I'm not sure how, but I had no idea these books even existed until The Golden Compass came out, and even then I didn't automatically reach for them. (I still haven't seen the movie, although I have been told it's pretty good. It might be, but Nicole Kidman makes me confused and irritable).
I wish I had read them then though - I just finished the trilogy last week and I really enjoyed them. At times the wordiness got a little irritating (especially the adamant tower...although I guess if a tower is adamant, it's adamant), but I really enjoyed it overall. And I am ABSOLUTELY in love with the name Lyra.
(More thoughts, spoilers and Lyra love here)
Next up for me is either The Yiddish Policemans Union or Lady Chatterley's Lover, I haven't quite decided. In the meantime I'm reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - how I managed to go through twenty five years of existence without reading one of his novels will be always be a mystery to me, but I'm rectifying that now!