Advise for the First Time Readers of Tolkien
The best advice I can offer someone reading the
LOTR trilogy for the first time basically revolves around a few
1. There are a lot of references to "heading north", or "moving west". You certainly can reference the available maps of Middle-earth while reading, but it can be a distraction that pulls you out of the moment. I would suggest to you that you can essentially ignore the direction references on a first read. I, like many others, have read the book many times over because of the depth of the material.
2. Professor Tolkien was a lover of all things that grow, so unless you are steeped in horticulture, all the plant, tree, and shrub references can slow you down. Basically, on the first reading of the trilogy you can basically not feel it necessary to picture each type of shrub in your minds eye. This will make the reading go faster and easier. The trees of Lothlorien are an exception.
3. Some of the lore you may have seen in the movies, or come across on the internet, has been taken from the appendices of the LOTR trilogy. Leave the appendices for later and read them if you find your interest in Middle-Earth unquenched.
4. It is not necessary to read the "Concerning Hobbits" section, at the opening of LOTR, on your first read. Don't misunderstand me, it is good to read, just not necessary. Get yourself into the tale first, most of the knowledge in this section can be deduced naturally as you read. Once the story has gotten your attention (by the third or fourth chapter usually) you can read "Concerning Hobbits" at your leisure.
This advice is only for the first time reader of The Hobbit;
1. The Hobbit was written as a children's tale. It does not have the depth that Lord of the Rings has, but tells an important tale in Middle-Earth lore none-the-less. There are a few characters that are "fanciful" in the telling of the story....the Stone-Giants of the Misty Mountains come to mind. Do not let this bother you, read the tale anyway as a children's tale...like it is.
2. Goblins are Orcs, though the descriptions stray from the Orc descriptions in LOTR. Tolkien probably wished he could rewrite The Hobbit after the publication of Lord of the Rings to make the The Hobbit fall more comfortably into line with LOTR. Perhaps not.
This advice is only for the first time reader of The Silmarillion;
1. Do not start reading Professor Tolkien's works with this book. It is really for people who have read both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and want to investigate the mythology deeper.
2. The first thing you will notice is that names are thrown at you rapidly in the opening section of The Silmarillion, you really only need to remember a few of them; Melkor (Morgoth) and Eru (Iluvator) will do for your first read.
3. The Silmarillion does not really read like a novel, more like a disjointed set of stories that advances your depth of knowledge of Middle-Earth.
4. You may want to take some notes if it helps, remembering the distinctions between Noldor, Sindar, and a few other concepts could leave you feeling confused after a while. Take notes of the splits regarding the High Elves, and maybe the Children of Hurin and Turin, etc..
There are a few other ideas for this page, but "one thing pushes out another" and I will have to get back to this later.