First Lord of the Rings reading experience:
It began through a pen-pal: she wrote to me about The Hobbit in 1969, when I was 12. I loved it because it reminded me of my beloved Oz books. My parents got me FotR for my 13th birthday. Neither they nor I realized it wasn't a stand-along book. I got to the end and thought "what--?!" TTT was checked out of the junior high library, so I read RotK next. I had no idea who Faramir or Eowyn were, but I loved it anyway, and went back and picked up TTT afterward.
Favorite Tolkien character:
Well, I've always had a huge crush on Aragorn, because of his self-effacing humor in The Prancing Pony, when he says, "And I look foul and feel fair" and laughs. That laugh won me. But there are so many wonderful characters, especially Frodo and Sam and Gandalf and Faramir and.... and after reading the Essay on Fairy Stories, I realized I loved the Professor himself, who is really in all the characters.