Trumpet of the Swan, Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, White Fang, and then The Jungle Book are the ones I remember fondly that I read so often I knew the entire first chapter word for word. This would be somewhere in grades 1-4. I remember getting frustrated with the grade restrictions on which books I could check out from the school library, but I did manage to read everything about animals (horses, dogs), then everything about the native americans (was a huge Crazy Horse fan) before I left that school. My third grade teacher also read to us A Wrinkle in Time which I absolutely loved but I remember thinking the ending was predictable. That was probably my first fantasy/sci fi book. I later got deeply into sci fi with Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov.
I don't remember when I started reading fantasy. I do remember not liking Lord of the Rings (gasp!) the first time a friend showed me their book when I was in high school. I think it was the tales of Gord the Rogue that sparked my interest in fantasy, starting with Dungeons and Dragons related stories and branching out. I've been unstoppable at devouring fantasy authors' works ever since
Walden Media, the people who made The Chronicles of Narnia movie are working on a live action version of Charlotte's Web. I think it's due in the theaters at the end of the year.
Auna, I didn't like Lord of the Rings either when I first tried to read it in college. I think it was over my head or something. Too slow moving. LOL I feel silly now but I still haven't read the books but I love the movies. Great movies I'll watch several times. His writing was just a little too difficult for me at that time when I was just beginning to discover fantasy. I was reading Raymone E. Feists Riftwar saga at that time too. Loved it. lol
Trumpet of the Swan was actually my favorite of the three. It's cool to see Charlotte's Web being redone, but nobody has done Trumpet yet *cries*.
For LoTR, it was all the names and terminology thrown around that made it hard to get my head around it. I later read the books and enjoyed them for the most part. Of course after seeing the movies, I'm having a hard time getting into reading the books again.
It's interesting to see how we all became involved in the genre...I recall reading stories of Raggedy Ann when i was really young...then at about 13 I read the Hobbit and I was hooked. I read the LOTR before i went into High School and loved it although I also found it disconcerting that there were so many hints at a history that I knew nothing about. To me that just created a sense of mystery. I was very young and didn't know much anyway! I also loved Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea Trilogy and the Left Hand of Darkness!
After that, I read a lot of science fiction. Loved Star Wars, was a huge fan of Star Trek...the next series I read was Thomas Covenant. And Terry Brooks-Sword of Shannara. There are so many since. I was so thrilled that there was actually a literature course in college on science fiction...that's where I was introduced to Heinlien and Dune! Wow. We are so lucky to have such a rich collection of creative authors. I read the COTM in 1996 during Christmas vacation. JW has been on the top of the list since!
Iris, Sword of Shannara was my first thick fantasy book to read and I loved it. I base all of my reading on that book now and try to find series like that one was that I loved so much. I was amazed at how thick that paperback was. lol I'd read thin books before it. I just marveled at the size of it. lol I discovered Raymond E. Feist shortly after. I read COTM when it first came out on the shelves. I was drawn to it like a magnet. lol I loved it and Janny's work since. We are lucky to have such great authors in this field we love.
Actually Shogun was the first huge book I ever read, and I read it in like five evenings.
Another couple of series I found hard to put down are the prehistory novels by Jean M Auel and the 'People books by Kathleen O'Neil Gear & W Michael Gear;
And like some of you I've never wanted to give Tolkien a second reading, though I did enjoy the films.
That's so funny, I'm the opposite ... I didn't read Tolkien until I think my first year of college and the Sword of Shannara in my second or third, and I loved LOTR but could barely get through Shannara. But then, I have always loved mythology and the traditions of the middle ages, and Tolkien is SO steeped in the voice and progression of both that it just struck a good chord with me.
I don't know whether she's been mentioned here or not, but a good author I've recently found is Lynn Flewelling. Her Tamir series are the first books I've read in a long time that actually made me nervous to be alone at night! Good, eerie fantasy, and very interesting issues about gender and identity.
At Janny's recommendation I tried a couple books by R. M. Meluch. Excellent books. They are fast action space SF with wonderful characterizations (both male and female protagonists) and twists in the plot, which is primarily socio-political) that I read the first one The Myriad: Tour of the Merrimack #1 in three days and Wolf Star: Tour of the Merrimack #2 in two days. The author pulls a bold twist near the end of the first book that took me totally by surprise. I highly recommend them.
I also just read Lee & Miller's The Crystal Dragon. A marvelous conclusion to the story started in the The Crystal Soldier. If you've not tried a Lee & Miller book, get thee hence and buy one!