Saturday, July 21, 2007

What's the Big Deal about Harry Potter?

Dr. Sanity says that Harry Potter is more important than blogging. Not to me. Okay, for you Harry Potter fans out there, don't kill me but I really don't care that the new book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out today. I know people have been standing in line all night and I know there are bloggers out there who love the series, but don't include me in their number. As Ann Althouse said on her vlog yesterday, "these are children's books and I am an adult." Okay, there are some kids' books I do enjoy but Harry Potter is not one of them. I struggled through the first book and found it tedious and dull except for the part about Harry living in a closet in his aunt and uncle's house and his subsequent descriptions of his atrocious cousin. The rest is sort of murky and uninteresting to me. Perhaps I am missing something. Enlighten me if you have read the series and think I have missed the boat in some way.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll second that. You haven't missed a thing. Murky and uninteresting? You bet. That's probably because the theme is poorly defined.

The rapt fascination with Harry Potter, which at times seems to border on either hysteria or obsession, eludes me. C'est la vie.

9:17 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I personally don't get the waiting in line. While I don't care for the writing style of Rowlings, I have enjoyed each movie. Not enough to fight first showing lines, but enough to see them.

It's just escapist fantasy. And? Some people like Rowlings' flavor, others like other flavors. Would you be bewildered by the fact that some people go apeshit over certain candies?

Hmm. "These are children's books and I am an adult." Somone is gonna have to explain to me how that's any kind of reason for not reading something. It seems to project a certain stiffness to me, a certain placement of corn cobs.

Literally hundreds of "children's" books can be listed that are enjoyed by adults, so that's a fairly shallow line of reasoning.

9:27 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A copy of the first book sits on my bookshelf where it will remain, unread. Insipid stuff.

10:11 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

The Harry Potter appeal is beyond me, too. I tried to read the first book but found it too boring. I'm not into fantasy much. This past year I did enjoy reading "The Root Cellar" at my daughter's urging after she read it for school.

My kids seem to have lost interest in Harry Potter also. None of them have mentioned anything about this latest book, movies, etc.

10:13 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about your hubby? Is he a Potter fan? I know most Sci Fi nuts talk down Fantasy, but we all know they have a secret stash of David Eddings in the basement.

10:22 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger David H Dennis said...

A lot of the waiting in line is thanks to the opportunity to be social. For instance, a lot of people waited for the Apple iPhone not so much to get one, but to enjoy the experience of being with people who were fellow fans and who felt like you do. it gives you something in common and breaks down social barriers that are normally quite high in today's society.

I didn't wait in line for the iPhone or for Harry but if my situation had been slightly different, I probably would have.

To me, the big appeal of Harry Potter is that the stories are loaded with a charming sense of fun and humour. This is something that seems largely lost in our rather bleak cultural landscape.

Reading Harry lets us step into an entertaining world that the author obviously worked very hard to create, and that counts for a lot nowadays.

I have to admit that I would have preferred the books to stay light and frothy, but there's still enough entertainment in there to keep me hooked.

Hope that helps.


10:22 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Billy Hollis said...

De gustibus non est disputandum.

I could never get through The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tedious, uninteresting characters, deux ex machina devices at every turn.

But I like Harry Potter. Not so much that I sweated last night waiting for my copy, but I'll read it before this coming week is out. Complex and varied characters, logic puzzles as plot devices, a libertarian attitude towards government and its officials - plenty of good stuff to keep me interested. Granted that Rowlings's prose style is not the best we've ever seen, but it's good enough that it doesn't detract from the story.

But if you didn't like the first book, by all means drop the whole Potter thing. If you found the first one tedious, I can pretty much guarantee the rest would be even worse, because they become longer and a bit drearier as the series goes on.

10:22 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Dwight said...

Heh. Careful... Harold Bloom stirred up a lot of trouble for himself a while back for saying similar things.

I've never read it and don't really care to unless my kids show an interest when they get older.

But I'm curious as to other's thoughts on the idea that "at least they are reading something." If it's tripe, then I don't think it's a good argument. And while a book doesn't have to be great as a requirement to be read, I would be concerned if the Potter series were the only things a kid read. If the series does open them up to reading other things, then great.

10:23 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading Harry Potter since the second book came out, thank you, and it just clicked why I don't share the 'they're kids books' sentiment. I read them through they eyes of my inner kid.

Also I have been part of an internet-based discussion group of adult readers formed just as the third book came out, and as anyone who ever belonged to such a group knows, themes and sub-plots I might miss reading alone are spotted by some member of the group making it a much richer experience.


10:40 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger TucsonTarheel said...

I've been watching CNN and am shocked at how many adults were out there standing in line waiting to get a copy. Many of them in costume!

I think it's great that there's something out there that kids want to read and I'm glad to see the recent explosion in adolescent fiction. (After all, "A Separate Peace" is really starting to get stale.) However, HP is not great literature and it's sad to see how many adults in this country think it is!

10:43 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

I don’t get it either, but my daughter would say “Blasphemy!”

I generally don’t like fiction, unless it is historically based. “All the Kings Men” is one of my favorite books; I’ve read it cover to cover a hundred times. I have to feel like I am learning something from a book or lose interest within a few pages.

I do have to hand it to the books publisher and marketers; and I’d love to have been a fly on the wall at their strategy meetings. To get every child in the world and their parents and grandparents to stand in line to hand you money for a stupid story is no small accomplishment. I’d rather read a study of why Harry Potter is so attractive to so many than read any of the actual books.

10:47 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't read the book. I have no problems with this type of fiction, I just don't find anything special about Harry.

I kind of enjoyed the beginning of the first movie, where he lived with his relatives, and that was the end of my H.P. experience. I tried to watch some of the other movies on TV, but after 10-15 minutes they lost me.

I wanted to at least watch so that I might know what the madness is all about. I did my best but I still don't have an answer... I am extremely surprised that Dr. Sanity is such a fan. I am not even an armchair shrink, but H.P. must fulfill some very specific, but unknown, desire/need/emotion/etc. I see no other explanation.

10:48 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My kids attended a party at a local bookstore last evening and got their book at midnight. My part was to sacrifice sleep to pick them up. Point is, they love it while I could care not less.

10:52 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger ErikZ said...

That's because the first book WAS murky and uninteresting to adults. I too read the first book, and then tossed it aside with a "meh."

Then the 4th book won a Hugo award.

The Hugo award is a vote from sci-fi and fantasy fans, so I figured I'd go read it. The previous Hugo award winners have never let me down.

Ignore what people have said about "You must read all the books to truly understand!" And don't despair when the first 80% of the 4th book is also murky and uninteresting.

The last 20% is written for adults. It gets very interesting very quickly.

And in case I haven't been clear, books 1-3 were boring, in the way a bad mystery was boring. You're not being given all the pieces to complete the puzzle, and you know it.

10:54 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I got the first book for Christmas when I was 12. Until that point I had never read a novel straight through in one sitting. Now I spend on books what my friends spend on booze; no small feat for a college student. I didn't dress up in costume or go out at midnight, but I had too much interest in the characters and unresolved plots not to read the last book in the series.

The series has plot holes, cliche, and Deus Ex Machina, but the imaginary world is as broad as and wonderful as Tolkien's. And there's something to be said for a book that can turn a boy that would have sooner picked up dog crap than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into a young man that buys his books before his beer.

11:00 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Danny said...

Hey- iwent and stood in line from 4am today morning at the Mall, waitingfor the Apple Store to open. Entered a drawing for a MacBookPro laptop, an IPhone and won a 30GB iPod,and a couple of T-shirts. It was well worth the few hours of sleep I lost.
hanging out with fellow Apple geeks was a good experience.So I can understand Harry Potter fans waiting in line,camping out outside bookstores.

On th e otehr hand, I am a wanna-be writer who wants to attend the Iowa Writers Workshop soon. At the urging of a rather famous American author of literary fiction, ( who is a professor atmy alma mater), I have started dreading the firstHarry potetr book. It is an Ok book, as long as you keep in mind thatthe primary audience of this series is the 16 and under set. Oh, it helps to have a kid-like, imagination to get into the book and really enjoy it. A l ot of adults, unfortunately, seem to loose this kid-like quality of imagination and wonder as we grow up. Kinda sad, really.

11:01 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David H Dennis: I went to the local B&N the night the fifth book came out just to enjoy the kids' excitement. The store had inventive games and contests to pass the time and plenty of strangers striking up conversations with each other.

I did the same thing a few weeks ago when the iPhone came out,bought one, too.

Chrees: one kid's tripe, you know...
With so many channels on TV and endless video games competing for kids' time and attention, getting them to read outside of school work and for pleasure is worth encouraging. And if a kid re-reads some or all of the earlier books in anticipation of the seventh one, he'll be surprised to discover he's reading different books than he remembers because he's a different kid than he was one, two or four years ago. That's not something a TV show or video games does.


