Ginia Bellafante, in a review of HBO’s “A Game of Thrones,” that makes its television debut this weekend and stars LOTR’s Sean Bean, insinuates that women, or at least women in book clubs, aren’t passionate about “The Hobbit,” the beloved book by J.R.R. Tolkien. With over 10 years of experiences with fans of Middle-earth, and the many women that are passionate about it, Ms. Bellafante might be missing something. She said:

While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.

Readers of the interwebs, especially the females, are a bit miffed at the writer and there are several good female-authored blogs and responses, (read after the break for a list of some of the more notable responses) but most are from the perspective of “Game of Thrones,” readers. So, Tolkienites, do you agree or disagree with the above statement and the full review?
TheNerdybird.com
Geek with curves
Geekmom
Why men can’t like “Game of Thrones”
Geek girl diva
Pajiba.com
Thinkhero.com
Read the review that started the blogger firestorm right here.

Comments

  1. Most of my friends that like The Hobbit and LOTR are women. I remember breaking out my brand new LOTR tattoo, proudly showing it off, only to find my friend Lisa was wearing a copy of Nenya at that moment! My friend Kat and I quote LOTR all the time. Ms. Bellafante obviously missed quite a few women in her eagerness to speak for all of them.

  2. Kissychick

    Boy fiction? Really? The Hobbit has been one of my most beloved books since childhood. I’d also like to point out that my book club has read many sci-fi books over the years. In fact our current read is a sci-fi book. The book club is entirely made of women. I have a feeling that Ms.Bellafante also thinks that men should be the breadwinners and a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

  3. Kissychick

    Boy fiction? Really? The Hobbit has been one of my most beloved books since childhood. I’d also like to point out that my book club has read many sci-fi books over the years. In fact our current read is a sci-fi book. The book club is entirely made of women. I have a feeling that Ms.Bellafante also thinks that men should be the breadwinners and a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

  4. Kissychick

    Boy fiction? Really? The Hobbit has been one of my most beloved books since childhood. I’d also like to point out that my book club has read many sci-fi books over the years. In fact our current read is a sci-fi book. The book club is entirely made of women. I have a feeling that Ms.Bellafante also thinks that men should be the breadwinners and a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

  5. This is my “Letter to the Editor” of the NY Times, regarding the review. I hardly expect them to publish it, so I share it here:

    Dear Editor,

    I love the George R.R. Martin books and am very excited to see whether HBO has done a good job translating these beloved stories to screen.

    Since many of my friends—of both genders—are looking forward to the “Game of Thrones” series premiere, Ms. Bellafante’s review made me laugh… and then it made me a little sad.

    Why are sweeping, imaginative, complex, epic stories asserted to be for boys only?!

    I am a woman. And if I were in a book club, I would absolutely choose “The Hobbit” over any of Lorrie Moore’s work. (Not to disparage her work, mind you, as she is a fine writer. But her work is like delicious literary snacking; not something to really sink your teeth into.)

    I love the George R. R. Martin books for the same reasons I loved the “Clan of the Cave Bear” books, all of Tolkein’s work, “Harry Potter” and many other epic stories: I am a voracious reader and most novels are so quick to read, I get an hour or two with the writer’s world and then they’re gone. Epic books and series let you dive into a world and explore it for days or weeks… glorious reading!

    I understand that the books may not be her personal cup of tea. But I expect better of the NYT and it’s writers than to claim to speak for all women on this matter and be dismissive of a show based solely on her narrow view of other women. I promise you: many genuine female fans of GRRM do, in fact, exist. This fan, at least, would have liked to read an actual review of the show by someone who could evaluate it more accurately.

  6. This is my “Letter to the Editor” of the NY Times, regarding the review. I hardly expect them to publish it, so I share it here:

    Dear Editor,

    I love the George R.R. Martin books and am very excited to see whether HBO has done a good job translating these beloved stories to screen.

    Since many of my friends—of both genders—are looking forward to the “Game of Thrones” series premiere, Ms. Bellafante’s review made me laugh… and then it made me a little sad.

    Why are sweeping, imaginative, complex, epic stories asserted to be for boys only?!

    I am a woman. And if I were in a book club, I would absolutely choose “The Hobbit” over any of Lorrie Moore’s work. (Not to disparage her work, mind you, as she is a fine writer. But her work is like delicious literary snacking; not something to really sink your teeth into.)

