The week prior to my vacation to DisneyWorld, I was listening to the NPR show "Wait, wait, don't tell me" and there was a reference to Voldemort. Now, I knew enough about the Harry Potter universe to know who Voldemort is. I read the first book back in 2000 and watched the first movie back on DVD back in 2002. But, for some reason, Harry Potter fell off my radar. Why? I can't really say. I mean, it's right up my alley. But, for some unknown reason, I never continued with the series.
The reference to Voldemort brought laughter from the panel and the audience and a thought struck me: I'm out of the loop. I am missing a common cultural connection with millions of other folks. [I don't watch American Idol and miss those cultural connections, too, but that does not bother me.] I have kept up, vaguely, with the books of Harry Potter. I knew that book 7, Deathly Hallows, is coming out on P-Day, 21 July 2007. I knew the titles of all seven books and, well, I made a decision: why not read books 1 through 6 before 21 July and then be able to join in all the fun of reading book 7 with the rest of the world? Plus, I didn't want to know the ending before reading the entire series. You could say this is me jumping on the Harry Potter bandwagon and, well, you'd be right.
And, what better place to start the series than in
About halfway through book one--about the time Harry found out he was a wizard--I remembered how much fun these book are. And I got riveted by Harry Potter. It helps that book 1 was around 300 pages. Blew through that one in a week. I already owned book 2, Chamber of Secrets, so I started it the Sunday after I returned from
Another thing that has enabled me to blaze through these books is the audiobook versions of these stories. Before I left for
Another good thing is that movies 1-4 are out on DVD now. So, as I finished one of the books, I watched the film. It helps to solidify things in my head. And, seeing the actors age helps me remember that the characters are aging, too.
A couple of interesting things about reading a series like this over weeks with all six books at my disposal rather than the way the books were published, with years between books. The obvious one is that as soon as I finish a book, I can pick up the next one. No wait whatsoever. Pretty cool, that. To be honest, after finishing book 2, I thought "Well, now, I read those pretty quickly. And I have until 21 July to read just four more books. Why don't I read something else?" That lasted less than a chapter of the 'something else' until I put that book down and read three chapters of book 3. It hooks you, it really does.
It is also fun to relate to two of my friends who have already read all six books where I am in the series. One likes to smile knowingly and give me cryptic hints, just like Rowling. The other can't wait until "I'm caught up" so we can have a good gab session about what to expect in Book 7. I imagine that they are 're-reading' the books as I read them for the first time.
A word about Rowling: I am a writer. I have written my first novel and am now writing my second. Rowling is a fantastic writer. Her prose is rich with ebullient emotion. The characters jump off the page. And she keeps things so close to the vest that when a secret is revealed, it is a joy. And everything is so tied together. By the time I'm reading book 4, I *know* that nothing is by-chance. So I pore over every detail.
And, finally, a word about Jim Dale, the reader of all the audiobook versions. (One note: with my commute and my home life, audiobooks is my primary medium for reading books. I listen to a lot of them.) I don't think I have ever heard a better reader who digs in and gets behind all the characters with his voice. He inhabits these characters and this world bringing it all to life.