Let me recommend you read The Hobbit and The Silmarillion before sinking your teeth into the LOTR trilogy.Originally Posted by Susie
The Silmarillion is all about the elves and gives a great history/background about them prior to coming to Middle-Earth. It's a tough read with lots of names and places, but worthwhile!
The Hobbit is all about the dwarves, Bilbo, Gollum, and Gandalf. This gives a great history/background about them (especially the dwarves!) The Hobbit is more of a children's book and easier to read. (Will give you a nice "breather" after The Silmarillion and before tackling the LOTR trilogy.)
These two books give great insight and knowledge of these different races separately, then when they come together for a common purpose in the LOTR trilogy, there is a better understanding of the characters involved.
Yes, I am a "Ringnut" and proud of it!