Gotta mod this up, as it was the same for me. True story: discovered The Hobbit in 1984 visiting a friend who's family was housesitting an old New England farmhouse. In one of the summer guest rooms I found a 1965 paperback version of The Hobbit, the Ballantine Books edition with the pink border and the simple watercolor of Hobbiton on the front. The thing that got me was the map in the beginning and the occasional art throughout. I was hooked. I had to smuggle it home because anything D&D related was strictly taboo in our uber-christian family, and so it took me a while to get through it. I tried to convince a good friend of mine at the time to read it, so psyched about all the adventures contained within, but he could never get past the first chapter of hibbity hobbit nonsense. Still not sure how I got through it the first time, but man, once you are at Chapter 3 there is no going back.
To address some of the nonsense comments above about a movie adaptation, LOTR could have easily been 6+ two hour movies, albeit 50% boring and rife with backstory flashbacks required just to depict the passages within. I think the Jackson team did a fine job with the trilogy content, and even threw in a bit of the Silmarillion just so it made some canonical sense. The modifications and attention to the very understated female elements of the novels were some of the better changes they made for the movies.
* SPOILER *
That said, there is easily enough content for two feature length movies in the Hobbit. In my many re-reads of the book, I was always looking for more information about the Party's journey from Under the Mountain to Laketown, which seemed far too quick, because it was. There was a bit with song and poem and a shapeshifting lumberjack sort at the edge of Mirkwood. And oh boy, I can't wait to see Mirkwood, the wood elves' kingdom, the hall of the Wood Elf king! Apparently Legolas was from the elves of Mirkwood and there at the time of Bilbo's initial passing but never actually made an appearance in the novel; I am sure team Jackson could make excellent use of this fact if they can get Bloom back for another round. Laketown could be fun, too.
The prose isn't great for the epic battle in the fields outside (below?) Erebor where several of the Party meet their end. But I feel that segment, as with many other passages in The Hobbit, truly deserve a proper depiction, especially for such a marvelous tale told well before its time.