I found an old paperback copy of The Two Towers at a thrift store for 25 cents, when I was 10 years old. I read it over the course of a weekend while camping and was hooked, but rather confused by the story (not knowing the Fellowship of the Ring existed). I returned to the thrift store and found the other two volumes, albeit completely different editions, and bought them without delay. I now have leatherbound editions of every Tolkien book and read them every two years or so.
Favorite Tolkien character:
Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth. I could read a whole book about him. We get to see so little of him and yet he takes over the defense of Minas Tirith with the help of his elite Swan Knights. He seems like a courageous and honorable ruler, one I would be willing to follow into battle!