11:13 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having lived in Britain for a several years, I see the the Harry Potter series not only as a clever adventure story of good vs evil, but also a clever critique of British culture and social mannerisms.

Where "quiet respiration is the English way," young Mr. Potter is very much the incarnate British derogative of "Cowboy." The Americans see the Cowboy as strong, independent, and self-reliant -- the British see the Cowboy as a rebellious loner, disrespectful of tradition and their place in society. Potter is both.

Harry pushes the envelope by being unique (not by choice) and willing to build on that. He is both a team player willing to rely on and involve his friends as well as someone equally willing to go it alone where he sees what must be done. Thus he was praised by the Wizard school headmaster as one with "a healthy disregard for the rules." An anathema to a society built on subordination to the authority of those who see themselves as better than the rest!

And that upper crust? Rowling's authority structures are intrusive, meddlesome, and flawed by their own self-serving blindness and clumsy actions when they do respond -- thus the need for independent operators like Harry and his supporters.

Ann Rand would be proud.

11:14 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Stephen said...

I Until recently was a doubter of the Harry Potter books and then on the recommendation of some of my college classmates i tried reading them, although with the view that it was for kids. I quickly found out this is not really true. Although it is based on kids and speaks to kids it is also true that there are many themes that are very adult in nature, this particularly true in the case of the later books in which the issues that arise touch on everything from the proper way for government to act to the meaning of evil to what makes a person moral or evil and everything in between. I think the attraction of the books to people my age is that although it discusses them a little more obliquely, the issues that they do touch are the same as those in classic literature, they are just in a form that is more interesting and easily accessible for people of my demographic.

I think the big reason that some people dislike them is because they have a hard time moving completely into the universe of the books. they are so grounded in reality that they find it impossible to leave it even for a little while. this ability to use my imagination and enter a world that is different yet confronts the same issues as ours was what hooked me. It was a wonderful pleasure to be able to be a kid again and let my mind get lost in a magical world where literally anything was possible and yet still have heros, flawed but because of this even more real. in many ways i enjoyed it for the same reasons i enjoyed the chronicles of Narnia. The ability to lose myself in a world were people struggle to choose good and fight for these ideals was a gift.

My last point has to do with the role the books play in real life. more then anything these books do 3 things, first they make the point that while fighting evil is a long, hard and deadly struggle it still must be done. second, the play up the role of decisions good or bad determining the fate of a person rather then natural talents and lastly they encourage the use of imagination. For kids the first 2 are most important, but for adults, i think the third is, many of us have lost our ability to use our imaginations. this is bad because the worlds problems are going to need imagination to solve.

P.S. yes i did wait in line and i was up all night reading the book.

11:16 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Stephen said...

I associate myself fully with Joel's comments, they even could have been written by me.

11:19 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the book and am looking forward to reading #7. I think it's a good story. I don't think there's a secret key -- you either like it or not, no big deal.

It's not perfect: last book I was annoyed that the kids kept trying to use the "stun" spell when the enemies kept using the "kill" spell. I mean come on, quit being Euro-PC, you gotta kill em, quit screwing around.

But I read very few contemporary novels. Every time anyone's eagerly pushed a book on me I found it to be total boring crap, and I'm not shy about throwing a book into the trash can after 30 pages.

My favorite novel is Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum", yet the few people I've known who've tried to read it found it utterly impenetrable. I've sucked it down like water 5 or 6 times. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

11:30 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The rest is sort of murky and uninteresting to me."

Ah yes. Well clearly Dr. Helen, the reason you find the Harry Potter books murky and uninteresting is because the Demntors have eaten your soul. If you had manged to get through book three, you would have realized that!

11:31 AM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Alcibiades said...

Well, the first book is largely devoted to worldbuilding - and its prose is geared to very young audiences - so it is tedious for adults. As was the movie.

But the writing in the books ages with each volume. And the stories get more complex and involving. For me, the story took off in book 3, which is the first of the volumes to add pathos to the story.

11:36 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a sign I've occasionally seen at SF cons...'Reality is a crutch for those lacking in imagination'.

My ladyfaire has occasionally noted she reads reviews of SF movies that, in effect, begin 'although I didn't really understand it, I didn't like it very much. It was too confusing.'

In regards to Harry Potter, I have a very smart friend who's blogged on his theories about what's going on. He claims that clues to the final confrontation start in the first book, and the whole series is one piece--kind of like, I think, Babylon Five was conceived as one whole piece of cloth. Which if true, is quite the feat of artistic imagination. Most people can't even imagine a novel. Writing a novel is generally conceded as one of the hardest intellectual challenges out there. What my friend is claiming for Rowling is far beyond that. I, personally can't say, as my mystery reader skills are somewhat deficient.

I enjoyed the first bit under the stairs, as well, but thats the classic Cinderella story retold. After that, it shifted to more complicated and murky, but that may be a function of the child's viewpoint--to a child, life is complicated and murky.


11:49 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's fine that you don't see the value of Harry Potter, but I read the first three to my son, and when I returned from a week's absence (taking my other son for therapy), he had read #4, which had been left by a friend on our porch. He had never shown an interest in reading for himself, and I was to read it to him when I got home. Harry Potter #4 made him a reader, and he is a thirsty reader now, to boot.

As for me? I used to go to Hogwarts the first day of school summer holiday, and not get off the couch until I'd re-read them all. Now it would take me all summer to read them all again, so I don't get the chance. I would if I could, though.

These are truly not children's books. They were published by Scholastic, which makes people think they are children's books, but the reason I read them to my son was because I wondered if the themes were too extreme for a child in elementary school. By the time we'd read the first three, #4 was out and he was in Grade 4. It had enough evil for an adult, and I worried that he'd read it without me being present. I might not have let him read that one, if I'd gotten first crack at it.

To me they are stories of growth, of triumph over despair, of learning to do the right, not the expedient thing, of standing firm in the face of evil, even if it means you get bloodied or lose your life. And this fight is done, not by James Bond-style smooth talkers, but by common adolescent wizards-in-training, who might have a broken wand that backfires because it's held together by SpelloTape, because the parents can't afford a new one.

As for the movies? Meh. These books make better movies in the mind than you could ever make on film. Unless each on was as long as Patton or Gone With the Wind.


11:53 AM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too found the books uninteresting. They are not written crisply. The grammar and language is pedestrian, at best.

So why the fascination? The message of the books: some people are born special, most people are dross, and the dross do not recognize the genius of the special ones. The reader can imagine himself as one of the "special" people, and identify with Harry and friends. After all, if this world really existed, the reader would not be a muggle.

One reason the books are disinteresting to me is that theme. As far as I am concerned muggle is the new nigger -- a term used to dehumanize. I prefer fantasy worlds where anyone can become prince or high wizard or whatever through perseverance and hard work rather than an accident of birth. Obviously a lot of people feel otherwise -- they would rather be anointed as the great one rather than work to earn the title. Else why the audience?

12:06 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Rod said...

There's no accounting for taste.

I held off on reading the Harry Potter books for the longest time. Then I read one and went on to devour the rest of the series. I thoroughly enjoyed them all and look forward to the last one, especially considering all the loose threads left hanging.

I’m afraid to have to tell you that the series has become a classic in its own time. In other words, you can’t call yourself well rounded unless you have read them or some significant part of them.

12:11 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me start by saying I have not read any of the HP books, haven't had time to even think about it.

That being said, when it comes to reading - everyone has their likes and dislikes. Just because I don't care for a book doesn't mean anyone else feels the same (and vice versa). So, if people love the book and are excited to read it, more power to 'em. I hope they really enjoy it and I certainly have no criticism of that.

What I don't understand - no matter the "product" being released (be it book, movie, iPhone... what have you) is the mentality of "I MUST have it right now!" I find that far more incomprehensible than the books being so very popular.

We seem to have developed a society where we must have, do, or see something the very moment it's available. Even though if we wait a week or so, the same can be had for far less trouble. I really believe this is more the issue. Especially when people are willing to go to extreme lengths to acquire something, just to have it first. It's been going on for years in spurts (remember Cabbage Patch Dolls or Tickle Me Elmo?)

On a side note, I was in the grocery store this morning and they had an entire table of the Harry Potter book for sale. While the table was half full - there weren't a bunch of people trying to grab one and there must have been about 30-40 copies there. So, why all this standing in line business? It's a marketing ploy, even if people very much enjoy the hype.

Ah well, as long as people don't get hurt, they can spend their time doing whatever they want. If that means standing in line for hours waiting for a book - well, it's their time. Now if they want to make ME do that... we will have a problem. *grin*

12:23 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not just about the books. My teenagers are I went to see the movie at midnight and we played at the bookstore way past midnight last night. I try to stay far in the background when I attend high school events, but with Harry Potter stuff, we get to spend time together. Parents of younger children use the books as read together time. This is about enjoying something as a family while not helicoptering and preventing teens from having their own lives.

