I went away for work at the end of March. Since I was only going for two nights, I thought I’d take my new Kindle instead of a big book. I’ve had a Kindle Fire for a few years now, yet I’ve only ever read two books on it. I love paper too much, but in this instance it was practical enough and a normal Kindle is much lighter than the tablet version.
As it happens, I have all 7 Harry Potter books on there, and thought I might as well start rereading them. The first one lasted me from the moment I got on the train, to the moment I stepped off it back home. Perfect timing. On a roll, I kept going with number two, and I finished the last book yesterday on the commute home.
I’ve been reading a bit at work during homework supervision, and more than one kid asked me what I was reading at the time as they couldn’t see a cover (oh the mysteries hidden behind the plain Kindle case….).
When I replied Harry Potter, I got two reactions. A few kids nodded appreciatively, asked which one was my favourite and admitted to having read them all several times. Some just shook their heads and started tutting.
Now I’ve seen those reactions before (mainly from people who refuse to read the books because it’s childish, or those who say the movies weren’t all that great so why should they read it), but it’s been a while since I’ve met a child/teenager that didn’t like the boy-who-lived.
Many will admit that they read them as kids, but won’t do it again (call me in 10 to 20 years please to confirm), while others, like me, consider the wizard a big part of their (literary) background and say that they enjoy it again and again.
Granted, it’s hard for any author to create work that can be enjoyed by people aged 9 to 99, and that offers such a broad spectrum of emotion and adventure that it can be read and discovered anew every time you open the book. I think J.K. Rowling managed just fine thank you very much.
I personally have several authors whose books I’d reread at the drop of a hat. They’re all fiction, and range from the historical to the chick-lit genre via thriller and science-fiction and fantasy. There’s even a few books from my childhood in there, though most of them are things I read as a teenager.
Harry Potter, however, transcends that separation of novels specifically designed for youths or adults. It’s always been a bit of both, and was none more relevant to those of us who were Harry’s age almost the whole way through. I was 10 when a friend gave me the first novel (in French) as a birthday present. I was 18 when the last book was released. I, like many others, have grown up alongside our beloved characters, and could identify myself with their problems.
Of course I’ve seen all the movies, and somehow now, the images I get in my head when reading are a mixture between imagination and memory. Certain characters I only see in their movie version, others are a strange blend. I find it funny how my brain can’t decide which face to give someone. So it just blurs them all.
You’d think that because I’ve already read them several times (I’d put the earlier ones at 4-5 times, the latest once at least twice) and because I know the films, there wouldn’t be any surprise left when re-reading. Of course I know what happens, and naturally I keep going thinking “this still needs to happen”. But somehow, there’s still something new. Still a little surprise.
And I still cry when characters die (I won’t spoil it for someone who’s lived on Mars this past decade). Some people think it’s silly to cry over books. I don’t. It means I have so much empathy to go round that it engulfs all the fictional characters in my vicinity (you should see me watch TV to understand just how involved in it I get).
I would urge everyone to read Harry Potter if you haven’t done so already, or simply to pick it up again next time you don’t know what to read. I’ve been sucked in for the past month and now that it’s over, I feel somehow at a loss as to what to do next (simple, watch the movies!). I’ve already picked out my next book and incidentally it’s also part of a series, as I feel the need to connect to something else again.
And if you happen to have children, I suggest you give it to them too. Now the last three are quite difficult, so I wouldn’t recommend them for pre-teens, but maybe you can play around with it and give them a book a year. Or wait until they’re 14 or so (they mature a lot earlier than we think they do).
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