Yes, in seventh grade I was exposing my mind to some concepts that have probably warped me forever...(my favorite novel in seventh grade was easily 1984 if that tells you anything about my weirdness. I read all the dytopias (1984, Brave New World, We), but I didn't understand the last book until I got some higher math in me and BNW just scared me silly.)
Anyway, somehow in my formative years of literature, I never got exposed to Tolkien. I got Lewis (my copy of Dawn Treader has a youthful scrawl about the book being read when the US started bombing Iraq in the Gulf War...) and my forays into science fiction went through David Brin's Earth (fascinating book which I need to reread again sometime), the Tripods Trilogy, by John Christopher, and then, the Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov. I owe my introduction to Heinlein to my HS English teacher, who considered Stranger in a Strange Land to be the only science fiction book worthy to be mentioned on the AP exam, and thus the only one worthy of being reported on in oral book reviews, and I was bitterly disappointed when Ben got to report on it. (I ended up with Gulliver's Travels, which is a book I don't regret reading, though.)
But I've never managed to get into Tolkien. Never. And now that I actually have a copy of the book in hand, I'm pondering reading it, but I'm nervous. I know, nominally, that The Hobbit is a prequel to LotR, but is it necesary to read that before you start Fellowship of the Ring?
Aw well, while I'm trying to figure out it, I'll start reading the book Patrick shipped me. I showed it to my sister and asked her to tell me where it was bought, and it took her a little while before she noticed "CANADIAN NATIONAL BEST SELLER" across the top of the back cover. %)
Anyway, my reading list for vacation has much Tolkien on it, as well as Vinge, a couple books under the tree for me, and a couple books I ordered from Thinkgeek. With physical therapy and college applications, that's going to get intersting quick.
But I should listen to Patrick and go to bed now, so...there's my unholy rambles for the night.