To be honest, it was the hype of the movies that made me go read the books. Experience says that books are always 100 time better than the movies. So I read through the entire Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit before I went to the movies.
To be quite frank, I will have to side with the great Tolkien on who's better. But I'm biased because I've read all his back stories like the Silmarillion. But you can just never equal the superiority that was THE book, THE orginal that was the books. Tolkien penned all of it himself! So yeah...
Plus, it was only in there that you get most of the brilliance that was his word order, descriptions and eloquence. But I took a class in university that had to point that out to me.
As for the movies, I love them. Peter Jackson did an amazing job. WETA is my new God (their special effects are just o.O Why can't they do Harry Potter???) I however was not pleased with quite a number of changes he made in the canon. Such as that Last Last Alliance of Elves and Men and having Haldir die all prettily in Aragorn's arms (he lives. Thank you) Faramir's OOC-ness, and Sam getting sent away. But I understand why it was done for consistency's sake. However, I still don't like it :/
I did love their interpretation on Gollum (I loved Andy Serkis) and how gorgeous (cough) their men were, like Viggo Mortensen, Karl Urban, David Wenham, Sean Bean, Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom.
And well... WETA is my God. Man were those landscapes and creatures amazing!
I still will never forgive PJ for two things. One was the revealing of Gandalf's return in his teaser trailer. The second, for inflicting the LOTR fanfiction world with all those OMG!Legolasfangrrls writing Legomances! But that's really the fault of the fangirls now isn't it