12:26 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Ruth Douthitt said...

As Christian parents, we did not allow our son to read the books when they first came out. He is 12 now and has no interest in reading them or seeing any of the movies.

The reason we did not let him read the books is because Harry is "born" a wizard and in the books a form of evil (witchcraft) is used to defeat another form of evil.

As Christians, we believe the only thing that can defeat evil(satan) is good (God)and He has already done so by defeating death once and for all. And we are taught in scriptures that everyone is born into sin and only can be saved through Christ. People choose to worship the devil and use witchcraft or wizardry. They are not born as wizards as though there is nothing that can be done about it.

So, that is why we did not let our son read the books. I have read a few pages of the first book and have watched a few scenes from the first film and have no interest in either.

My son is not a voracious reader of any sorts (which means he is a normal 12 yr. old kid...) but he loves editing his own movie trailers on our computer and he is a big movie fan. He is a computer wiz too.

As a substitute teacher at his school, I never say anything negative about the books to the students because many of them are huge fans so I just listen to them talk about the books. When I bring in movie themes to listen to while they work, I do include Harry Potter's soundtrack. They love it.

To each his own!

12:29 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger sharinlite said...

I couldn't get through the books either. However, my 22 and 17 year old grandkids have and watched the movies many, many time. I finally caught the new movie with them Wednesday and found values that are missing from most media today. It may sound hookie, but perhaps the kids see, hear and feel what a lot of adults are unable to or can't. But, of most interest to me was that my 10 year old grandchild picked up a Harry Potter book and started reading! That's an accomplishment for her.

12:38 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I certainly mean no disrespect to you or your excellent husband, whose site I visit daily, nor do I wish to be rude. But as a 51-year-old fan of the Potter books, I am both weary of and increasingly annoyed by the hubris of people who criticize and dismiss the books without having read them.

I'm sure you would give little credit to critics who know nothing of your field or your own work in it. So read the books and dislike them as is your right--if you can. But please refrain from doing so while remaining ignorant of the evolving maturity of the books and the drama, humor, and excitement they provide on nearly every page, not to mention the author's extraordinary wit, skill, and style. To continue to do so begs the question:

Who asked you?

12:45 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason we did not let him read the books is because Harry is "born" a wizard and in the books a form of evil (witchcraft) is used to defeat another form of evil.

As Christians, we believe the only thing that can defeat evil(satan) is good (God)and He has already done so by defeating death once and for all. And we are taught in scriptures that everyone is born into sin and only can be saved through Christ. People choose to worship the devil and use witchcraft or wizardry. They are not born as wizards as though there is nothing that can be done about it.

This argument confuses and astounds me. Do you refuse to read books in the Chronicles of Narnia series because they contain witchcraft and magic? Because if so, you're missing out on some amazing Christian allegory.

Rowling's writing style may be justly criticized, but the books' moral content is stellar. The emphasis is on loyalty, family, and doing right at great cost to oneself.

Or do you believe witchcraft and wizardry are real?

12:48 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Rick H. said...

I'd agree with you if the books kept the same tone and structure as the first book. However, much like the eponymous hero, they have matured with time. And honestly, I don't think one can truly enjoy those later books without having first put up with the childlike nature of the first three.

And honestly, I would be really curious to read your response to Order of the Phoenix (the fifth book) -- a book that one definitely needs to read Goblet of Fire (the fourth book, or at least the end of it) to appreciate everything that happens. That's the book that got me hooked for the rest of the series, and why I cannot wait to get through Deathly Hollows.

12:52 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess it has something to do with being 12. That's when it bit my kids. When they hit their teens one by one, Harry faded away.

1:13 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you are a psychologist, I put the question to you:

Could it be that those who deride and dismiss the Potter books without reading them, or as in your case, after only reading one of the earlier offerings, are seeking validation for their resentment of the hype?

Might that be why you felt a need to comment on the event of the seventh book's publication even though you're not a fan?

I have friends who are fans and friends who are not. The latter seem determined to convince me of my error in delighting in the books. Might it be that they resent others enjoying a party they have no interest in attending? That they seek others who share their dismissive opinion of the books so they won't feel so left out?

I think so. But then, I am not a psychologist.

1:32 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Depends on what you're into. If you read E. Nesbitt as a kid, and James Baldwin's The Story of Roland, along with a healthy dose of Le Guin, Tolkein & C. S. Lewis, and you're looking for some light reading, the Potter books fill the bill quite nicely. Makes for a nice break from reading about statistics for your dissertation, too, I find. It's not Great Literature, and it's not meant to be.

If you have any interest at all in the genre, then Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell may be more to your liking.

1:36 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

The heros in the Potter series aren't the well born, the rich nor the smartest, well, except for Hermione. Instead they are the ordinary people (of the wizard world) called upon to fight great evil.
Like Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe of WW2 the are the everyman doing huge things, as best they could.
I read them to make sure they were okay for grandchildren, they became something I looked forward to.

1:43 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger EnigmatiCore said...

I am certainly not going to try to get you to read a series you are not interested in.

However, I can point to my own experience, and you can draw from that what you want.

My wife likes to know what our kids are reading, and decide if we think it is appropriate for them or not. I read faster. Ergo, I end up reading things they will likely want to read.

I read the first Potter tome, and like you struggled to get through it. It was nothing special. Certainly nothing objectionable.

When the second and third books came out, I did not bother reading them, as I assumed they were more of the same.

When the fourth book came out (we have more than one child, so we still were screening for the youngest), reviews said the book was darker. We decided I should read that one.

It was more dark. It was also longer, more complex, more layered, and, most importantly, significantly more interesting.

I read the 5th, 6th, and 3rd books (in that order) because I wanted to. The series got better; I did not enjoy book 4 as much as books 5 or 6, and book 3 even less. I still have not read book 2.


1:44 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

When it comes to books, you either like them or you don't. I can't figure out why people I know can't stand Orson Scott Card, and I also have difficulty with my two friends who actually like The Lord of the Rings *for the poetry.* Cough.

I stood in line -- well, I sat around waiting and reading other books; my sister had to get a numbered wristband for me because I was driving across country and didn't get in town till 7:40 -- in part because of the great experiences I've had in line. Now, I've waited in some serious lines (6 weeks for each of the last two Star Wars films, 3 days for the second Lord of the Rings installment, 5 days for the third Lord of the Rings installment,) and I can tell you right now, the whole point is the shared experience. I actually despise crowds and the last hour of any line experience is horrible for me; it's all about the camaraderie and "we're all here because we like the same things" stuff.

The other half of why I was so determined to get the book *at midnight*? Simple; by the time it was midnight in my time zone, it was 5am in Great Britain, and there were already people posting reviews and putting the ending out. There were some people who got accidentally spoiled on the ending from postings they read online before coming to the bookstore. Moreover, every single one of my friends, from the ones who live in London to the ones who live in Australia, reads Harry Potter -- it behooves me to know what happens and have an opinion about it within about twenty-four hours of it being released.

For what it's worth, don't start with anything later than Goblet, and for the love of good stories, PLEASE don't start with the films. If you hate Rowling's style that's one thing, but the bottom line is that the movies muck up the plot so badly that it remains a surprise that anyone could form a coherent opinion on Harry Potter from the films alone.

(Oh: and I like Harry Potter for the same reasons that I like The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia. I also marvel at Rowling's style; she pulls off a level of respectful goofiness in her writing that I cannot manage myself.)

1:54 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that the NYT agreed to withhold disclosing the plot of this Harry Potter book prior to publication, but thought it was OK to disclose our secret anti-terrorist programs.

2:08 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger David said...

Liking or not liking Harry Potter is a question of taste. Some find it "insipid" others love it. My wife is generally uninterested in science fiction but will read anything written by Philip K Dick.
I can't read Melville or Dickenson but have read all of Poe and Walt Whitman. Does that mean Melville and Asimov bad writers. Of course not. Just because somebody isn't your taste doesn't make it bad writing.

Dr. Helen, you are "missing" anything. Harry Potter just isn't to your tastes.

2:08 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Jenn said...

Well, I see the books as more than the sum of their parts, personally. And while I liked them quite a bit, not necessarily for the usual reasons: sums it up pretty well.

2:39 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger K T Cat said...

I fell asleep in the theater during the first movie. I didn't see the rest. I can't recall if I finished the first book. I know I didn't start the others.

2:48 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry Potter is not for narcissists.

Move along to the self-help isle.

3:08 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger jimdooger said...

