Saturday, July 14, 2007

Re: Potter

Ok, I swear I'll have a review up soon! In fact, I've discovered a way to approach Dangerous Liasons, and it's through Balzac. :) I just finished Cousin Bette, and I'm fascinated by the similarities and differences between the two.

In the meantime, I really enjoyed reading this post over at Book Chase. Sam quotes from a WP Book World column that I will shortly be running over to read, and shares his own opinion, regarding the Harry Potter phenomenon. This was very timely to my own reading life, as I explain in a (probably over-long) comment on his post. As I am rather lazy (or, should I say, efficient?), I'm just copying and pasting most of it over here, and then expanding.

I read the first 3 Harry books when I was 12, when I still lived in England and before they had become such a pop hit, and I really enjoyed them. I own the first 4, although by the 4th one I was starting to become less impressed. When I finally got around to reading the 5th one, I hated it. A lot. I only ended up reading the 6th one because I went on a road trip w/ a friend and she wanted to listen to it on cd.

So, with that background, yesterday I found myself thinking that I should pre-order the 7th. Why? Well, because I figured if I didn't read it right away, the ending would be given away. So, in preperation, I grabbed the 1st one off my shelf and reread it.

And I came to a realisation. I'm not 12 anymore. I don't care about how the series ends; in fact, I remember almost nothing from the 5th and 6th books. And that made me feel guilty. Was there something wrong with me? Why wasn't I in love with Harry and Ron and Hermione? Why didn't I care when certain very important characters died?

Now, I'm not dissing all of the people who love the series. I'm certainly not dissing adults who read children's books-to this day, I love Anne of Green Gables, Narnia, and His Dark Materials. I'm not even dissing the books themselves. I'm basically just giving myself permission to not enjoy them. And that sounds heretical, even now when I type it. I mean, I'm not a book snob. :) I enjoy my reading fluff as much as the next person. But I'm finding myself aligned with the snobb-ish book critics on this one.

Well, that's about all I have to say on the topic. I suppose I just wanted to contribute to the discussion Sam's opened up. How do you all stand on the Potter phenomenon? Do you dress up and attend the release parties? Do your kids? Do you refuse to read it because it's 'too popular'? Or do you fall somewhere in the middle? Do any of you feel, like I did, that you *have* to like the books? I mean, these are the books that are making America read again. How could an avid reader not enjoy them? Food for thought.


Bybee said...

I read one through five in quick succession and had a good time doing so, but when six came out later that year, I didn't really feel like there was any great rush to read it. Ditto for seven.

I've been thinking about reading Cousin Bette for years.

Imani said...

Well the NYT did an article recently on how the Harry Potter books aren't really making America read again, in so far as it could extend to other books. They just read Harry Potter then turn the tv back on. ;)

I still enjoy the series but I came at it quite differently. Heard all the fuss about the books and wanted nothing to do with it. I caught the first two films on tv (meh) but wasn't convinced. Then a friend convinced me to try Azakaban and I was converted and have enjoyed every book since. I only drop by the store to do the midnight purchase. I like the excitement of that moment as opposed to all the costume party stuff before.

Unlike most fans I despise the tone/style of the first two -- they read like Enid Blyton. You know that overt "I'm writing for children" tone.

Believe me, there are tons of avid readers who have either never read the books or don't like them. In fact, A.S. Byatt did an op-ed for the NYT about how adult interest in the series was a sign of mental regression and immaturity or something like that. (Daft, eh?) No need to hide in the closet -- you're not a Potterhead any more and you're proud! :D

Poodlerat said...

I enjoy the books, and I will probably rush out to read the 7th before the spoilers start, but I definitely don't think they're the best in children's fantasy, especially for adults.

I have a lot of problems with the way the HP world is written, and there are a lot of things about it that get on my nerves. I also hated OotP, and HBP wasn't good enough to completely revive my enthusiasm. I do enjoy the HP community, though---lots of interesting discussions and essays. But yeah, I would never put the HP books on a must-read or before-you-die list.

meli said...

Hmm, HP has never held much attraction for me. I read the first one, and it was okay. Not gloriously magical and marvelously written like His Dark Materials, more like a boarding school novel. As a student of medieval literature, I meet a lot of people doing Masters and PhDs in medieval literature who are dotty about HP. But I'm not sure if being a medievalist predisposes you to go nuts over HP, or if it's just a general thing that happens to overlap. I might read the rest of them one day, if I am in serious need of some escapism.

J.S. Peyton said...

There's definitely no shame in not liking Harry Potter anymore, Eva. I've never read Harry Potter myself (like Imani, for one, I'm turned off by all the hype and the movies have never impressed me), but that doesn't however mean that I don't respect people's obsession with the books (even if I can't quite understand it). Anyone who thinks you're a snob for not liking Harry Potter is just as silly as anyone who assumes that an adult who likes Harry Potter is mentally infantile.

MyUtopia said...

I just saw the latest movie in the theater it was really good!

Matt said...

I've read the first two books at the urging of my wife and don't feel the need or desire to read anymore. I actually liked the 3rd and 4th movies, more than my wife who is a big fan, I think I liked them because I wasn't too hung up on the fact that they weren't exactly the same as the books.

There is certainly nothing wrong with liking them or disliking them. They just aren't my thing, and I don't see what all the fuss is about, but if you dig it that's fine with me.