    I love the George R. R. Martin books for the same reasons I loved the “Clan of the Cave Bear” books, all of Tolkein’s work, “Harry Potter” and many other epic stories: I am a voracious reader and most novels are so quick to read, I get an hour or two with the writer’s world and then they’re gone. Epic books and series let you dive into a world and explore it for days or weeks… glorious reading!

    I understand that the books may not be her personal cup of tea. But I expect better of the NYT and it’s writers than to claim to speak for all women on this matter and be dismissive of a show based solely on her narrow view of other women. I promise you: many genuine female fans of GRRM do, in fact, exist. This fan, at least, would have liked to read an actual review of the show by someone who could evaluate it more accurately.

  7. This is my “Letter to the Editor” of the NY Times, regarding the review. I hardly expect them to publish it, so I share it here:

    Dear Editor,

    I love the George R.R. Martin books and am very excited to see whether HBO has done a good job translating these beloved stories to screen.

    Since many of my friends—of both genders—are looking forward to the “Game of Thrones” series premiere, Ms. Bellafante’s review made me laugh… and then it made me a little sad.

    Why are sweeping, imaginative, complex, epic stories asserted to be for boys only?!

    I am a woman. And if I were in a book club, I would absolutely choose “The Hobbit” over any of Lorrie Moore’s work. (Not to disparage her work, mind you, as she is a fine writer. But her work is like delicious literary snacking; not something to really sink your teeth into.)

    I love the George R. R. Martin books for the same reasons I loved the “Clan of the Cave Bear” books, all of Tolkein’s work, “Harry Potter” and many other epic stories: I am a voracious reader and most novels are so quick to read, I get an hour or two with the writer’s world and then they’re gone. Epic books and series let you dive into a world and explore it for days or weeks… glorious reading!

    I understand that the books may not be her personal cup of tea. But I expect better of the NYT and it’s writers than to claim to speak for all women on this matter and be dismissive of a show based solely on her narrow view of other women. I promise you: many genuine female fans of GRRM do, in fact, exist. This fan, at least, would have liked to read an actual review of the show by someone who could evaluate it more accurately.

  8. Rina

    I’m female, and I’ve been a Tolkien fan since I was at least 10. I’m only 18 now, but I see no reason why women would not enjoy The Hobbit (and Tolkien’s other works) as much as I do. Many of my female friends also enjoy the movies and novels, just as much as my male friends.
    This is just an ignorant statement. I’ve been able to relate to characters from The Hobbit and LOTR–that’s why I feel it is such an incredible series. It spans generations, gender, race.

  9. Rina

    I’m female, and I’ve been a Tolkien fan since I was at least 10. I’m only 18 now, but I see no reason why women would not enjoy The Hobbit (and Tolkien’s other works) as much as I do. Many of my female friends also enjoy the movies and novels, just as much as my male friends.
    This is just an ignorant statement. I’ve been able to relate to characters from The Hobbit and LOTR–that’s why I feel it is such an incredible series. It spans generations, gender, race.

  10. Rina

    I’m female, and I’ve been a Tolkien fan since I was at least 10. I’m only 18 now, but I see no reason why women would not enjoy The Hobbit (and Tolkien’s other works) as much as I do. Many of my female friends also enjoy the movies and novels, just as much as my male friends.
    This is just an ignorant statement. I’ve been able to relate to characters from The Hobbit and LOTR–that’s why I feel it is such an incredible series. It spans generations, gender, race.

  11. JaneEyre

    So what if some women don’t like the book? I’m sure there will be more than enough superficial, Xena inspired female and eye-candy male characters in the movies to satisfy all the panting fan girls. I mean, Arwen, Aragorn and “Leggy” were in the first movies – so what’s to say jackson won’t pull out the same shtick again for the next two.

  12. Think that this is a ridiculous thing for the articles writer to say!!
    There are many Female Tolkien fans out there and I myself have read the hobbit twice!
    Not all women like reading sickly romance novels, I love all of Tolkien’s books.

    Wow, I am annoyed!

  13. Think that this is a ridiculous thing for the articles writer to say!!
    There are many Female Tolkien fans out there and I myself have read the hobbit twice!
    Not all women like reading sickly romance novels, I love all of Tolkien’s books.

    Wow, I am annoyed!

  14. Think that this is a ridiculous thing for the articles writer to say!!
    There are many Female Tolkien fans out there and I myself have read the hobbit twice!
    Not all women like reading sickly romance novels, I love all of Tolkien’s books.

    Wow, I am annoyed!

