Elliot_Kane said:

In LOTR Tolkien's characters are shallow, his plotting straightforward and his villains uninteresting - but every time we have any kind of book poll here in England LoTR wins the 'Best Ever Book' category by a very wide margin because the book speaks to us on levels no other work does.

Yeah, but I must be missing something, because LOTR speaks to me on... uh, precisely no levels whatsoever. When I can't bring myself to care about the characters, as I've said before, I won't care about their stories. Period. For me, characters drive the story. Characters are, essentially, the story. Failing that, there's the plot. If neither characterization nor plot grabs me, all bets are off. I only finished LOTR for the sake of it being the foundation of modern fantasy. (Note the word "modern"; I know that LOTR is hardly the foundation of all fantasy genre or something.)