As I re-read The Lord of the Rings, I intend to also read critical essays and other commentary. rushthatspeaks recommended the first of these, the Le Guin essay I discuss below; I also borrowed from the local library Understanding The Lord of the Rings: The Best of Tolkien Criticism, edited by Rose A. Zimbardo and Neil D. Isaacs, which looked to have a good range of material. I have some meta essays at lotrfic_crit bookmarked for later reading as well; other recommendations are welcome. (I do have access to a college library via Chad, though I should note that my background in literary theory is not strong.)
(Oh, and I think I forgot to say this earlier, but there may be spoilers for everything Middle Earth in these posts. If you haven't read the books yet, these posts will not be safe for reading along with. Via kalimac, here's a blog with chapter-by-chapter posts during a first reading; The One Ring.com has a similar list of articles by "A Tolkien Virgin," but the site's down until July.)
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Note: I decided to read this and then go back to Chapter 1, because the pacing of the entire opening is often criticized. Chapter 1 thus follows after dinner (and, possibly, a plea for fashion advice).