I've already read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which I assume would be the best start in any case. I also got about halfway through The Silmarillion several years ago and am quite familiar with the legendarium as a whole, but for the sake of argument let's assume I'm starting from scratch.
What is the best order for a budding scholar of Middle-earth to read Tolkien's books? Or does it even matter once you've covered the core novels? Chronological order clearly isn't the most logical approach here, and even publication date isn't necessarily best.
- The Hobbit
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Silmarillion
- The Children of Hurin
- The History of Middle-earth
- Unfinished Tales
- The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
- Anything else
Note: After asking this question I found this excellent reference on Reddit. It covers even more material and in more detail than my original question or any answers here.