  15. UndomielElessar

    I’m kinda angry right now… I am female and I love the Hobbit ! and other Tolkien books 🙂 and many other women !

  16. Kriskenya91

    I think that she is probably right in her observation that she has never had anyone in a book club stand up and refuse to read a book unless everyone reads The Hobbit first. After all, that isn’t how book clubs work anyway. However, I think there is a fundimental flaw in her logic. That is the fact that most women’s book clubs are made up of a different readership than the group that reads Tolkien. Admittedly, I can’t abide much of what is read at book clubs so I’m probably not qualified to make observations about them, but I have taught The Hobbit for nearly 12 years now to students in grades 7-12 and it is often a favorite among them. Not universally, of course, I have had many students not care for it as well, but it is not usually along gender lines, but rather along the lines of reading preference.

    My gut reaction to Ms. Bellafante is that she is not the intended audience, but that does not mean it is boy fiction any more than what she reads is girl fiction. Good fiction speaks to readers regardless of gender, which brings up another flaw in her comments. What does she mean by “boy fiction”? Is that implying that what she and her book clubs read is “girl fiction”? Her real implication is that what she reads is good fiction and what others read is somehow inferior. That seems a little arrogant to tell the rest of the world that they are not reading the right books. Especially as going into nearly any bookstore will show you that Fantasy has as large or larger section than any other category.

    I think that it is hard to get a good review of fantasy literature, movies or TV shows because too many reviewers have no taste for it. I’m looking forward to Game of Thrones and The Hobbit and loved The Lord of the Rings.

  17. Kriskenya91

    I think that she is probably right in her observation that she has never had anyone in a book club stand up and refuse to read a book unless everyone reads The Hobbit first. After all, that isn’t how book clubs work anyway. However, I think there is a fundimental flaw in her logic. That is the fact that most women’s book clubs are made up of a different readership than the group that reads Tolkien. Admittedly, I can’t abide much of what is read at book clubs so I’m probably not qualified to make observations about them, but I have taught The Hobbit for nearly 12 years now to students in grades 7-12 and it is often a favorite among them. Not universally, of course, I have had many students not care for it as well, but it is not usually along gender lines, but rather along the lines of reading preference.

    My gut reaction to Ms. Bellafante is that she is not the intended audience, but that does not mean it is boy fiction any more than what she reads is girl fiction. Good fiction speaks to readers regardless of gender, which brings up another flaw in her comments. What does she mean by “boy fiction”? Is that implying that what she and her book clubs read is “girl fiction”? Her real implication is that what she reads is good fiction and what others read is somehow inferior. That seems a little arrogant to tell the rest of the world that they are not reading the right books. Especially as going into nearly any bookstore will show you that Fantasy has as large or larger section than any other category.

    I think that it is hard to get a good review of fantasy literature, movies or TV shows because too many reviewers have no taste for it. I’m looking forward to Game of Thrones and The Hobbit and loved The Lord of the Rings.

  18. Kriskenya91

    I think that she is probably right in her observation that she has never had anyone in a book club stand up and refuse to read a book unless everyone reads The Hobbit first. After all, that isn’t how book clubs work anyway. However, I think there is a fundimental flaw in her logic. That is the fact that most women’s book clubs are made up of a different readership than the group that reads Tolkien. Admittedly, I can’t abide much of what is read at book clubs so I’m probably not qualified to make observations about them, but I have taught The Hobbit for nearly 12 years now to students in grades 7-12 and it is often a favorite among them. Not universally, of course, I have had many students not care for it as well, but it is not usually along gender lines, but rather along the lines of reading preference.

    My gut reaction to Ms. Bellafante is that she is not the intended audience, but that does not mean it is boy fiction any more than what she reads is girl fiction. Good fiction speaks to readers regardless of gender, which brings up another flaw in her comments. What does she mean by “boy fiction”? Is that implying that what she and her book clubs read is “girl fiction”? Her real implication is that what she reads is good fiction and what others read is somehow inferior. That seems a little arrogant to tell the rest of the world that they are not reading the right books. Especially as going into nearly any bookstore will show you that Fantasy has as large or larger section than any other category.

    I think that it is hard to get a good review of fantasy literature, movies or TV shows because too many reviewers have no taste for it. I’m looking forward to Game of Thrones and The Hobbit and loved The Lord of the Rings.

  19. Eliza

    I have just read The Hobbit and it is an amazing book and I loved it and I am female. NY times may think no but I think YES.

