Because life is a series of edits

Harry, I Hardly Knew Ye

In Books on July 21, 2007 at 6:43 am

Harry Potter Release Party

For those who might be worried, don’t be: there are no spoilers in this post. Plot-spoiling is hard without knowing the plot, and knowing the plot is hard when you’ve only read the first two-and-a-half books.

That’s right. I’ve not kept up on my Harry Potter reading over the past ten years. In fact, I probably know more about Harry and his adventures from the movies than the books, which is really not all that much, as I’ve only seen the first two movies (and from what I hear, with those as my only sources, I really don’t know Harry at all).

I don’t confess any of this with pride. After all, when was the last time a book (and not a movie or a sport or a phone) was all the rage? You would think someone like me, a big advocate for reading, would have been all over this series from the beginning, but somehow it never really took with me. I don’t know why, but about halfway through Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I just got bored.

Forgive me.

Lest you think I’m more evil than “He who must not be named,” let me try to redeem myself. I went to the release party last night. At midnight (I don’t do anything but sleep at midnight). And, not only did I go, but I woke my eight-year-old and we snuck out of the house to endure the hype (see picture above).

But, we didn’t buy a book. This had something to do with the fact that at least 1,300 other people were trying to, and also because we have all the books in paperback, so buying the hardback would really screw with our collection. Okay, maybe it seems a little weird (and antic-climactic) to go to a book release party without buying a book, but we did get close enough to touch one at least, as evidenced below.

Maddie "Borrowing" a Book

After we snapped the picture (it was about 12:10 a.m.), we left. It was enough hype for one night. As we walked across the full parking lot, my daughter asked me if I’d read all the books, to which I said I had not. She was a little surprised, but not shocked. As much as she knows I love to read, she’s figured out by now how very little I like hype. In her mind, she probably just figured the latter trumped the former in this case (trust me, it’s not the first time).

I asked my daughter if she wanted to read the books together. She said she’d think about it, but didn’t seem in too much of a hurry. I told her I’d start over from the beginning and re-read the first two-and-a-half I’d already read, but that didn’t change her answer. I think she was still processing everything she had just seen with the idea of reading seven books that her father hadn’t chosen to finish. When you’re eight, life is full of things that don’t always resolve.

Anyway, for those who did stand in line last night to get a book and are now reading away the weekend to find out what happens to Harry and company, give them my regards. Enjoy the time and don’t worry about spoiling the ending for me (after all, I had my chance, right?).

But please don’t think less of me for my lack of shared enthusiasm. For whatever reason, I want to care, but, well, I just don’t.

Unlike Harry, I am but just a Muggle after all.

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  1. Well, I guess if the power of Christ can break down the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile and between sinful humans and God and can unite us altogether in Him…then I guess a Harry Potter fan and a non-Harry Potter fan can remain friends. I forgive you brother. (But, does Jerram know?!)

    Seriously though, HP is worth another try. I’ve made the claim more than once that a compelling argument can be made that HP is the greatest work of children’s literature in English ever written. I know that’s a grand claim, and people might find reasons to disagree with it, but it’s not an absurd argument.

    As for us, we’d been planning for months to go to the release party. We attended the last two midnight release parties. But, when the time came, after a long, busy, and sleep-lacked week, we were just too exhausted. So, we’ll pick up our copy this afternoon. Hopefully I can find time to read the book soon so I can once again peruse the internet without fear of spoilers.

  2. Thanks for your gracious forgiveness, Nick. I didn’t say I hated the books or thought they were evil; only that I hadn’t read them all. I love J.K. Rowling’s rags-to-riches story in writing them, as well as the originality of some of her characters. Her storytelling involving them just didn’t do it for me, but I’m more than willing to give her another chance.

    Greatest work of children’s literature ever written? I’d have to think about it some before swallowing that one whole.

  3. O.k. I have got to confess. I was a Barnes and Noble employee for 4 years and I never got beyond page one of the first book. Sad, but true. Although I did work most of that 4 years in the music dept. so I have that excuse. Anyway, I enjoy working the Harry Potter release nights. It was good times.

  4. Blimey, Craig, how could you have time to read the Potter books in the middle of seminary and teaching and raising kids? Still, they are a true delight. This week I re-read 5 and 6 (good thing, since I’d forgotten some of the key points), and I headed to Costco this morning to get the last one. I’m about 250 pages in and it’s a blast. (And for a former Latin student, it’s fun to see the so-called dead language being used so heavily in the jinxes and such.)

