The extended trilogy is my favorite. I read the books in the 80's and was initially a bit disappointed with the theatrical version. The extended version makes up for it, still not complete but better. The movies weren't quite able to bring over the same level of dread and despair I got from the books.
My oldest recently got into Lotr, about at the same age as when I got into the books which my dad had sitting on the shelf. He watched the extended trilogy, now on to the hobbit while also reading the books. (I instantly bought them for him when he asked, didn't have a copy laying around)
I can appreciate that disappointment to some degree. I reread The Lord of the Rings this past year, and was surprised at how the movies and book diverge from each other.
That said, I think there are areas where the movies surpass the book. In my mind, the action scenes in the movies are superior; I was shocked at how few pages were committed to Helm's Deep and the Pelennor Fields in the book. The movies also make Aragorn a more interesting character, I think. In the book, he's more or less perfect: handsome, wise, chivalrous, imbued with almost preternatural abilities due to his lineage. Mortensen's Aragorn feels a little more vulnerable, although still without many flaws. There's a line in the extended version of Fellowship where Boromir says "Have you so little faith in your own people?" I wish they had pulled on that string more throughout the trilogy.