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This question already has an answer here:

I have these books written by J.R.R. Tolkien:

  1. The Silmarillion
  2. The Hobbit
  3. All three LOTRs

Which reading order is the best to get the complete story? The one I wrote up above, or?

marked as duplicate by Micah, TGnat, John O, Major Stackings, HorusKol May 5 '13 at 23:05

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  1. The Hobbit
  2. LOTR
  3. The Simarillion

Chronologically, the events in the Simarillion occur before the Lord of the Rings but the writing style will put you off Tolkien and it only touches on the events of LOTR, focusing instead on the lore and history of Middle earth.

The Hobbit is an excellent place to start however you could jump straight into LOTR as it explains how the ring came into Frodo's possession.

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    Not to mention that the last 20 pages or so of The Silmarillion ("Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age") summarizes all of the other books, ruining a lot of their suspense. – Plutor May 5 '13 at 16:25