I decided to read the Harry Potter Series this summer, for the first time. After 10 billion people were happily served by the boy wizard and his pals, after the series was put to rest by JK Rowling years ago, and just as the film franchise explodes to a close, I decided to read the books.
Some questions immediately pop to mind: Why didn’t I read the books years ago?
1. I’m not a fad kind of guy, so having millions of people read the books actually made me feel less like becoming part of the phenomenon.
2. I actually loved the movies. I did read HP 2 after the first movie came out, and before the second movie. And loved it. But when I watched the film, I was terribly disappointed that a whole mess of story was eliminated as if it didn’t count. I vowed then and there to see the movies first, and then I would read the books to add in parts that the movies had left out. This is actually a decent strategy.
And why now??
Well, the end of the era is around the corner…. by summer 2011, the films will be done. But I think it’s more because I really want to read the books. I want to see how Rowling built the arcs, how she developed series characters, and how she managed to maintain the hook for so long. It’s okay to admire the books on a “how are they written?” sort of way.
I want the magic too. Even though, now, I know at least where the movies have taken me. Now I want to see where the books take me.
I’m not the demographic JK Rowling was aiming for. Her 9-17 age bracket probably resonated with the idea that children can have power too; that magic exists under adult noses; that the world doesn’t have to be like their parents told them it would be–office buildings, stock markets and 2 hour commutes.
So what would a 41 year old, single, gay writer and English teacher living in the Yukon Territory–with no children– get from reading the Harry Potter series–besides how to create a blockbuster series? It’s a good question to think about. How does a book transcend its ideal market, appeal across the board to adults and children alike? What will be the pull of the series for me? (I already loved the movies—but why.)
I’m keeping a Harry Potter Diary as I go to ponder things about the series along the way. Just reactions to, thoughts about, resonances with the series.
There’s a spot at Hogwarts for me–and I’m going to find it.
My strategy for the movies was to read the book, and then wait long enough after having read it to see the movie. When I watched the movies, they were a different story to me. I’d say just read the books all the way. By the time the last movies come out, you will have likely forgotten most of the plot points. I read the last books but they were so convoluted that I can’t really remember what happened.
OK, Jerome, I’m with you on avoiding popular books. A terrible habit, reverse snobbery I think, but won’t admit entirely. Like never wearing Birkenstocks or owning a Volvo (though my friend Faith’s old Volvo with the heated seats was a dream after skiing). No, no, never! Almost. But I too come to popular books after a time, so let me know what you think of Harry Potter, and maybe before my granddaughter is ready for them, I’ll have read the series, too. — Susan