So, three more new books arrived on Wednesday, each part of the current HOBBIT boom. No time to read them yet or even describe them in detail, but wanted to note them before they get buried in the ongoing avalanche.
(1). THE CHRISTIAN WORLD OF THE HOBBIT, by Devin Brown
Given that the hobbit lived before the time of Christ, that his world wd be Xian is unlikely, to say the least. That said, so far as I can tell on a quick skim Brown does a good job of striking a reasonable tone and looking at what emerges from a consideration of the material, rather than trying to impose Xian doctrine or interpretations upon Tolkien's writings; he avoids one-on-one allegorical identifications of the kind that diminish so many books of this kind. The basic premise seems to be that Tolkien's Xianity was sublimated into the world, so signs of its presence will not overt but subtle -- which is pretty much what Tolkien himself said. Despite the title, Brown* frequently draws in examples from LotR to make his points.
--Looks to be one of the better books of its kind; certainly well-written in any case, though can't know without reading it whether he makes his case. Cover blurb by Joseph Pearce and interior blurbs include ones by Shippey and a guy from HollywoodJesus.com
(2) THE HOBBIT AND PHILOSOPHY: FOR WHEN YOU'VE LOST YOUR DWARVES, YOUR WIZARD, AND YOUR WAY, ed. Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson
This one hands down wins the award for 'best subtitle', and the editorial apparatus seems to have a nice, breezy tone throughout (the mini-bios in the back are in a section titled ' our Most Excellent and Audacious Contributors'). Nine years ago Bassham and Bronson put together a similar book (THE LORD OF THE RINGS AND PHILOSOPHY: ONE BOOK TO RULE THEM ALL) back at the time of the Peter Jackson movies; now they're doing another timed to match the release of the Peter Jackson HOBBIT. The seventeen essays here range from "'The Road Goes Ever on': A Hobbit's Tao" to "Tolkien's Just War" (looking at JRRT's ideas about 'just war' theory). I expect this book will have the virtue of not just being the same-old, same-old.
--I shd note that this book belongs to a series (series editor: Wm Irwin) of books like HARRY POTTER AND PHILOSOPHY, LOST AND PHILOSOPHY, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO AND PHILOSPHY, THE DAILY SHOW AND PHILOSOPHY, THE HUNGER GAMES AND PHILOSOPHY, et al.; a number of the contributors to this book have also contributed to earlier ones in the series.
(3) THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY: OFFICIAL MOVIE GUIDE by Brian Sibley.
With a Brian Sibley book, you pretty much know what you're getting: an eight-and-a-half by eleven sized book, heavy on photographs and relatively light on text. I got this in the hopes that I might actually be able to tell the dwarves apart by the time I go to see the movie, just over a month from now. This one is purely of interest to people who want to see the movie: a lot of pictures of actors in make-up and costume (with the occasional black-and-white photo of what they really look like beneath all that), some (relatively light) information about various places and items, and a quick look at the army of dedicated people who work so hard to achieve just the right effect. So, if you want to see, say, a six-page piece on Radagast or individual profiles of all the dwarves, this is your kind of book. If you're not interested in the movies, might consider giving it a pass.
*who's heretofore mainly been a Narnia guy, with books with titles like INSIDE NARNIA, INSIDE PRINCE CASPIAN, and INSIDE THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER