But from the opening line, I've had a very peculiar in-head sensation which just won't go away.
I'm calling it Postgate-itis because the effect is as though I'm reading the book as if it was being spoken by Oliver Postgate ! Very bizarre but stick with me on this..........
Oliver Postgate was a British writer, animator and puppeteer (1925-2008) who created and narrated some of the best children's stories ever to grace UK tv screens when I was growing up.
Ivor The Engine, Bagpuss, Clangers and Pogles' Wood were all his creations and Bagpuss was voted the most popular children's television programme of all time.
He also created and narrated my particular favourite, Noggin The Nog, and this is what is coming into my head when I read The Hobbit.
Postgate's voice mesmerised me as a child. He was to narration what J.K. Rowling has been to wizards. He brought the stories to life for me and back in the day, his little cut out characters that jerked their way across beautifully drawn backgrounds laid the foundations for animations to come, including South Park.
I shouldn't mention South Park in the same breath as the creations of Oliver Postgate as by and large, his stories were as gentle as South Park's are aggressive.
Despite being set in a Viking type era complete with dragons, flying machines and talking birds, Noggin was a good natured King of the Northmen and the stories always had happy endings. As a child I remember the 'baddies' had large pointy noses and chins so that there was no doubt that they WERE baddies. Even today I never trust people with large pointy noses and chins.
Maybe this is why I have issues with Bruce Forsyth and to a lesser extent, Jay Leno !
Mind you, it helped when these 'baddies' had names like Nogbad the Bad.
Well I never said it was subtle and we children of the 50's needed all the help we could get.
There aren't many tv shows from the 50's that would enthral children these days but I think that Postgate's stories and the animated shows were so timeless that they would still be popular today. Sadly kids are now being fed a diet of fast action shows with such tight edits that a 2 second burst is deemed too long. In fact all tv is like that now. Watch any commercial or action show and if a scene lasts more than a couple of seconds, they assume the audience will switch over.
Previews of upcoming movies are the worst for this. They cram in all the nonsense about what critics are saying about the movie and how they are already calling it 'the best movie of the year.'
Not much of an accolade when we're in the 3rd week of January !
Meanwhile, we're being assaulted by one second bursts of the best action clips, so fast in fact that they are borderline subliminal. And finally we get to when the movie is due to be released but those words are lost to the human ear as they are spoken by the same guy who tells us in 5 seconds about the possible side effects of every medicinal product advertised on tv.
"Possible side effects include......blah......blah......blah......death.......blah......blah....blah."
So I think modern kids should be introduced to Noggin The Nog and the other creations of the brilliant Oliver Postgate. They'd be transported to magical lands full of colourful characters and best of all, given the time to let their own imaginations fill in any gaps.
A child's imagination is a wondrous place which can only be improved with characters like Noggin, Bagpuss, Ivor and even a few Clangers.
Trust me. The memories of them will last a lifetime.
So have a watch and more importantly, a listen to this video clip from a later episode when they were produced in glorious colour. Then think of hearing that voice as you read The Hobbit.
Bilbo Baggins.....meet Oliver Postgate.