The Hobbit and LOTR was easy to read, and the subject matter moved along just fine, at least when i was 16. I haven't tried since then.
If one want something to attempt to read that embodies drudgery, something I tried to read after LOTR was Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast. My friend who got me on to LOTR was ebullient about Gormenghast, but I could only barely make it through the first book. I keep promising myself that one of these days I will try to read it all three. Some of the characters are singularly imaginative.
Another from that time period in my youth I could not take was the Sword of Shannara (Terry Brooks) series that started about then. There was something I could not even get through the the first 20 pages before I had to give up. Compared to Tolkien I just had read with joy, and Mervyn Peake's prose I just had failed to finish, Terry Brook's writing could not even compare.
Oh well, it all depends on one's outlook and background, I suppose. At 16 I was only in the US for 2 years, having grown up in Germany, learning some of my English by reading Captain America, Daredevil, and the Black Panther.
Nowadays I enjoy the uneven excellence of Michael Swanwick, and Charles Stross. The epicness of George R.R. Martin's Songs of ice and Fire have been an awesome read as well.
It seems as a geek, LOTR should be on the list as a must read. Sort of like a college degree - shows you can completes something, but not necessary to enjoy life.