The Hobbit is just good clean fun, delightful for children and adults. If you’ve read LOTR and wondered how Bilbo got the ring, here’s the story. I enjoyed Tolkien’s omniscient narrator style in this book — somewhat like Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, and more recently Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell — which I suppose he adopted because he was writing for children. I think it’s charming.
I highly recommend the audiobook, read by Rob Inglis. He’s a Royal Shakespeare company actor and the best audiobook reader I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard a lot of them). He has a different voice for each dwarf, and he does a great Gollum, too. He actually sings the songs (nice voice!) and he even belches up ponies. The scene with the trolls is especially well-done. Mr. Ingliss could probably make one of Terry Goodkind’s later books sound exciting, but The Hobbit actually is exciting and I highly recommend it for adults and kids.