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 copy 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. I think it is both integrity and strength that make him the most enduring character in all of Middle-earth. Of course, Bilbo and Frodo stand out among the Hobbits for obvious reason, but aside from them one of the most interesting is certainly Pippin. Going from simple Hobbit to guard of the citadel, and beyond.