Every time I read this, the seemingly simple tale of nine companions setting out upon a hopeless journey to the Black Land becomes richer and deeper. I never realised before how detailed Tolkien's descriptions are: he knows every peak and pass of his mountains, every twist and turn of his rivers, every tree in his woods. Even the smallest geographical feature is placed perfectly in context, North, South, East or West. And there is a wonderful sense of atmosphere in these descriptions: the mist on the Withywindle, the unknown darkness of Moria, the mysterious woods of Lorien.
Talking of Lorien: it is also in some places bitterly sad. Admittedly, you only realise this after a few re-readings. But the imminent passing of the Elves gives the book a melancholy tone that makes it far more than just a simple tale of good and evil. Even if evil is defeated, much good will still leave the world.
And it is funny . Again, I think this is something that only comes through in the re-readings. But dialogue between the hobbits is full of such gems as:
"Where's the water?"
"I don't keep water in my pockets."
Is it just me laughing at this stuff?