My relationship with Tolkien has been a long one (relative to my age, of course), starting from middle school when the librarian at our school gave me The Hobbit to read one weekend, towards the end of first semetser. It was a Rankin-Bakshi edition, with the Bakshi illustrations, which I thought were rather odd. However, I read it in one sitting, and came back the next Monday asking if there was any more to read. She then gave me the trilogy to check out over a winter break. I read all of them over the break. I remember the covers-- they had screenshots from the movies (Shire for FOTR and Isengard for TTT) and the back was bordered with different characters from the movie. The films hadn't even come out in America at the time. It wasn't until I was in high school when I realized that there were even more books, and I read the Silmarillion and Children of Hurin another year later.
I did like the movies when I first saw them, but I had to see them a few times before I really fell in love with those, as well. I did indeed have to get used to the new Faramir, and while I had mixed feelings on Tom Bombadil, I was very happy when I finally realized that his lines were in the movie, just delivered by Treebeard. I did love the Ents, and the scene with Sam and Frodo on Mount Doom was perfect. Mostly, I had real issues with Helm's Deep (Haldir dies???? Excuse me???), which I also came to accept, and the scene with Aragorn and Haldir will make me cry 9/10 of the time. And also, there is no Haldir Hug in the book!!! I do like Haldir Hugs.
An integral part of my Tolkien experience has been my membership on the wonderful forums of theonering.net (or, TORn). The users there are incredibly warm and friendly, and after lurking for a while in 2007, I finally joined in February of 2008 and was encouraged to participate in the book discussions and movie quizzes! At this point, I realized that I knew far less of Tolkien's works than I thought I did, and I've had a really amazing time on those boards, even if I am not on as much recently as I used to be. I still giggle when I see a post that has a significant number of "glugs" in reply (Why no Eagles? / What about Balrog wings? / Will The Hobbit be in 3d? / This actor/actress was terrible in that role in LOTR because of their age/looks/acting. / Tolkien would be turning over in his grave if he knew that xyz / Here is a funny video parody of a scene.). And as for the movies, I have especially loved learning about the small details and easter eggs and even everyday mistakes that I would not know about otherwise: Figwit, Boromir's magical vanishing arm, Theoden's double-sided chest armor, Aragorn's broken foot (and excellent broken foot acting), etc.
Anyway, so it's been a combination of everything that's sealed it for me. I am a Tolkien fan. I haven't read everything he's written (letters, Leaf by Niggle, most of HOME, to name a few), and I don't even remember everything from what I *have* read. But one day I will! I love his beautifully descriptive writing and what he stands for when he writes (the way I see it): light, hope, and renewal.
At first the beauty of the melodies and of the interwoven words in elventongues, even though he understood them little, held him in a spell, as soon as he began to attend to them. Almost it seemed that the words took shape, and visions of far lands and bright things that he had never yet imagined opened out before him; and the firelit hall became like a golden mist above the seas of foam that sighed upon the margins of the world. Then the enchantment became more and more dreamlike, until he felt that en endless river of swelling gold and silver was flowing over him, too multitudinous for its pattern to be comprehended; it became part of the throbbing air about him, and it drenched and drowned him. Swiftly he sank under its shining weight into a deep realm of sleep.
To The Professor!