  20. Eliza

    I have just read The Hobbit and it is an amazing book and I loved it and I am female. NY times may think no but I think YES.

  21. While I was still lving in my country (Cuba), during my early 20s, a musician and composer friend of mine brought me The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as a gift, after a trip he made to England. I immediately fell in love with both books. During my public interviews and private talks with the publishers (I am a science fiction & fantasy author), I always spoke so passionately about the books that Gente Nueva (the main Cuban publishing house for young adult and children’s literature) finally decided to publish them. At first, they wanted to publish only TLOTR, but I insisted that the saga would be uncompleted without the first one, so they published both works. The preface of the Cuban edition of The Hobbit was written by a female author―myself. Since then, a whole generation of Cuban female readers are among the biggest fans of this book in that small Caribbean island… a country with no tradition whatsoever in reading that kind of literature. So I suspect Ms. Ballafante is judging the female readers from an Anglo-Saxon country perhaps by some personal incident. She should not generalize based on her own limited experience.

  22. Rachelle

    I actually felt slightly offended by this. I’m 18, the Hobbit is one of my favorite books. I study literature. I’m blond. I love pink. I love LOTR and Star Wars. I love wearing princess dresses. I geek out over Back to the Future.

    So, where does that leave me, Miss Bellafante? If I was in a book-club I “would stand up” for the Hobbit any day. Yes, I like Jane Austen, but I also like Tolkien. But obviously, that it’s impossible, isn’t it? It’s almost like she’s implying that, first of all women can’t make their own choices (God forbid) and second of all, that if the women who do and read “boy fiction” must therefore be not quite female.

    Jeez.

  23. Rachelle

    I actually felt slightly offended by this. I’m 18, the Hobbit is one of my favorite books. I study literature. I’m blond. I love pink. I love LOTR and Star Wars. I love wearing princess dresses. I geek out over Back to the Future.

    So, where does that leave me, Miss Bellafante? If I was in a book-club I “would stand up” for the Hobbit any day. Yes, I like Jane Austen, but I also like Tolkien. But obviously, that it’s impossible, isn’t it? It’s almost like she’s implying that, first of all women can’t make their own choices (God forbid) and second of all, that if the women who do and read “boy fiction” must therefore be not quite female.

    Jeez.

  24. This woman clearly lives in a very sad, very narrow world. Pity her.

  25. This woman clearly lives in a very sad, very narrow world. Pity her.

  26. Eugenia

    I cannot call myself a Tolkienite. I read The Hobbit at the age of 17 and I remember perfectly well my having enjoyed it greatly. Now, that a film started being made, some my female mates and myself, all of us being aged over 30, decided to refresh the book in our memory.PS. We are women and we are in book club.

  27. I’m a woman who read “The Hobbit” when I was in 4th grade, along with beginning to read “Lord of the Rings” with the first paperback printing in the U.S., and have joyously read all 4 books many times over the course of my life. I’ve even written tunes to go with some of the poetry in “The Hobbit”. I’m so excited about the new movie coming out that I got teary eyed when I saw the short video about the first day of filming.

    “The Hobbit” and Tolkien introduced me to the realm of fantasy writing and the large base of Anglo Saxon and Nordic writings that influenced Dr. Tolkien’s work. My life would have been much poorer for not having found this book.

  28. I’m a woman who read “The Hobbit” when I was in 4th grade, along with beginning to read “Lord of the Rings” with the first paperback printing in the U.S., and have joyously read all 4 books many times over the course of my life. I’ve even written tunes to go with some of the poetry in “The Hobbit”. I’m so excited about the new movie coming out that I got teary eyed when I saw the short video about the first day of filming.

    “The Hobbit” and Tolkien introduced me to the realm of fantasy writing and the large base of Anglo Saxon and Nordic writings that influenced Dr. Tolkien’s work. My life would have been much poorer for not having found this book.

  29. Larry

    “I would say that Ms. Ballafante is out of touch with the majority of female Tolkien fans.”

    Well, that’s quite possible, but that’s not really her point. She wasn’t referring to “female Tolkien fans,” she was referring to female readers in general. I think it goes without saying that female Tolkien fans like Tolkien.

    I like Lorrie Moore, the female writer that Bellafante referred to in her example, but I have no illusions about the average male reader agreeing with me — he wouldn’t, and Moore’s readership is largely female. Is that a problem? Does that invalidate the enjoyment I get from Moore’s books somehow?

