Nostalgia

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

So in an attempt to cheer myself up by recalling a time when I loved being unemployed in my parents’ house all summer I picked up a copy of Harry Potter from the library. Even though I’ve probably read it at least 3 times somehow I still don’t actually own it. Sorry J.K.

It was as excellent as I remember it being. I now plan on reading the whole series again, but as previously mentioned I don’t own them and apparently my local library doesn’t have that many copies. It’s okay though because waiting on a hold list makes you enjoy the book more!

Of course, with my luck it will probably come in at the exact same time as Insurgent but anyway.

I guess a summary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a little unnecessary. Although nothing can replace the excitement of reading it for the first time, which was ruined for me anyway since I saw the first movie first, this is an excellent book to read twice, or four times in my case, because of the subtly of the story. I mean, did I notice the first time all the clues carefully laid out to help Harry, Ron and Hermione stumble to the Stone? I doubt it. But knowing how the story ended meant that every time she dropped a hint I got it and that was exciting. Also it made me feel smart, which is a thing that we talked a lot about when I was doing my undergrad degree, making the reader feel smart.

Okay, since this book is kind of iconic and well known to just about everyone I’m going to sit here and discuss whether or not it deserves to be, since there seems to have been some debate on this issue. Like the Hunger Games and Twilight and most best selling children’s lit, there always seems to be a few adults who complain that these books are not good enough for our children, that they’re not high enough quality or that they will fill little minds with dangerous or terrible ideas.

With Twilight, I happen to agree. I mean, Edward takes a piece out of Bella’s truck so she can’t go visit her other friends. How is that suppose to be seen as romantic instead of abusive?

But I did read the entire series and even enjoyed parts of them, when I was able to turn off the part of my brain that was horrified by the incredible imbalance of power in Edward and Bella’s relationship.

Anyway, Harry Potter. Without searching the internet for reasons why people think it’s bad for kids (again) I will just contradict the ones I remember from the last time I ran that Google search. One – that it’s not written very well.

To this I say: I was an English major. I have read a great number of the “classics” and enjoyed a higher percentage of them than the average person. Though they may be hailed as well written they are rarely easy to read. And that’s why no one does. So yes, Harry Potter isn’t exactly the kind of book that teaches you hilariously excellent words like “espacular” or contains so many inter textual references you have to have read an entire textbook of the classics to understand what just happened. On the other hand it’s fun to read. And I think that’s a good thing.

I’ve also heard that Harry Potter teaches kids that breaking rules is something to be admired and rewarded, among other things. Everyone was a child at one point so there’s really no excuses for assuming that somehow they don’t know the difference between a story and real life.

Plus, all good fiction lets us live lives we can’t or wouldn’t in some way or other. So run with it.

I also think I heard something somewhere about how it was sexist too. I proudly identify as a feminist but I don’t see that one. The hero is a boy that’s true, Hermione may technically be a sidekick but in my mind she is a truly excellent sidekick and a very genuine, female character. And there are loads of other strong, awesome or neat women characters. Lily Potter anyone? You don’t think dying to save your child could be considered the trait of a strong woman? Or really, just a strong person? ‘Cause I do.

Either way Hermione and Ginny are both way cooler than Bella.

Anyway, so Harry Potter is awesome. I want to be a wizard, probably more now than I did the last time I read it. And I’m looking forward to getting to the thicker, scarier ones with my more adult perceptions.

Should be good.

Last movie I watched: Oh God, I think it was the last Children of Dune movie. Again. Don’t judge!! It’s my favourite of them all. When Leto comes back to Ghanima – anyway, it’s awesome. I’ll watch something better soon.

Last TV show I watched: Saving Hope technically.

But I’d rather talk about Crash Course World History instead. This is because Crash Course World History is my new favourite thing! Other than chai lattes but there’s not that much to say about those.

Crash Course World History is a youtube series that comes out on Thursdays. It’s narrated by an awesome author/professional youtube blogger guy called John Green. This week it was about the Spanish Empire and the silver trade. Maybe it’s because I’m a huge nerd and just really love history, particularly an intelligent, complex reading of it but I thought it was awesome!!

