I have just finished reading The Lord of the Rings. If I remember correctly, this must be my fourth or fifth attempt to read the books. The furthest I have reached seems to be the very first pages of the third book, if my bookmark does not lie. My memory of those pages read many years ago has dimmed to near to nothingness.
I am one of the many people for whom the film saved the books. I had given up on reading them.
I am coming to the conclusion that The Lord of the Rings is not a book most enjoyed when first read. On the first reading, one is swamped with strange names and places, riddles and comments on the unfamiliar lore and history of Middle-earth. (Information overload, anyone?) The story unfolds slowly, too slowly, and one loses track of the complex plot and dozes off to sleep amidst poetic descriptions of beautiful land or fair deeds.
The Lord of the Rings seems written for those already familiar with a marvellously complex world Tolkien created. In any case, some familiarity with the world in question seems required to thoroughly enjoy the epic.
The film did not put me to sleep. They gave me a reasonably clear view of the plot, allowing me to dive into the books and enjoy the tale being told without feeling too lost. I am looking forward to reading the books again. But counting my previous attempts, it really took me hundreds of pages to learn to enjoy Tolkien.