To everyone who has tried to read the books, but found them uninteresting or boring, but are still interested in the story-try listening to the in audio format (available at itunes). This is what I did, and am a confirmed Harry Potter fan. By the way I am 48 years old and have listened to all the books, mostly on my annual week long motorcycle trips every summer. The reader is great (Jim Dale), but more importantly I enjoy the series for the simple fact that Its a great story. I have prepaid for the last book and am expecting it shortly and will be listening to it when I take the Harley to Sturrgis in August.

3:20 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't characterize them as "childrens' books." They're more like adult books that don't contain any sexual content. Which, I suppose, makes them "kiddie books" to the perverts that can't read fiction unless it contains at least twenty sex acts per sentence, but to the rest of us who actually have children (or hope to, someday), it makes for some mighty fine reading, regardless of our age.

3:31 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is one fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal more popular than others? A good question that simply can't be answered by most. I have really enjoyed the Harry Potter series, probably because of the elements of Good and Evil, plus elements of Death and a little bit of rebirth (I won't call it Resurrection.) This is a saga of a boy growing up, and yet seemingly doomed to die before he has a chance to use adult skills to save himself. As the series progresses, we all learn that if he fails, all the people that he cares about will most likely be murdered too. So the stakes are pretty high. As mentioned, our hero isn't given all the pieces to the puzzle, and for many readers, that's maddeningly frustrating. If you don't like the style of J.K.Rowling, that's quite alright with this fan. Moby Dick is considered a classic book which I think is just awful. Nobody's calling the Harry Potter series "classic" but the popularity of it is more than just hype.

My wife's a writer. We just got back from the big writer's conference on romance (RWA), where the winner for Best Book (chosen by the writers, no fan competition here) turned out to be a Young Adult novel. I say this to reference the fact that novels written for the youth market can be pretty highly regarded even as judged alongside novels written for adults.

I suspect that with fiction written for the youth market, the themes of right and wrong, good and evil, friends, family and foe... can all be laid out with more contrast, which can make for a more satisfying read, even if it's a simpler one.

Lastly, with Harry Potter, you have the suspense of Severus Snape, the dark Janus whose true identity and allegiances are suspect until the last third of the final book. With all that material written, the author held back enough to keep the suspense going. I enjoyed how that played out, too.

3:55 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, a little background on me: I hadn't known the Narnia books even existed until I was in college. But I enjoyed them on the first reading.

The first time I read LOTR I was in high school and didn't like it very much. It seemed confusing and dense. It took a second reading in college before I appreciated it. Interestingly, this is similar to my reaction to Dickens' "Great Expectations" when I read it in 8th grade and then again years later.

I saw the first HP movie on TV and liked it before I read the book. When I did read the book (the one copy of the British edition in Chicago's Public Library), I was very disappointed and did wonder what all the hype was about. It seemed bland, thin, and not very interesting. I supposed that was because it really wasn't written for adults. But for adults who liked it, sincerely, more power to you. De gustibus and all that.

I didn't know the 4th book had won the Hugo. There are those who disagree with that award, but I'll consider giving it a chance.

Anonymous 1:32 PM, July 21, 2007 said...

"Could it be that those who deride and dismiss the Potter books without reading them, or as in your case, after only reading one of the earlier offerings, are seeking validation for their resentment of the hype?"

There certainly are people like that, and some of your friends seem to be that way. But IMHO as just another person reading her blog, my impression is that she's not one of them. Isn't is possible that what you're seeing as resentment is, at least in her case, just a difference in taste?

And in any case, it's her blog, she writes on it what she wants, and you are not forced to read it, unlike the way some of your friends seem to force their opinions on you.

4:02 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

Cover me, porkins wrote:
"A copy of the first book sits on my bookshelf where it will remain, unread. Insipid stuff."

I suppose you deduced that it was insipid by a minute examination of the cover. Well done, Watson.

Mrhhh wrote:
"You're not being given all the pieces to complete the puzzle, and you know it.

Actually, that's not true. There were a number of times on the first reading where I had that same thought, but then I was able to see on the second reading that I was wrong. All the clues are there, but in keeping with good mystery writing practice, she doesn't hang a neon sign on them.

At the peak of HP's popularity, I knew that eventually people would come out of the woodwork to denounce it. There are just too many elitists out there who believe that anything enjoyed by the masses must necessarily be garbage. I guess now that the last book is out, interest in the series will wane, and the denouncers can have their day. From a sampling of the above comments, I can see that we shouldn't expect much from the quality of the denuncations.

4:30 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 1:32:

I am not trying to convince you of anything. I am glad that people enjoy the books, I just do not share the same enthusiasm and have asked others to let me know if I am missing something. You suggest that those of us who are not "in on the party" are somehow trying to stop others from enjoying themselves. That may be for the friends you mentioned but not so for myself. Have a good time!

4:58 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger NoolaBeulah said...

Dear Dr Helen,
I remember hearing a radio programme with 4 very well-known and successful authors of children's books each of whom could be said to have 'literary ambitions'. When asked about their childhood reading, they cited a variety of authors, very few in common, except for one. Enid Blyton. In particular, the Famous Five. Only one had taken the trouble to go back and read her again, and he pronounced her 'unreadable dross'. That would be the opinion of most adults who sat down to read Enid Blyton. Unless they were reading aloud to a child.

Because whatever she does still works. She was the writer that got me reading voraciously and I suspect that she has worked the same magic for many, many others and will continue to do so. As will JK Rowling.

Rowling is better than Blyton, but I suspect she will perform this role as well. She has several essential qualities shared by the author of the Famous Five. Firstly, she portrays the child's world enhanced. There's no attempt at the 'real' world here because the world of realist novels is an adult one of emotional and economic relations that do not interest most children. The enhancement occurs by projecting the conflicts within onto a larger screen and adding a lot of effects. It is the world of school where children learn to fight their battles with their coevals on the playground and, because it's a boarding school, with authority figures uncomplicated by parental love.

A boarding school. That is important. It is a place with its own rules both day and night. It is cut off from the rest of the world. Parents, families are excluded. Identity must be forged on terms that take no account of the adult world, but belong to this world alone. Many teenagers feel like this anyway. A setting like Hogwarts formalises it. Its distance from everywhere we know as the real world is carefully maintained in the books just as that between the magic and the muggles's world is enforced by the Ministery of Magic (if with less success).

Rowlings is very conservative. Gender roles are such that they would have been recognised in the Thirties. The Big Bads and the Big Goods are all male and they will have to fight to decide the day. Females are loving and supportive (Mrs Weasley, Professor McGonagall), good and fussy (Hermione), bad and fussy (Dolores Umbridge), etc. But the great question is the male one - will the male reach maturity - that is, kill the bad guy? Children like this sort of clarity and feel comfortable with it. Rowling has extended it over 7 books with great single-mindedness. (It amazes me that the PC Brigade hasn't launched ICBMs at her - for the most part, it is as if PC was in another world, the muggle world, presumably.)

It should also be said that she has imagination, good puzzles, Latin, some great visual effects and lots of school humour. She's also got better and better sylistically. I thought the first chapter of the sixth book had real punch - economical but extremely effective. From what the children are saying downstairs, the first of this book is even better.

However, I wouldn't recommend them to an adult unless they have a child to read them to.

4:59 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was unimpressed with the first novel, but I liked the first two movies. So I went back and read the first book, then the next and so on and found her writing dramatically improves.

The first book has the character at age 11 and the book is very juvenile. Each book has the character age a year and as he does, the writing becomes more mature in the process. The perspective of the character very accurately mirrors the whole growing up process I recall. She does a great job of capturing coming of age and the stages of adolescence.

Her characters are also well drawn.

I don't think thee books are for everyone, but they will win you over if you like a good mystery yarn, because at their heart they are mystery novels. But what I really like about them is their politics. I would peg her as someone who doesn't like bureaucracies and is quasi-libertarian. And I can dig that.

5:00 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stories that depend heavily on magic are probably fun to write because there are no limitations on what is "allowed." Physics doesn't have relevance in a magical world.

The universal flaw, however, is that the magic always has to remain inadequate. Otherwise there could be a "Kill all my enemies right now!" spell, or an "I want to be healthy, happy and rich forever" spell, and where would the plot line go from there.

Avoiding this issue generally makes the stories themselves rather silly. That's why I like good sci-fi.

6:22 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I hope Triumph the Insult Dog was somewhere interviewing people in line for this book.

7:35 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, who's Harry Potter? Any relation to the old guy in It's a Wonderful Life?

7:47 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger artdeptgirl said...

Cover Me, Porkins said...
A copy of the first book sits on my bookshelf where it will remain, unread. Insipid stuff.

Forgive me, but, how do you *know* it's insipid if it sits unread on your bookshelf?

Billy Hollis said...
De gustibus non est disputandum.

I could never get through The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tedious, uninteresting characters, deux ex machina devices at every turn.

