I was 13 going on 14 years old, and after being sent home from school one day I was sent to my room. So it was boredom that first made me pick up my dad's well worn, nicotine stained copies of The Lord of the Rings... but I have never really put it down. The first reading of The Hobbit unfortunately came much later.
Favorite Tolkien character:
Gandalf. It is both integrity and strength that makes him the most enduring character in all of Middle-earth. I know Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam stand out among the Hobbits for obvious reasons... but to me the most interesting is without a doubt Pippin. Going from simple Hobbit to Guard of the Citadel, and beyond.