My return to Hogwarts

Hello, friends. Apparently that week of HLSDITL posts took the wind right out of my sails. While I had no problem coming up with ideas of what to write that week, I suddenly found I had nothing to say the next week. Or, even if I did have something to say, I had no time in which to say it.

While school and my job have been sucking up a fair amount of time, I’m happy to say my free time was filled out by something fun. In early October, I realized I wanted to reread the Harry Potter series. So, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve got a few chapters left of Half-Blood Prince and all of The Deathly Hallows and then I will be finished with my little project. And it was so worth re-reading, let me tell you! But, instead of giving a play-by-play review of the books, I thought it would be fun to reveal my history with the books instead.

Unlike every other person my age, I didn’t exactly grow up with the Harry Potter books. Let’s just say that I thought Harry Potter was for kids who were not advanced enough to read real books. Yes, I know the first book published in 1997. Yes, I know I was 11 when it published. Yes, I also know this means that I should have been obsessed with a book that was about someone my own age who could do incredible things. But, no. I was too mature for such nonsense. I am embarrassed to reveal that this was my reading philosophy at age 11: Leave the juvenile books to the juveniles. Give me Stephen King and Joseph Conrad any day.

Sorry for my absence. I've been re-reading Harry Potter.

Sorry for my absence. I’ve been re-reading Harry Potter.

 Yeah, I was kind of a jerk. It wasn’t until the first movie was released on VHS (I did not have the money to buy DVDs back then) did I realize there might be something to all this nonsense. If you are still interested in the math, this means that it wasn’t until 2002 (when the VHS was released) that I finally bothered to even watch the dang thing. By then I was 16, and even though I enjoyed the movie I still didn’t think the books were worth reading. Fast forward to freshman year in college, after my favorite Harry Potter film was released, and I still hadn’t bothered to pick up a book. But, I enjoyed The Prisoner of Azkaban so much that I finally decided to read the books. So I read the first book in 2004. And then I picked up the second book. And I spent the next few months trying to battle my way past the second chapter. I swear, The Chamber of Secrets was just so terrible to me that I kept putting it off. I’d put it down, read something else, pick it back up a month later and stall again on the very same chapter! It was just…boring. But when I returned to college in fall of 2005, still having not made it through the second book, my group of friends couldn’t stop themselves from talking about how so-and-so died and how they couldn’t believe who killed him at the end of The Half-Blood Prince. One particularly obnoxious friend actually used the characters’ real names, spoilers be damned. I was livid. So I skipped The Chamber of Secrets and sped through the next few books so I could read The Deathly Hallows when it was released. I was hoping to skip being the victim of my spoiler-prone friend again.

Because I had already seen a few of the movies and because I was speeding through the books, I only just barely registered the basics of the plot the first time around. And since it was easier to just re-watch the movies, I never actually got around to re-reading the books at my leisure (or reading Chamber of Secrets at all, actually).

But, I still have a fond place in my heart for Harry Potter. I went with others to go to the early showing of the movies as they were released. I took those online quizzes to see which house I was sorted into (generally a tie between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff). But I still felt like I was missing out on something by not really paying much attention to the books.

So, when another blogger announced plans to do a Harry Potter re-read, I decided it was time I got around to it. This time I did manage to read Chamber, and it wasn’t my least favorite! In fact, the most difficult one to get through this time was Prisoner, which was strangely one of the best movies, in my opinion. Having re-read most of them has led me to believe that every pre-teen should read this books. I think they can really help kids become better adults. Plus, Rowling really knows how to pull a reader in and dribble hints and red herrings all through her books. This was something I hadn’t actually noticed during my first read-through. And, as a librarian, I feel more confident in making that recommendation then when I hadn’t really bothered to read the books fully. Speaking of librarians, here’s a fun passage I came across in The Half-Blood Prince:

‘”The library is now closed,” she said. “Mind you return anything you have borrowed to the correct – what have you been doing to that book, you depraved boy?
“It isn’t the library’s, it’s mine!” said Harry hastily, snatching his copy of
Advanced Potion-Making off the table as she lunged at it with a clawlike hand.
“Despoiled!” she hissed. “Desecrated! Befouled!”
“It’s just a book that’s been written on!” said Harry, tugging it out of her grip.
She looked as though she might have a seizure..’

I burst out laughing at this depiction of a crazy librarian.

Anyway, my new reading philosophy is that every book has merit as long as it entertains me and moves me. This philosophy has helped introduce me to some great books, many of which I’ve reviewed here.

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3 thoughts on “My return to Hogwarts

  1. Pingback: Reading habits | Beta Librarian

  2. Pingback: Honoring one of the great guides to our imagination | Beta Librarian

  3. Pingback: Fictional libraries and bookstores I want to visist | Beta Librarian

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