But I like Harry Potter. Not so much that I sweated last night waiting for my copy, but I'll read it before this coming week is out. Complex and varied characters, logic puzzles as plot devices, a libertarian attitude towards government and its officials - plenty of good stuff to keep me interested. Granted that Rowlings's prose style is not the best we've ever seen, but it's good enough that it doesn't detract from the story.

And yes, this.

8:27 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous 1:32 who wrote:

"Isn't it possible that what you're seeing as resentment is, at least in her [Dr. Helen's] case, just a difference in taste?

And in any case, it's her blog, she writes on it what she wants, and you are not forced to read it, unlike the way some of your friends seem to force their opinions on you."

I'm curious: What would be your reaction to a critic who panned a play based on her opinion of the playwriter's first effort?

I do not mean to offend anyone, least of all, Dr. Helen. But the fact that she and others feel such a strong need or desire to comment on the quality of a book series loved by millions based on so little familiarity with it tells me there's something more at work than literary criticism.

What purpose do comments such as hers serve except to reinforce the opinions of others who agree--usually, like Dr. Helen, after rejecting the earliest and most juvenile of the books? Is it to warn other not to bother reading them? That ship has sailed. To criticize the author's work? Shouldn't one be more familiar with the books before dismissing them all?

I maintain that such comments are really, but perhaps unintentionally, intended to comfort others who just "don't get it" and feel somewhat left out of the fun. It reminds me of people who bother to deride attendees of a party they themselves are not invited to or are not interested in attending.

Yes, it's her blog. Were I to start a blog tomorrow criticizing the methods and opinions of forensic psychologists without knowing much about the subject, as I have every right to do, would you say, in my ignorance, I can offer anything relevant on the subject?

Perhaps you see my point?

9:06 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the first book. It was ok if you like that kind of thing.

As for Pottermania - I think people just wanted something entertaining and escapist, but most of all, something accessible. Other than fans, who really enjoys written science fiction or fantasy anymore? The Potter books were written for anyone to enjoy - not just genre insiders.

Sometimes my own reaction to a book just depends on whether it happens to coincide with my interests at the time it comes out. My Fantasy period was quite a few years back - now I'm interested in other things, mostly history. I don't need Harry's fantasy world - I escape to the past. Helps me understand the present.

Also, I am a grownup and don't need a kid's book to tell me about life. Actually, I don't need fiction to tell me anything about life. History does it for me.

9:36 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. - Folks who get all defensive about it, grow up. Sometimes I think readers are more thin-skinned about their favorite books than the authors are themselves.

Helen was just asking why Pottermania exists, not trying to spoil anyone's fun. If you can't enjoy a book unless everybody else says nice things about it - well, you're in for a lot of disappointment.

9:48 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tripe? No. I fell in love with the Harry Potter books because:

1) They talk about hard moral lessons and themes: truth, doing right when it's not easy, friendship, love, sacrifice, and teamwork.

2) The books are written from an educated standpoint. I grew up with them. The more I learned in history class, about Western civilization, the more I identified tools, themes, and history in Rowling's books. You'd have to be an pretty educated person to get why the school Durmstrang, famous for the Dark Arts, is called so.

Really, a "grown-up" has nothing to do with it. Are grownups above stories about right and wrong? I didn't think so.

10:18 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are children's books and I am an adult.

Well, as Mitch Hedberg said, "Every book is a children's book if the kid can read."

10:23 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Missed the boat only in that it's not your type of boat trip, apparently.

I also read the first couple and got bored, but I'm thrilled to see so many people excited about a book at all!

I think the "children's book" comment by Althouse is rather dumb, actually...does she limit herself to literature marketed only to her demographic? Does she think all "children's literature" is beneath her lofty "grown-up" dignity? How sad.

11:04 PM, July 21, 2007  
Blogger Suzie Nolen Bennett said...

Thanks, Dr. Helen, for affirming what I've told my Potter-crazy friends since the first book arrived... I just don't 'get' it.

I tried to read the first book, and couldn't stay awake through the first few chapters.

11:14 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nah, you're not missing anything. Read C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" -- now, there's the real thing, sans prosaic pretentiousness! Rowling throws in everything but the kitchen sink in order to make sure she makes the point. Good writers just get to the point. There's a difference.

11:54 PM, July 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am grateful to JK Rowling. No, she didn't deliver great prose or deep literary meaning - but her first HP book came to us at a time when my eldest son was in the fourth grade and not really convinced that reading was cool. He read it and was captured by the magic of reading - it grew to other literature - JRR Tolkien, A Dumas, CS Lewis, and others. These were authors that we and his teachers had tried to introduce before with no success. But for whatever reason, HP engaged him and from that introduction to reading - he discovered writing - and his siblings have followed his example. I have read the books and they are enjoyable - not the best, not the worst. And today seeing my 17 year old (18 next month) checking the door compulsively to see if the last HP had arrived reminded me that I do have a soft spot in my heart for HP and Ms Rowling - regardless of the PR hype. For this I am grateful.

12:12 AM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

Dr Helen wrote:
"Perhaps I am missing something. Enlighten me if you have read the series and think I have missed the boat in some way."

As others have said, the series becomes more adult over time. I like all of the books now, but I admit to not being overwhelmed by the first book on my first reading. I read the next one, because I wanted to see how it progressed. By the time I got through the third one I was hooked, and number four sealed the bargain. I think if you gave them a chance, they might grow on you. Then again, the phenomenal hype that surrounds them at this point may have pushed your expectations so high that you can never just accept the books for what they are and enjoy them. If there's a drawback to the publicity, that would be it. Maybe you should give it a few years to cool down, and then come back to them.

12:33 AM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Synova said...

I'm in no hurry to get this book, but I will. I don't want anyone to tell me what happens in it.

I read the first four out loud to my kids. The hardest part was not reading ahead when my voice finally gave out after a couple hours.

My take on them is that Rowlings sat down with a child development guide and started with "age 11". The 11 year olds are often cruel. Neville's first year was pure hell. They become less so over time. Harry deals with the truth that his parents might not be perfect right on schedule. Harry gets a crush on a girl when that should happen too. The friends have falling outs just like they should.

The view of adults is that rules are capricious and the adults start out as not very real. Reality seems to be defined by the kids' perceptions and as they age that is slowly changing and becoming more complex. The way the teachers are portrayed also becomes more complex over time, allowing new possibilities such as the way Snape as evolved from simple evil to someone nearly heroic (NO DON'T TELL ME... I don't want to know until I get the book and read it.)

1:02 AM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger deepfix said...

i'm a little confused and a little drunk (it's what i get assigning a whole day to reading one book.) man, people are so angry. dude, we're reading. we're excited about what happens next. is it literature? man, that's the job of someone who has nothing better to do with their time a hundred years from now. all that matters is we're reading.

and, i've read all the king's men a million times and many of robert penn warren's other books. so don't act all snobby on me.
you're boring.

1:30 AM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Synova said...

I forgot a good example of my "child development chart" theory, and that's how as Harry hits puberty he starts to have anger issues. I read that and it was a "yup, right on schedule" sort of moment.

1:37 AM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Vader said...

"Obviously a lot of people feel otherwise -- they would rather be anointed as the great one rather than work to earn the title. Else why the audience?"

I think this is what bothers me about Harry Potter also. It sneers at the majority of humanity, which it regards as a flock of sheep. Very different from Tolkien, whom I much appreciate.

1:56 AM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Andrew Graff said...

I had much the same reaction to it at first.

She's not a great writer. Her prose rarely impresses. And she lacks those world building skills that so impress in say Tolkien.

Four-fifths of the way through the first book, I was bored and wondering what all the fuss was about. Then, I read the last fifth of the book, and this was just good enough, the twist just satisfying enough, the details I'd missed just intriguing enough, and the whole story line wrapped up neatly enough to convince me that I should read the next book.

And so it was with the next book. Most of the way through it I was bored and not at all impressed. And yet, the last fifth of the book was just good enough to make it not a waste of time.

And so also with the next, except that by this time, the trick which once impressed and satisfied was as becoming as tired and ultimately unwelcome as the third paragraph of a Kurt Vonnegut story.

Ultimately for me, it was the fourth book which saved the series for me. If the fourth book had been no better than the first three, I probably would have quit reading there. But alone of all the books of the series, the fourth held my attention from start to finish. It combined a throughly enjoyable - and increasingly mature - story with JKR's excellent sense of story.

But it was the only one like that. The three following books are more sophisticated than the first three, but by the seventh I was getting tired of them again - and to be frank, it shows from the writing in book seven that Rawlings is getting a bit tired of them as well.

2:25 AM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

It's 11:35 at night. My daughter is downstairs reading the book which she started when she got home from work at 5:00.

She says she must finish it tonight, she appears to be about half way though. So I imagine she will arrive at her job tomorrow with about 3 hours of sleep.

To me, the most exciting part was when she cut to the end about 2 hours ago. She screamed "They lied in the Spoilers"!