Here (if you want): http://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse  

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6 thoughts on “Nostalgia

  1. SC says:

    An excellent post! WHY DON’T YOU OWN THESE?! Agree with your points about the high value of Harry Potter (which I also quite enjoy) and extremely unhealthy role model that is Bella of Twilight (but then you know how much respect I have for that “book”).

    A thought on rule-breaking in HP: the trio are punished for rule-breaking in HP by teachers (McG deducted oodles of points, detentions), parents (the HOWLERS), and karma (Hermione half-cat) when breaking the rules for a bad or wishy-washy reason. THey usually escape punishment only when they broke the rules in pursuit of saving the day. Sometimes rule-breaking is necessary and ok if done for the right reason.

    What HP critics miss is that it also talks about and rewards standing up to your family (dursleys) and friends (Neville against trio) when they are wrong, defending the weak from bullies (Various from Malfoy) , helping empower others (defence class in DA) pursuing justice (against the BAD guys), tolerating difference (Luna) and standing up to abusive authority (Umbridge).

    I honestly think it is one of the best kids books to become stupidly popular in recent times. While I may agree that the writing is perhaps sub-par at some points (omg how many groaning tables can there be!) HP is a solid, educational, love-of-books inducing good time!

    Thanks for appreciating it!

    SC

    • devonkw says:

      I agree with everything there.
      If I ever actually get a job, I promise my first pay check will go to buying the Harry Potter books and Chuck. Which is my other other new favourite thing. Also, Western saddles.

      I just started reading the second book in another children’s series – Ranger’s Apprentice by Something that starts with a J Flanigan. I’m enjoying the story but the writing is making J.K. Rowling look like Shakespeare. I’m starting to worry that maybe compared to a lot of other stuff for the same audience she IS a great writer.

      Also, rules are hard. I mean, sometimes I speed which at this point I don’t even consider breaking a rule unless I get a ticket. Kids break rules too, all the time. My sister used to hit me and I’m sure that wasn’t allowed. I hit her too.
      Harry Potter is a great way for kids to think about rules.

  2. Lydia (American you met at Keele!) says:

    Hi, I’ve been reading your blog (skimming over some discussion of books I haven’t read but might want to in the future) and I think it’s awesome! Also, I don’t watch nearly as much John and Hank Green as I should, because they’re awesome, too!

    • devonkw says:

      Lydia who I met at Keele!
      You are a cool person. I also think you work in a library?
      If I ever finish reading the Wheel of Time books (unlikely) I will blog them too and you can try to convince me they are good.

      • SC says:

        Oh good grief! Don’t subject yourself to Wheel of Time! The first 2 are misleadingly good… as in they hook you, but everything after (except maybe book 5/6 can’t remember which is halfway decent) is torturously bad female characters (AND male fantasy threesomes), repetitive, shallow and BORING.

        Moreover he has 20 characters off doing separate things all over the place, none of which you have time to become involved in because the sheer number of events going on simultaneously results in you not having more than 10 pages together with the same person/plot. It reads with all the continuity of a newspaper… only it’s little snippets of unfinished stories mishmashed together.

        Overall I am a big fan of world-building sagas. I remember being enthused by the complex world in books 1 and 2 and steadly disenchanted over the next 8 until finally divorcing the series (with some bitterness evidently) somewhere in the vicinty of book 10. So much wasted potential.

        Spare yourself the agony…

        SC

        PS. Chuck and Western saddles are awesome! Not sure what Ranger’s Apprentice is, but guess I won’t be reading it. 😉

      • devonkw says:

        I know! I think I got as far as book 6 but I’m not sure. Whatever. It’s not like there was plot to get confused about.
        There was as much potential in the Wheel of Time series as any other fantasy but it got too long, too complicated and had way to many characters. Which can sometimes work out okay but his were very, very shallow and only got shallower as it went on.

        Also, all the women characters offended my feminism.

        Not unlike Ranger’s Apprentice actually. But for adults.

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