    As for the movies, I’m not a fan.

    Do you think Mary is old enough to read the stories yet? I’m reluctant to let my kids read them until age 12 or so…

  5. We’ve told her she can if she wants to. She’s been carrying around the first one, but hasn’t done much with it besides look at the cover. If she actually starts, I’m going to read it too so we can talk about it as she goes. I think it is a little heavy for her just yet, but we’ll see. All the hype has her interested, but the sheer page numbers of the 7 books altogether is a bit daunting to her.

    She can tackle books like Narnia and such, but she’s still a Mr. Putter and Tabby girl at heart. :)

  6. Our 9-year-old would devour them if she could. Since she was 7, and after we’d read a couple of them for ourselves, we’ve let her read them. But, because of the devouring factor, we put a few conditions on it: (1) the first time through, we read them through together, either she and Mom or she and Dad, then (2) she is allowed to read the copy on her own that we’ve already gone through together, then (3) the book goes back on the shelf for awhile after a few days.

    I didn’t think I’d like them when I first started Book 1. But I, unlike whoever mentioned her storytelling above, think she is a marvelous storyteller with a wonderful imagination, in that can’t-put-the-book-down sort of way. Some of her books had storytelling problems… I thought the worst of the bunch was Book 4, in which there were whole chapters that could have been taken out, and the storytelling point condensed and put elsewhere.

    As far as age stuff with our kids, we did hold off on Books 5 and 6 for awhile, not for scariness because she’s not scared of anything! But because they get a bit darker as they go along… Harry was an edgy adolescent in Book 5… and in Book 6 the teenage snogging starts. We didn’t need her thinking about all of that kissing when the book first came out.

    Our 6-year-old is just plain not interested in any of it, perhaps in response to our oldest’s high interest… those sib’s have to set themselves apart any way they can, don’tcha know!

    We’ve really enjoyed the books and the movies, with ourselves and with our daughter. We’re reading through Book 7 all together as a three-some… it’s torture for the girls because Daddy, being the busiest in the fam, is the limiter. We’re only on Chapter 3!!

    And Madeleine thought Revenge of the Sith was much darker and scarier than HP5. She’s funny in that 9-year-old girl way about it, though… she thinks ROTS should have been rated PG-13 for “extreme sadness” for that scene toward the end when Anakin is dying before being carried off for reconstruction and Padme is dying in childbirth. She was fine with the rest of the movie.

  7. i’ve read and reread them, i’m almost of the same mind as nick, they are quite good in some ways better than the Narnia books, but don’t tell jerram i said that, but he likes them too.

    they are certainly more than kids books, once you get to 3 they get significantly darker as far as time to read them, you make time, i reread them all during exams this past may and it was great, helped me attend better to my studying.

    went and got the books at 1am downtown on release night and now we’re halfway through 7 and enjoying it, we got two so we wouldn’t fight over them.

  8. Hey, “Hans,” when you get finished with one of your two copies, I’ll be glad to take one off your hands. What do you need two for? Coasters?

  9. two so we don’t fight over them, but i said that in my post, and we don’t find out about what happened from anything other than the book
    you can have one of our copies when you read the first six

  10. Here’s another really good post on Harry and company. Also, here’s an interesting feature run on Beliefnet.

  11. I read the first HP book that came out. It is imaginative and somewhat entertaining, but are children without spiritual guidance from their parents being unduly influenced into the occult by such a thorough drenching into Harry Potter stories?

  12. Glad you read the book and enjoyed it. Not sure how to answer your question with any kind precision better than what my friend, Jerram, does in his article, so I would point you there for now (see comment number 7 above for the link).

    Personally, as the parent of an eight-year-old who just finished the first book yesterday, I resonate with your question as it raises what the issue with these (and any other books) really is: how do we help our kids process literature from a biblical worldview?

    As I’ve listened to my eight-year-old’s observations and retellings of her readings, it’s struck me anew how important it is that she already has an initial biblical worldview to bounce the story off of; otherwise, it would be very easy for the world of Harry Potter (or something else) to take its place.

    Like anything, without parents involved in helping kids process what they’re taking in, bad stuff can happen. More importantly, I think we’re called to teach truth on the front end so kids can use it as a means to interpret what they read. In being able to do this, it affirms what is truth and what is not, and this can build confidence that the truth they’ve been taught is truth that is both full of faith and reasonable.

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