Being more interested in the business aspect of this, I thought that was pretty clever of the publisher, assuming it was the publisher that spread false info over the last week.

2:40 AM, July 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the Harry Potter books. And I am an obsessive geek. But I could never become REALLY obsessive over a series of children's novels based thematically on "Star Wars" which was based in large part on "Dune" & Star Blazers."

I give Rowling all the credit in the world for marketing her B-grade literary skills to a level where she was able to lift herself from the dole to the billionaire club.

And she does have some edge. She is good at describing the pains of adolescence. She can tell a story.

Her editor sucks, obviously. Because NOBODY needs 800 pages to tell a really good story.

(Sorry: what's the real mean for the Potter books? 500 pages per or so? Still too long. Join a support group, J.K.).

I still like the Potter books. Don't get me wrong. But speaking as a famously obsessive fanboy, I still can't imagine myself liking them that much.

It'd be like hanging out in the girls locker room without the girls in it.

You know what I'm saying?

3:53 AM, July 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished the book and loved it. I loved the series.

I guess it's too boring for the boorish.

4:20 AM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Prasenjeet said...

The Williamsburg Regional Library blog puts it really well. Extracts:

1. “They’re kids books.”

No they’re not, not all of them. The first two may not grip you, but persevere through the third book and you’ll find yourself reading some very heavy stuff. Besides, it’s fun to read kids books, no matter what your age.

3. “They’re so popular, they can’t be good.”

That was my excuse for not reading them till four books had already been published. I was dead wrong. I was too much of a snob to think they could have any real literary merit. With all due contrition, I confess that I was astonishingly mistaken. Though the prose is simple to read and comprehend, the quality of the writing is superb.

5:05 AM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 9:06:

"Yes, it's her blog. Were I to start a blog tomorrow criticizing the methods and opinions of forensic psychologists without knowing much about the subject, as I have every right to do, would you say, in my ignorance, I can offer anything relevant on the subject? Perhaps you see my point?"

No, I don't see your point. The analogy would be that a forensic psychologist wrote a series of books. Many people found the books fascinating. You read the first book and found the topic and story uninteresting to you personally and stated your opinion and asked others what they thought of the books. Nowhere have I criticized J.K. Rowling for her "methods or opinions." I have simply expressed a personal opinion about how I feel about her books. You are mistaking my personal reaction to her books for a critique of her work. I offer no such critique nor would I, for as you pointed out, I do not have enough information. But I do know my likes and dislikes, for I am the only expert on those.

7:09 AM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

A couple of the posters above have made the point better than I did. It is not great writing, as we adults understand it. But the books were not written for us, but for kids. And for them, they are well written.

Why do I say that? I have witnessed kids who were ambivalent readers sitting down with the first book, not being able to put it down, and henceforth being avid readers.

My guess is that the books are best for about the age group being portrayed in any given book. And enjoyable for those a several years younger if sufficienty precosious. Thus, the 10 year old is not going to enjoy the final book as much as the average HS senior, but he is not as likely to enjoy the first book as an eleven year old.

At some point, you have to quite analyzing, and just accept that any book series that can turn a generation of kids into avid readers is good just for that, regardless of literary merit or actual content. And remember, they weren't written for us, the adults, but for the kids.

As a side note, this problem of adults reviewing, etc. childrens' books is why kids I know think that about half the Newberry award books are abysmal. There was just something missing in these books from a kid's point of view. But the adult critics loved them.

10:15 AM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Don said...

Well, for one thing, you can't win one of those awards if your book is not sufficiently didactic. You have to be teaching some great lesson, because adults firmly believe that the purpose of childrens' reading is for children to become adults faster.

That said, I absolutely love Harry Potter books. If you quit after the first one, you missed the development--as the main characters mature, the books do, too, to the point that a lot of this latest book is going over my 11-year-old boys' heads--and they enjoyed the Lord of the Rings trilogy even though that was partly over their heads as well.

But, hey, I still enjoyed the first book, so maybe it's all a matter of taste.

1:19 PM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

i say anything that makes anyone adult or child read more, is fine by me, so many people today dont read they only watch tv, but reading takes you to a different place, where you live their lives.

it could be romance, horror, mystery, these are aimed at children, but if an adult can experience the joy and pleasure of the printed word then, i am happy for them.

2:48 PM, July 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I get it... You're just toooooo smart and important for Harry Potter. Yep, that's it! Enjoy your too important life.

3:53 PM, July 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I haven't been much of a reader of anything since high school English class. If there is anything that will destroy someone's love of reading, it will be the inanity of three-point essays.

4:11 PM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Joe said...

Rowlings knows how to string words together and create imaginable scenes. At the basic level, she created an interesting world. Unfortunately, she doesn't understand plot or characters and has gotten much to wordy (She, like Steven King, needs a really strong willed brutal editor--my guess is that her editor is afraid to do anything, an affliction affecting almost all top authors to their detriment.)

PS. I've read all the books, but found the middle ones extremely boring, overly long and anti-climatic. Events that could have taken place in two weeks were dragged out over eight months.

The most annoying aspect of the entire series is that if something so important were happening to you, you wouldn't be such a lazy ass about it. You'd learn those things you needed to in order to survive. The excuse is "well they're kids" is nonsense--when something matters to kids, most put their heart into it. I've seen it even with the kids who seem to care about nothing.

4:19 PM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

or being forced to read of mice and men, or the grapes of wrath..

god they were so boring..turned me off the "classics".

4:21 PM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Eric said...


Bless you for saying that. While I'd been keeping this to myself, I have been feeling like an antisocial misfit in the midst of all this obsessive chatter, because I have no interest in Harry Potter -- either the books or the movies. It all strikes me as a bunch of hype for aging adolescents (and aging wannabe adolescents).

I don't mean to judge people whose tastes I do not share, but it seems reasonable to me that if they can all carry on so much about how they love Harry Potter, I ought to be allowed to say I'm not interested. (The problem is, if you voice a negative opinion when people are exulting in the streets, you feel like Ebenezer Scrooge.)

5:12 PM, July 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am disturbed that a psychologist that works with children should be so haughty and condescending about children's books. Do you think you are too smart for children's literature? Don't you know that throughout history politics and social commentary have been hidden in children's literature, music and nursery rhymes? I am sorry that you are so narrow.

5:22 PM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

anonymous 5:22:

You must disturb easily.

5:25 PM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Jungle Jim said...

Helen said...
anonymous 5:22:

You must disturb easily.

Touche' Helen.


6:27 PM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Harry Potter must be losing popularity. "Chuck and Larry" beat Harry at the box office.

6:35 PM, July 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen: I have enjoyed the Harry Potter books--but really don't much like fantasy as a genre. Some do. To each his own.

I would love to know what, if anything, you read with Harry Potter-like ferver?

6:47 PM, July 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:52 PM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


As a kid, I loved greek mythology and read hundreds of biographies of sports heroes, politicians, and other famous people. I loved reading about people's lives and how they came to find the work or cause that drove them.

8:18 PM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Still can't . . . get over . . the ripping off . . . of Neil Gaiman!!!! I mean, I know you're not supposed to talk about that anymore, but still. She totally stole from him for the original concept. Here's my version of the "myth of Harry Potter genesis" - woman sitting in coffee shop with Gaiman comics . . . ah, well, so what if she did. Obviously she added a hell of a lot to The Books of Magic. Just not that much that was actually any good.

I love fantasy and sci-fi and having read the first book entirely and *tried* to read the rest - it irks me a little that a shoddy writer like Rowlings gets to be so popular when there actually is so much excellent work out there getting ignored.

But such is life! More power to those that enjoyed them, I sort of wish I did too.

9:15 PM, July 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read all the books save this latest one, which I will read, but only after it's on the bargain table.

No, I am not boorish, I don't hate children, I have a great imagination (I read lots of other fantasy books, particularly Terry Pratchett) and I read "children's" books all the time (Particularly Terry Pratchett :)

And I don't 'get' the Harry mania. I read the first few because my son insisted, and those I actually enjoyed, despite not thinking that they were "instant classics" or anything that pretentious. Then around book 4 my kid lost interest, but I'm one of those people that sort of *has* to finish off a series of books, so I continued reading them (waiting for afore mentioned bargain table). Some people say she got bettere, but I think she got worse with each book. After book 4, it really felt as if no one was daring to edit her, and every author, I don't care HOW brilliant you are, needs to be edited. It also felt like the books were getting longer just for the sake of making them longer.

I also am a little concerned at just how angry the HP fans get at the slightest criticism of the book or the author. People get accused of being not members of the human race? Come on, folks. Lighten up.

My favorite author is Terry Pratchett. I can go on for days about how great he is. If you don't care for his work, or actually think he sucks, I don't think you are a troglodyte or in need of mental health services. You just...have a different opinion than mine. No biggie. HP fans should consider having the same attitude. What ever happened to "different strokes for different folks"?

