This is the story of Bilbo Baggins, a well-off, quiet little halfling (a Hobbit) who'd never wanted any adventures in his life, and of how he became the reluctant participant in a perilous treasure hunt.
It all began one afternoon, when Gandalf the wizard came knocking at the round door of his cosy Hobbit Hole. The next morning, thirteen dwarves were crowding his living-room and enrolling him to steal the gold guarded under the lonely Mountain by Smaug, the last of the great dragons.
So off he went, through forests old and mountains cold, deceiving trolls, solving riddles in the dark, escaping from goblins and elves, and most of the time rescuing the dwarves from the many perils he himself inadvertenly put them in, thanks to a magical ring he found in Gollum's cave, a ring that has to power to render him invisible.
This was the second time I read The Hobbit, and looking at it now with the critical eye of the (amateur) reviewer, I'm afraid to admit I was somewhat annoyed at the beginning by Tolkien's paternalistic tone, by how he sometimes addresses the reader and makes references to the real world, or hints at what's coming up later in the story. This makes the book seem clearly targeted to a young audience, and indeed, The Hobbit would be perfect for reading aloud to a child. However, this tone changes in the course of the story, and especially during the final Battle of the Five Armies, where it reaches a more epic scope, more suitable for young adults. Mark you, I'm not saying I didn't like it, but was just slightliy disappointed not to enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Oh, the heresy!