  30. Larry

    “I would say that Ms. Ballafante is out of touch with the majority of female Tolkien fans.”

    Well, that’s quite possible, but that’s not really her point. She wasn’t referring to “female Tolkien fans,” she was referring to female readers in general. I think it goes without saying that female Tolkien fans like Tolkien.

    I like Lorrie Moore, the female writer that Bellafante referred to in her example, but I have no illusions about the average male reader agreeing with me — he wouldn’t, and Moore’s readership is largely female. Is that a problem? Does that invalidate the enjoyment I get from Moore’s books somehow?

  31. Mmvi_74

    This woman is just crazy saying women “don´t like Tolkien just like they don´t like Game of Thrones and its author”.

    I haven´t read Game of Thrones but knowing it´s an “adult stuff”, that´s enought for me to NOT read it.
    I know what “adult” stuff is like.

    There is a HUGE difference between Game of Thrones and Tolkien: NO sex or naked chicks, thats the huge difference.

    I am a woman and I don´t watch HBO shows, not becoz violence or subjects, which I find very interesting sometimes, but because I am sick of raping, banging naked chicks and female nutidy everywhere.
    I find it just sexist to show women as sexual object to please men´s lust all the time.

    That´s the huge difference with Tolkien.
    Tolkien is insulted to be compared with this man who wrote Game of Thrones.
    Tolkien respect women at least.

    So, sorry I am not *that* kind of woman who support nudity everywhere.

  32. Mmvi_74

    This woman is just crazy saying women “don´t like Tolkien just like they don´t like Game of Thrones and its author”.

    I haven´t read Game of Thrones but knowing it´s an “adult stuff”, that´s enought for me to NOT read it.
    I know what “adult” stuff is like.

    There is a HUGE difference between Game of Thrones and Tolkien: NO sex or naked chicks, thats the huge difference.

    I am a woman and I don´t watch HBO shows, not becoz violence or subjects, which I find very interesting sometimes, but because I am sick of raping, banging naked chicks and female nutidy everywhere.
    I find it just sexist to show women as sexual object to please men´s lust all the time.

    That´s the huge difference with Tolkien.
    Tolkien is insulted to be compared with this man who wrote Game of Thrones.
    Tolkien respect women at least.

    So, sorry I am not *that* kind of woman who support nudity everywhere.

  33. My Dad read me The Hobbit when I was five years old, and I loved it so much I asked him to read it to me again. He said no, next time I’d have to read it for myself. Thanks to a deep and abiding love for Tolkien’s world, I was reading fluently by the first grade, and I have read and reread The Hobbit, LOTR, and/or The Silmarillion every year since. (And devoured lots of other books on the way.) I’m now in my 30’s and I can attest that Chicks Dig Tolkien.

  34. My Dad read me The Hobbit when I was five years old, and I loved it so much I asked him to read it to me again. He said no, next time I’d have to read it for myself. Thanks to a deep and abiding love for Tolkien’s world, I was reading fluently by the first grade, and I have read and reread The Hobbit, LOTR, and/or The Silmarillion every year since. (And devoured lots of other books on the way.) I’m now in my 30’s and I can attest that Chicks Dig Tolkien.

  35. Anonymous

    Nice to know that one lone broad thinks she speaks for Womenkind. I suppose that the thousands of women on Tolkien fanpages don’t exist?

  36. Anonymous

    Brava!

  37. Kay

    I was never introduced to that. Maybe it is still hiding within me. I was never taught that exercising my imagination is *wrong*.

  38. Teknosugar

    The book club I belong to, and is all women in eir 20’s and 30’s quite happily chose and read the Hobbit… Seeing as I own no less than 4 copies and it was the first book I bought my daughter (1st born). I think that the review is very wrong. If anyone is the nerd/geek/ Tolkienite in this house it is me, a woman. Just because fantasy is stereotypically something the men enjoy, does not mean that there isn’t a large contingent of us ladies out there who do not enjoy it as well, if not more than our male counterparts… Well it does in my case 😉

  39. Kenobi1985

    Where do people get off making statements like that? It’s insulting to fans and not-prior-to-the-movies fans alike (of either gender) to the nth degree. When will people quit trying to speak for everyone else, especially without first soliciting our opinion on the matter, whether they are reporters or pundits or politicians?

  40. LadyKai DevinAkers

    I love the Hobbit and all things Lord of the Rings…. I’m a 21 year old female. So this article is wrong.

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