I always encourage people to read the books before a movie comes out because liberties are taken in film and it takes away from the books magic. The Hobbit is no exception. I was about 7 when I first read the Hobbit and I remember being lost in Tolkiens world of Elves, Dwarves, and Wizards. I re-read the book as an adult and the magic was still there! The Hobbit is one of those timeless reads that never seems to leave you.
I am also a huge fan of the movies, but reading the book is such a different experience that it changes your perception of the movie. I encourage any tolkien fan to READ THE BOOKS!