OK, well My first introduction to Tolkien came when I was very young (6-7?) and I saw the cartoon movie at my uncles house. I remember the Balrog most distinctly (that and gollums eyes and Gandalf riding in for the final battle) after this it was a few more years before I did anything else "Tolkien"
Next was buying the Hobbit when I was about 12. At school we could buy books for , like about, 10p or something in the book club. I was never into reading much at the time and chose a book because I had to, and based my choice on the cover (picture of Smaug!) I didn't even read it for another few years and when I finally did I read it a good 2-3 times. I've now read the hobbit about 6 times (I'm now 26)
Inevitably LOTR's followed. I've read this maybe 5 times now, and am finding that each time I do so I find something else I enjoy (which previously I may not have) i.e I hated the poems and most of ROTK and loved the Elves and the battles first time round. Now I've read more (Silmarillion, UT, "Letters", and the lost road) I'm more interested in the history of Numenor, and the poetry has new meaning for me (i.e I can relate it to something)
I tried reading the Sil when I was about 16. I'd heard from my cousin that it was tough (a bit like reading Mallorys "le morte d'arthur....all focus on geneaology, battles and the suchlike and written in very archaic form) and true enough I failed to get past the song of the ainur. I tried again early this year and found it a lot easier than I had remembered. Plus! after the first few chapters the narrative style changed slightly to something less archaic and more managable. The stories, taken as myth are absolutely fantastic and bring to light many of the references made in LOTR's . Soooo glad i finally read it, and kinda glad I found it so late in life as it gave me a new "epiphany" (for wont of a better word...actually more like a childish excitement and revalation of something new)
UT, i'm still reading this for the first time. I like the added detail to existing stories and some new stuff to boot. a little dissapointed though at no new info on the blue wizards (one of my prime reasons for buying the book)
My most current read however is the "Letters of JRRT" which I bought on curiosity and have found to be one of the most insightful, interesting and revealing books i've read. HIs view on women and americans are particularly interesting! as are his relationships with C.S.Lewis, Auden, and others (including a real life chap called Sam Gamgee!!!!)
hmmm, well thats it I guess. Most of my preconceptions had prooved innacurate as it turned out.
Hobbit, just thought it was another runofthemill kids fantasy book = Wrong
LOTR, knew I was gonna get something good = Bingo!
Silmarillion, thought it would be hard and boring = wrong, just to immature first time round i guess.
UT , lost road and letters, really by this time I knew I loved Tolkiens works and style (however changable) and just jumped in without much thought.
ok thats it, hope this is the kinfd of reply you were looking for? :D