Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
I admit I'm biased, but I loved these two short stories as much now as I did when I was a little kid just discovering Tolkien. I feel as though they represent both his love of the heroic and the mysteriously romantic nature seen in LotR, but also his affectionately scathing take on human nature seen in The Hobbit. With SoWM illustrating the first and FGoH the second. I think these would be a good intro to Tolkien for anyone hesitant to make the larger commitment to his novels.
Paperback version, found at my public library's Friends of the Library sale.