Andrew Kines and I are in some advertorial content in The Toronto Star today, talking about how much we loved The Lord of the Rings as boys and how it influenced our lives: My Dinner with Frodo. (Actually, it was lunch: we got together for lunch a few weeks ago and talked for three hours. Andrew boiled it down.)
I first read The Hobbit and then LOTR when I was about eleven. I loved it. I was distraught when it was over and I had to leave Middle Earth. I think I reread it immediately. I read it five or six more times, but I was never a huge LOTR geek. I never read The Silmarillion or any of the other stuff. I did read a fair bit of post-Tolkien Extruded Fantasy Product, like the Belgariad and the Malloreon by David Eddings (which are awful), The Sword of Shannara, and a lot of other similar bilge. Eventually I gave up on fantasy.
I'll never forget how Tolkien captured me as a boy, though. The Lord of the Rings was a major influence on me in lots of ways. I'll never read it again — I tried fifteen years ago and I could no longer stand the language and style — but it was one of the books that turned me into a grown-up reader and, in part and often indirectly, set the course of my life.
(The picture is by Michael Watier. That's me on the left and Andrew Kines on the right.)