Note: I started this post on December 5th, then got busy with other things and am only now getting back to it. It's no longer as timely, but still seemed worthwhile for the sake of trying to be reasonably complete in listing the new HOBBIT-themed books as they've been coming out, albeit w. much less commentary this time around. Here's the original post from three weeks ago:
So, we've now reached the point at which the arrival of new Hobbit-themed books can definitely be described as a Throng. Monday (12/3) brought three more, two of them pre-ordered months ago and the third having recently been added on once I learned of its existence (unfortunately the day before I saw it in a local bookstore, where I cd have supported a bookstore and gotten to take it home then and there, alas).
Monday the 3rd:
Mark Atherton THERE AND BACK AGAIN: J R R TOLKIEN AND THE ORIGINS OF THE HOBBIT [Dec. 2012]
Lynette Porter THE HOBBITS: THE MANY LIVES OF BILBO, FRODO, SAM, MERRY and PIPPIN [Dec. 2012]
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY -- THE WORLD OF HOBBITS by Paddy Kempshall [Nov. 2012]
Tuesday the 4th
TOLKIEN TRIVIA: A MIDDLE-EARTH MISCELLANY by Wm McKay 
John Vassos PHOBIA [:AN ART DECO GRAPHIC MASTERPIECE]. 2009 Dover rpt of 1931 limited-edition origin. (see post from a few days back)
H. P. Lovecraft's THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS [The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, 2011]
[end original draft-post]
--I also, in passing, noted that I'd received a notice that the AGE OF THE HOBBITS direct-to-dvd film had been delayed, which I suspected presaged cancellation and speculated that the lawsuit had proved efficacious. I was totally wrong about that: AGE OF THE HOBBITS duly arrived on Monday the 17th. I've now watched it and will review if I have the chance at some future point, but for now suffice it to say it has no connection to Tolkien's world or story at all.
Of the books listed above, The Vassos will be a great Mythos tome in some future CALL OF CTHULHU scenario (think Dunsany's "Bureau de Exchange du Mal") and, as I said in an earlier post, makes an interesting juxtaposition to Tolkien's early BOOK OF ISHNESS (which I assume will see a facsimile reproduction someday, but probably not for years and years to come).
The Kempshall proved to be the most useful of all the movie-tie in books (at least until the subsequent publication of THE HOBBIT CHRONICLES: ART AND DESIGN) and a great help in sorting out the dwarves before going to see the actual movie. The Porter (her second book) I haven't looked at yet; seems to take a longer view and survey the different attempts to film Tolkien's work (a topic I've long been interested in, and attempted to deal with on a smaller scale in my contribution to Phil and Jan's book PICTURING TOLKIEN)
The Atherton looks to be an interesting book: the only one among the recent surge that doesn't come across as a movie tie-in or book written specifically to take advantage of publicity surrounding the films (two other books I'd put in the same category came out somewhat earlier, Corey Olsen's EXPLORING THE HOBBIT and Wayne and Christina's THE ART OF THE HOBBIT). More on this when somewhere down the line when I've had a chance to read it.
As for the McKay TOLKIEN TRIVIA book, I have some real problems with this one -- so much so that I think I'll save that for another post.
Merry Christmas, all!
an anecdote from Denis Healey
1 hour ago