Although I sadly don't recall it, I know my father read The Hobbit to me at a very young age, and I must have tried reading it myself around the age of seven or eight.
My first memory of really experiencing The Lord of the Rings was listening to the BBC Radio adaption, first broadcast in 1981. I recall lying on my parents bed, with dad and my elder brother, listening to the twenty six 30 minute episodes on a Sunday afternoon, absolutely absorbed in the world of Middle-earth. Shortly after it finished, in August, I must have tackled reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time, and have read it countless times since.
It might sound too dramatic to state that I cannot imagine life without Tolkien, but honestly I cannot. I am not particularly well read, because I know what I like to read and I stick to it. Such a narrow view of literature does, no doubt, severely restrict possible experiences of other enjoyable books, I am sure. But that is OK by me.
I consider myself a proud Tolkien purist, and a bit of a militant when it comes to interpretations of his works. There is so much volume and depth in Middle-earth, that I think interpretation is just another way for the interpreters to say "I think I know better." Which of course they don't, as the film renditions of LOTR and The Hobbit are prime examples.
That is not to say I don't enjoy the movies. I do, but some of the changes made are unforgivable, and lead to cold sweats and much cursing at the screen when viewed. Peter Jackson screwed with key elements of the characters and the event, which just served to frustrated and annoyed loyal fans of Middle-earth, and the changes added nothing to the story.
I am no Tolkien scholar, that is to say there are no doubt many who I would be embarrassed to pit my knowledge against, but I do enjoy a good Tolkien debate......and Balrogs DO have wings!
Middle-earth related essays
As I said, I am no scholar, but I do delusions of grandeur, and whilst I could not hope to match the depth and detail that someone like Michael Martinez, or others of equal standing, there are a few topics that I like to think I have something to say on, which will hopefully grow as time moves on: