2000.
Tyler, J. E. A. The complete Tolkien companion. New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2004.
Day, David. A Tolkien bestiary. New York : Ballantine Books, 1979.
Hillegas, Mark Robert. Shadows of imagination; the fantasies of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams. Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press 
Carpenter, Humphrey. The Inklings : C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and their friends. London ; Boston : Allen and Unwin, 1978.
Birzer, Bradley J. J.R.R. Tolkien’s sanctifying myth : understanding Middle-earth. Wilmington, Del. : ISI Books, 2002, c2003.
The Tolkien fan’s Medieval reader. Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. : Cold Spring Press, c2004.
Shippey, T. A. The road to Middle-Earth. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1983, c1982.
Beahm, George W. The essential J.R.R. Tolkien sourcebook : a fan’s guide to Middle-earth and beyond. Franklin Lakes, N.J. : New Page Books, c2004.
Baldwin, Stanley P. J.R.R. Tolkien : his life and works. New York : SparkNotes, c2003.
Jones, Leslie. J.R.R. Tolkien : a biography. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2003.