The Silmarillion is my favourite of Tolkien’s work. I love the vaulted language, the imagery, the intertwining of everyone’s fate, and the dark magic that encompasses the whole work.
For many fans reading The Silmarillion is more like doing anthropological research than reading a fantasy novel. Its a denser read than The Lord of the Rings and definitely more so than The Hobbit. And the early chapters that read like Deuteronomy can be intimidating. But the stories are amazing, so how do you get into it?
The book is laid out in three parts: the creation and origins of the Elven pantheon, the tangled blood-fued and history of the holy Silmarils (from which the book derives its name), and the history of Elves and Men on Middle-earth and how their combined history leads to the War of the Rings (featured in The Hobbit and LOTR). However, its not actually necessary to read it linearly.
Pick your favourite character that you’ve seen elsewhere and start with their story. Do you like Beren and Luthien? Begin with their tale. Love Shelob and the talking spiders from The Hobbit? Ungoliant is their matriarch. The ents, the White Tree of Gondor, Smaug, Isildur, and even the horses revered by the Rohirrim all have their ancestors in this book.
The Appendices of LOTR is also a good way to adapt to the writing style and detail in The Silmarillion. Read about Arwen and Aragorn. Discover the secret of Dwarf runes, and learn about the writing style and pronunciation of Quenya and Sindarin.
Basically, pick your poison. And once you’re really in to it, you’ll have read The Silmarillion.