Like with a lot of literature, I get something different out of it when reading at different stages of my life. Perhaps more than any other set of books, my impression of the LOTR has changed over the years.
As a teenager, when it seems like everybody was telling me to read the Lord of the Rings, I just couldn’t get into them. Seemed boring.
But as a 30-year old with some life experience, and also in perhaps the right frame of mind, the books clicked and seemed to move swiftly, and were very interesting. I really enjoyed all 3 books. (NB this read-through, my first, occurred a full year or two before the 2001-2003 movie series came out.)
Looking at the books again, nearly 20 years after I’ve become accustomed to the movies, I am struck by how much is left to the imagination, and how much singing and poetry there is. An awful lot. But then, this creates an entire atmosphere that the movies often miss in their pursuit of cinematic action. There’s a really important scene with a “Pukel man” (IIRC), after announcing their intent to work with the good guys’ army enroute to Minas Tirith, where this wild man suddenly notices “The wind is changing!” which is kind of a big deal.
But as for my disappointment: I tried, and failed, to read the Game of Thrones books.
I bought the first and borrowed some others. They were really popular about 10 years ago. My mom even knows the author personally (in Santa Fe). But…I just couldn’t. I found it really annoying that all the characters were either awful or extremely put-upon, or both. I couldn’t identify with anyone. I realized that without doing this, without having a “sympathetic” anchor in the world of the book, I just couldn’t read it. Too painful.