I was 13 years old, and came home from school after possibly getting in trouble. So it was boredom that got me to pick up my dad's well worn and nicotine stained copies of The Lord of the Rings, but I have never really put them down except long enough to switch to my own less worn copies. The first reading of The Hobbit unfortunately came many years later, and now they all sit on the table at the end of my bed... and will until the end of my days.
Favorite Tolkien character:
Gandalf. It is both his strength and wisdom that makes him the most enduring character in all of Middle-earth as far as I am concerned. I also have a fondness for Pippin who goes from simple Hobbit to Guard of the Citadel and beyond.