Merry wrote: It is sometimes a pleasure not to read to find out what happens, but for the joy of the small detail.
That's so true, Merry, and it's the "small detail" of the trilogy which drew me into LOTR in the first place, quite as much as the epic story. I also empathise with your comments about memory problems!
The films didn't spoil my enjoyment of the books as much as I thought they might, Serinde. When they came out I hadn't touched the books for several years and I deliberately didn't reread the trilogy until I'd seen all three. Which took a considerable effort of will, mind you! and from time to time I did dip into the books to check details included in the films. In fact I was staggered to realise how much of them was included in the films - whole chunks of dialogue which I thought PJ must have invented were there on the printed page!
I had vivid ideas about the characters when I first read the books (I've even posted a painting of a couple of them on the MEJ Tolkien-inspired art thread!) and even though the casting of the films was excellent, my original ideas stayed with me. So I've had no problems re-reading and enjoying the trilogy (although I confess I've always found the Frodo-Sam-into-Mordor strand less gripping than the goings-on of the other Fellowship members. Which is strange considering they carry the Ring and the fate of everyone else in their hands!)
The Sil is a totally different matter. I got really confused with all the similar names practically from the start.
But then, I'm not sure it was ever intended to be published, was it? if I'm wrong, I'm sure someone will correct me! I should say, however, that it was worth the struggle and one day I'm going to get around to doing a watercolour or two of the Valar. Hopefully.
What I have hugely enjoyed reading, post-films, is the book of Tolkien's letters, which give such insight into the great man himself, and John Garth's book "Tolkien and the Great War". In fact I just checked my wish-list at Amazon and it looks as though I shall be reading my next batch of Tolkien-related literature between Christmas and New Year
Apologies for rambling off topic. Isn't the menopause wonderful?