Let the Pterry bashing begin!

9:45 PM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger artdeptgirl said...

Some further thoughts...

Right now, literally all over the world, people are sharing a story.


They're sharing a story about faith, about love, about hope and fear, about standing up for what you believe, about tolerance and understanding, about courage and duty, honor and committment, about stepping forward to do what you know is right even when that might get you killed, about liberty and freedom, equality and rights, about the razor thin line between crushing intrusion and protecting the public, about friendship and family, about loss and recovery, pain and forgiveness.

All over the world this story is being shared right this very moment in space and time.

Crossing culture, crossing language, crossing politics and religion; witness the power of storytelling, the power of imagination, the power of hope.

Litcrit The Books all you want, and be justified in doing so, but stand back and recognize the utterly amazing thing that Jo Rowling has done - she's united humanity, for just a little while, around the Boy Who Lived.

9:58 PM, July 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. Helen, This is my first visit here. Came here through RL Bates to have a look and was instantly impressed by this post which was on the top of your page.
I Couldn't Agree More. JK Rowling doesn't do a thing to me. I wasn't too impressed by Tolkien. I gave up midway through The Hobbit and never went back (some years ago). Not that I don't like fantasy,
I'm a Terry Pratchett fan and have read all the Discworld novels.

11:50 PM, July 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We first picked up the HP books to convince our gifted but intimidated reader that longer chapter books weren't something to be afraid of. We read a chapter a night aloud through the first book and she became a voracious reader. A voracious reader of age-appropriate, insipid fiction. It's okay, she's only 11.

For me, HP books are a quick fun read. Short sentences are combined into uncomplicated paragraphs create bold brushstrokes of Good and Evil. It's exciting to see where the characters (or plot devices, for the cynical) will be driven and pushed.

There are some very grown-up ideas like
*we often choose/create our enemies
*all creatures have inherent value and deserve respect
*those who seek power are often the least worthy
*there is always a choice

I'm not the kind of fan who scours web sites for spoilers and hidden clues to plot lines, or celebrates character birthdays. I did notice that many elements of the 7th book were popular speculative plot-lines among the faithful and wonder if this has been a "group effort" of sorts.

I don't believe there was an over-arching vision for the books or there would been better continuity. I am so glad the Christian poster was able to be coherent about her objection to the series because now I understand and can very respectfully quit wondering.

It's a Snickers bar. More substantive than cotton candy, not as good for me as a turkey sandwich.


1:51 AM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

i am also a huge pratchett fan, i have everyone of his books, apart from the johnny and the dead series..

anything that gets more people reading is fine by me, it could be graphic novels, thats reading.

if someone doesnt like the series, then no one forces them to read it, they are a light story, for when i have got nothing else to read, i am a voracious reader, i did read the latest potter book in 4 hours, i devour books.

they are ok, not too heavy, not too full of subtext, no "deeper" meanings that so many books today have. i just finished before the latest HP, peter f hamiltons, the reality dysfunction. hard going book. so i needed the change of lighter books.

i cant read some books the authors dont do it for me, so i dont read them and i dont object to them.

3:38 AM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I like the Harry Potter books, especially the third, the prisoner book.

The new Deathly hallows book is so VERY dark and depressing that I find it hard to read. I'll get through it, but am unlikely to reread the book and I have reread all of the other; the third several times.

I read fiction to laugh or to think. I want to see that there is some good in this world.

Rowling does make a serious error in her connection with evil. For evil to function it must be presented as good, information must be controlled. Fear will not control a population, fear only causes opposition. Rowling does not get this important point.

5:31 AM, July 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't like it, don't read it. I gave Gravity's Rainbow 50 pages, 13 for The Hobbit, and I had to break down and get Cliff's Notes for Great Expectations (only because we had to read it for class). All "great" literature, all horribly overwrought and pretentious and un-frickin-readable.

The genius of Harry Potter is its accessibility. The first book is HUGE, and yet a kid can easily churn through it, and at the end say, "Hey, this reading thing is pretty cool! What else can I read?" And just like that, you've made a reader out of a vidiot.

10:28 AM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

Tried twice, but couldn't get into the first book. I wish I liked it, though because I actually think it would be fun to be a part of it all.

11:03 AM, July 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Harry Potter books are simply a whacking good read. I teach children's literature, and I work at a bookstore part time. I see how kids (and adults) bond with Harry and want to know more. I suspect that the same thing happened in pre-literate society when men, women and children sat around the fire while the story teller spun his magical tales.

People love a good story. And if the story happens to feature a very likeable character like Harry then it's doubly good.

As for people who turn their noses up at children's book - well I don't want to be associated with such snobs. Good books are good books no matter what age group they are written for. I was 24 before I read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Loved them!! They are good tales, well told. That's what I want in my books.

11:30 AM, July 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've come very late to the Harry Potter mania, having just finished the first book this weekend.

I finally DO understand what the fuss is about. It's a fun book with interesting characters that's easy to read.

Yes it's a kids' book and no it isn't challenging reading, but then again, neither was "The DaVinci Code," which I finished in a weekend of easy reading.

Go to Borders and Barnes and Noble and you'll find rows and rows of adult fiction that is no more challenging than Harry Potter.

11:49 AM, July 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep in mind also that many people use music and literature as fashion accessories. Their listening and reading choices announce their smartness, distinguish them from the "herd," identify them as members of certain subcultures, etc. They geniunely enjoy the arts, but they also use them as badges to communicate to others (and themselves) that they are a certain "kind" of person. Not sure whether the latter is a good thing, but it's typical human behavior.

I don't see that as much with the Potter crowd. Seems to consist of pretty much everybody. There are some serious Potter geeks (saw a car Friday night with a 3MUGGLS license plate - heading to the bookstore for the big Harry Potter party, of course). Overall, though, the books seem to appeal to more than hardcore genre fans.

Ultimately, I think it's down to appealing characters, interesting settings, important themes, and - an important point - expressing positive values rather than obsessively, ironically analyzing, criticizing, or parodying them. (Though I'm sure that various English majors and "studies" geeks are even now busily unpacking all the hidden meanings to prove how Harry subverts everything.) As such, they may not be "thinking persons" books. They're just a good, satisfying read.

For some people, of course, not all.

12:03 PM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger dweeb said...

It fits that you only found the part about his life at his uncle's house interesting. No one enters the mental health field without at least a slight dysfunction fetish.

I guess the obvious question is what you think of other sci-fi or fantasy works you've read.

2:01 PM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


I am not a huge SF or fantasy fan but I love Robert Heinlein's work because of his focus on social issues, individualism and libertarianism. I like "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" but I only recently read it. Some of my favorite quotes come from "The Notebooks of Lazarus Long."

2:17 PM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:47 PM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

you will love, to sail beyond sunset, by heinlein, very good.. time enough for love is good,

yes i am a fan i have a lot of his books

3:53 PM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks, I'll have to get those.

4:31 PM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

I am probably younger than most of your visitors and I usually read young adult books. I think it is legitimate that some adults aren't interested in children's books. I have only read a few adult fiction books, starting with "The Sword of Shannara" by Terry Brooks and that was as a class in 7th grade English. Last summer I went to an event with Terry Brooks. He read a chapter from a book he is currently writing and I came to the conclusion that the complexity between some adult fantasy novels and some children fantasy novels isn't much different. If I recall correctly he has read and enjoyed the Harry Potter series. Helen, it seems like you don't read fiction much at all. There are plenty of books about magic, I'm not sure why this series did so well. Although I think Rowling is really good at doing twists and leaving clues. I have enjoyed the 6 books and the 5 movies. My mom finished reading the 7th book, 26 hours after getting it and it is approximately 750 pages. She gave it to me, but I won't read it for about two weeks. I am currently reading "Peter and the Starcatchers" by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. It is basically the story leading up to Peter Pan. I want to read Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie next and then I'll read the final book.

mrhhh: Then the 4th book won a Hugo award.

My uncle was never interested in reading them, but one time he decided to read the 4th book and he really enjoyed it and I think he has read the remaining books. Perhaps those adults that enjoy fantasy novels are more likely to enjoy Harry Potter.

tennwriter: He claims that clues to the final confrontation start in the first book, and the whole series is one piece--kind of like

I've heard that she made an outline of the whole series before writing it, but that might be common for most authors.

ken in sc: Isn't it interesting that the NYT agreed to withhold disclosing the plot of this Harry Potter book prior to publication, but thought it was OK to disclose our secret anti-terrorist programs.

Are you a fan of Glenn Beck? He thought of the same thing.

5:47 PM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

Stephen: Well, as Mitch Hedberg said, "Every book is a children's book if the kid can read."

