Numerous: The Arts, Literature and Film among them. Tolkien and Middle-earth, and all things concerning, of course.
First Lord of the Rings reading experience:
I first encountered "The Hobbit" through the Rankin & Bass cartoon when first aired. I'd seen the books, but at the time was a hardened SF fan, and distained all things fantasy, except for the "scientific fantasies" of Edgar Rice Burroughs. After enjoying the cartoon, however, I decided to give the book a try and loved it.
I went immediately to Lord of the Rings, and was immediately disappointed that I was to leave Bilbo and follow this young upstart named Frodo. But I pushed on until becoming disheartened after the Council of Elrond when "The Ring Goes South." ("Is all this going to be about 'traveling'? When is something going to happen?!") After a while I went back again, and picked up where I left off. Through that year (1978, I believe) I managed to finish The Return of the King. Uninformed as I was at that tender age, I once more found myself disappointed. (No confrontation between Gandalf and Sauron! Come ON!!)
About a year later, I decided to give it all one more try. I still loved "The Hobbit," and relished the re-read as much as I had the first. And this time, knowing what to expect from LOTR itself, I perceived what I had not the first time around. Since then, I have managed to read both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings on a near annual basis.
Favorite Tolkien character:
Sam by far. To my mind he is the true "hero" of the entire epic.