I didn't read it.
I wasn't much of a reader at that point, but occasionally the teacher would read aloud to us in class. Typically on Fridays, on when he didn't have a lesson plan. Not only did I love hearing someone read to me, so that I didn't have to read myself I enjoyed the story. But not so much that I would read it myself. That is, until the final exam; I struggled through the final exam because I didn't know the answers to the question being asked, but in this case, I found that I wished that I did. So I ended up reading The Hobbit that summer. it may or may not have been the copy I was supposed to return
My Uncle Steve saw me reading it, or heard that I was, and told me about The Lord of the Rings, and then lent me the three volume paperback set that he had. And I read those too. It I had to guess, I would say that I probably looked at the front matter and back matter in the book, but I probably didn't read it. I did read it the next time I read the books, and that was probably when I was in college or just after.
The second time through, I also read The Silmarillion, but I don't recall if I read it before or after. I think it was after The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
I gave them a go again, starting with The Hobbit, reading them to me kids. I don't think we made it all the way through, but I don't remember.
So that 10-15 years ago, or so, and I haven't read them again since, mainly due to the movies coming out. I figured the story would get all muddled with the inconsistencies from the movies. Given how hard Tolkien worked, even after the books were published, to correct minor problems and get the storyline just right, its surprising how different Peter Jackson and company decided to make the movies. I did read the hobbit and the silmarillion in the last couple of years tho
This time through, I've done it differently. I began with The Silmarillion, and then went directly to the Appendices and Index at the back of The Return of the King and read those. This then is a review of the Appendices and the Index, and how it relates to The Silmarillion.
In fact, I'm going to recommend to you that this is the way to read the middle-earth stories:
- The Silmarillion
- Appendices, at the back of the The Return of the King
- The Hobbit
- The Lord of the Rings.
- Unfinished Tales, Volumes 1 and 2, etc., thereafter.
This recommendation is for experienced readers of the Middle-earth stories only.
There are 6 Appendices: A includes the history of the kings and rulers of the various countries and regions of Middle-Earth, mainly in the third age, B is a chronology which is handy because of the way the story is told, somewhat disjointedly, it clarifies what happened when, C includes hobbbit family trees, D is about calendars, and how they relate, E is about the writing, spelling and pronunciation, and F is about the languages used by the various races in the third age.
Yes, both appendixes and appendices is correct. The latter is used in the LOTR. The latter is also more typical when referring to books or documents.