While that's a cute saying, I don't think it is true. There are some issues that adults are more prepared for. Of course there are mature kids. I have a 14-year-old male cousin who has been reading the Shannara books for several years.

tomcal: To me, the most exciting part was when she cut to the end about 2 hours ago. She screamed "They lied in the Spoilers"!

My mom read the last page first. She says she frequently does this to make sure the book is worth reading. Based on the previous books, I told her it probably didn't reveal much and she said it told her two things. I like to look at the last page to see how long the book is, but I try to avoid reading any of it. I like the suspense! I keep track of how far I am through the book based on percentage.

mercurior: or being forced to read of mice and men, or the grapes of wrath..

I enjoyed both of those books, I like John Steinbeck. I read the Narnia books when I was about 11, but outside of that I basically didn't read for pleasure until college. However, I enjoyed most of the books we read in English. I like the environment of having an expert lead us and peers to discuss the book.

As far as books being poorly written, "The Da Vinci Code" fits right in but it is still fun to read. The book I am currently reading has poor grammar, but I enjoy it.

dadvocate: Harry Potter must be losing popularity. "Chuck and Larry" beat Harry at the box office.

I guess because of all those Adam Sandler fans. I have enjoyed several of his movies, but this one doesn't appeal to me. Plus all the Potter fans are probably reading. I read an article that said the Sunday predictions were too close to call.

anonymous @ 9:45 pm, the books are already being sold for 40% off the sticker price. My mother enjoys both Pratchett and Rowling.

5:50 PM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger davidvs said...

The first book is quite likable.

Rowling blends some standard themes (British orphan with brutish parents, British boarding school bullying, exterior scenes with a Dickensian look, interior scenes with a Medieval look, etc.) quite masterfully, while adding some genuine inventiveness (Quidditch most notably).

Moreover, the first book is all about Harry's leadership. He is a hero not because of his brains or brawn but because he can rally friends together and lead them to success. It's rare to have a children's book feature this virtue in its protagonist.

The other books are adventure stories of a more typical flavor, appealing to people who like that genre, but not as notable from a literary or psychological perspective.

5:55 PM, July 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P Rich said, "Stories that depend heavily on magic are probably fun to write because there are no limitations on what is "allowed." Physics doesn't have relevance in a magical world."

One of the cool things about Harry Potter's world is that its magic does have limitations. Rowling created a world that has strict rules about how the magic works. (HP fans love to find bits in the stories that seem to defy the rules and hash out whether it could really work that way or not.)

I stood in line at midnight and just finished reading the seventh. I was in a race to finish it before I overheard someone reveal anything before I was ready.

12:25 AM, July 24, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

i like reading harry potter because its not heavy..

before i read it i had read reality dysfunction by peter hamilton, 1200 pages long hard sci fi.. took me a week and i read fast.. its a nice change of pace.

its nice not to have to over think the potter books. i still prefer pratchett and heinlein. some people cant suspend their beleif to read sci fi, or fantasy or horror, but thats ok. you find a genre or 2 that you adore and go from there..

to sail beyond sunset and time enough for love both are lazarus long books, the next best fav of mine is number of the beast.

6:04 AM, July 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen - I think my favorite Heinlein story is Double Star. It's a novelette about an actor who is asked to impersonate the highest ranking politician on the planet.

As you say, Heinlein is less of a SF writer and more of social commentary writer using SF as a backdrop. I also very much enjoy his "kids novels" such as The Red Planet, Starship Troopers, Tunnel in the Sky, etc.

12:14 PM, July 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry Potter must be losing popularity. "Chuck and Larry" beat Harry at the box office.....

....all the Potter fans are probably reading.

Releasing the 5th movie two weeks before the 7th book has to be one of the biggest marketing and business blunders in history. You don't release a movie two weeks before you motivate your core market to spend 1-7 days worth of leisure time buried in a book. The poor third weekend showing will prompt the theater chains to shorten its run, and many fans will finish book 7 to find movie 5 already in the $2 theaters.

4:22 PM, July 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I wouldn't characterize them as "childrens' books." They're more like adult books that don't contain any sexual content. Which, I suppose, makes them "kiddie books" to the perverts that can't read fiction unless it contains at least twenty sex acts per sentence, but to the rest of us who actually have children (or hope to, someday), it makes for some mighty fine reading, regardless of our age."

Is it wrong that I hope for a secret follow up? Harry Potter and The Unwanted Teen Pregnancy? Where Harry faces off against Planned Parenthood and Ginny's desire to abort?

7:07 AM, July 25, 2007  
Blogger Manos said...

To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, no children's book is worth reading unless it can be read by adults. Harry Potter succeeds for both children and adults.

And I disagree with those that see Harry Potter as escapism. The situations that Harry gets into at school mirror the real world all too well; bullying, alienation, out of touch teachers, friendship, relationships, morality, etc.

What I find really interesting about Harry Potter is the libertarian thread, the anti-government and personal responsibility meme. It will be really interesting to see how much these lessons sink in with the current generation of Harry Potter reading children..

11:47 AM, July 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My seventeen year old worked the event, in costume, for a local bookstore. It was a one-time thing arranged by a friend, and she thought that it would be fun to be part of the event. They had various activities going on in the store relative to the book release.

She said that parents were bringing younger children and just letting them run wild in the store, which is why the management hired extra staff. My daughter, when denying access to a staff-only area of the store to an unaccompanied ten year old was called an "evil muggle" (or something on that order) and the kid actually tried to cast a spell on her. The kid really went into a rage when she laughed in response; she thought he was kidding! Craziness.

But the most amazing thing we saw was an article in the local newspaper which preceded the release. It was giving tips for "grief support" for their children in the event that one of their beloved characters died in the book. #1 was advice not to remind the child that this was a fictional character. Craziness.

12:50 PM, July 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I find really interesting about Harry Potter is the libertarian thread, the anti-government and personal responsibility meme.

Academic review demonstrating why J.K. Rowling may be the most
influential libertarian author since John Stewart Mill:

This link is to the abstract and links to download the complete paper as a PDF. Warning to those who have not finished the first 5 books: the footnotes contain numerous plot spoilers.

1:57 PM, July 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter, when denying access to a staff-only area of the store to an unaccompanied ten year old was called an "evil muggle" (or something on that order) and the kid actually tried to cast a spell on her. The kid really went into a rage when she laughed in response

That's a kid who needs more than not reading Harry Potter. He needs to go over someone's knee.
Don't blame the book for merely exposing a case of bad parenting.

2:01 PM, July 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't think she blaming the book - just pointing out how crazy kids can get over something they like.

He'll grow out of it when he discovers girls, or else he'll turn into a serial killer who believes Lord Voldemort commands him to torture muggles to death.

What the hell - at least he's reading...

4:21 PM, July 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I finished #7 last night. I cried.

Re those who think it's crazy to have grief support for children in case their favorite character dies, yes, it's important to know the difference between real life and fiction. At the same time, many of us have grown to love the characters in these books, and have watched them grow up, and grow in strength of character, and we want them to live in our mental movie and have happy, successful lives.

A good friend of mine and I read Herman Wouk's Winds of War, and War and Remembrance, many years ago. I don't remember names of the family members now, and don't care to go a-googling for it, but those people became like real people to me for the reading of the books. At one point in the book, the main character's son is in combat in an airplane over the Pacific Ocean, when he's hit. The plane crashes into the ocean, and the son dies. I tell you, it was a shock. I had to stop reading for about four days, because he had been so real to me. It felt like I'd heard of the death of someone very dear to me, and was waiting for the funeral before continuing to read the book. I called my friend when he "died", and she had had the same reaction.

Good writing is good writing. I'm glad that there is a Hogwarts, if only in my imagination. It's better by far than a lot of things that sometime get stuck in there!


10:45 AM, July 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody remember Little Nell?

12:11 PM, July 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for the "Rejected Harry Potter Titles Thread."

You know...

Harry Potter Does Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Embarrassing Personal Problem
Harry Potter: Oops! I jinxed them again
Harry Potter and the Billionaire Sugar Momma

The possibilities are endless...

7:08 PM, July 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry Potter is a book children read and enjoy, but it's not in essence about childhood. It is a story of good and evil, light and darkness, life and death, and knowing yourself. You and Althouse are too conflicted about childhood and children to get it.

7:44 PM, July 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you only related to Harry living under the stairs and being abused by his bullying cousin?

What does that say about your mental state? Or world view?

7:49 PM, July 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen says "I love Robert Heinlein's work because of his focus on social issues, individualism and libertarianism."

I say that I enjoy Potter for the very same reasons.

10:23 AM, July 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the early HP books, the later ones less so (they drag and start taking themselves too seriously). Overall though, I'm a fan.

An interesting question to ponder: will people still be reading Harry Potter in 100 years? I don't have an answer for that one. My gut feeling is that they are not as significant as, say, the Narnia books, which are borderline obscure these days.

12:42 PM, July 30, 2007  
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