"The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien, Istari wizards, Shakespeare's plays, Istari wizards, Jane Austen's novels, Istari wizards, making historicial garb and film costumes, Istari wizards, Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee, Istari wizards... are we starting to see a pattern here?
First Lord of the Rings reading experience:
When will all this Hobbit hijinx end?! Then the story picked up after Rivendell.
Then I saw "The Fellowship of the Ring"; then I went back and re-read LOTR:FOTR and it made gads more sense when I had faces and voices to connect to all those hard-to-pronounce names. I read TTT and ROTK before each movie premiered, and wondered where the heck the Scouring of the Shire went (and what happened to Saruman?!) I definitely became a wizard-groupie by the time ROTK/EE was released (Oh, no! Not Saruman!)
Favorite Tolkien character:
(...duh...) Gandalf the Grey (as opposed to Gandalf the White): Gandalf the Grey is much more approachable and generous. He is very like a Father Christmas (or Father Yule in Middle-earth) figure, particularly to the Hobbits, because he brings them gifts they can't make themselves, toys for the children, and news of the outside world, not that most Hobbits (other than Bilbo and Frodo, maybe Sam) pay heed to what he tells them.
I make Father Christmas robes for Gandalf action figures and give them as gifts to family members and friends.