Thursday, July 26, 2007

Harry Potter Comes Full Circle

Last night, just before turning out the lights, I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the conclusion of the seven-book Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. If you are tired of being Harry Pottered to death over the last few weeks, or if you don't like to read, or would rather hear me talk about something deeper, just surf on and come back tomorrow. But for now, I have some thoughts about Harry Potter and about reading in general.

First of all - no spoilers here. Part of the joy of reading is the expectation of surprise, and it's not my place to ruin that surprise for you. Not everyone thinks that way, of course. Yesterday I was at the Lenscrafters store getting fitted for my new glasses by a nice young man who noted what I was reading. One of his co-workers was listening to the conversation, and said that she couldn't stand not to know how a story ended...she always read the last four pages of any book first!

But back to Harry Potter. Ms Rowling's great triumph is that she has created an internally consistent, richly layered world that's an absolute joy to read, either to oneself or aloud. Wonderful names roll off your tongue (who can resist saying "Xenophilius Lovegood" or "Ottery St. Catchpole" out loud?), and marvelous descriptions of magical places, actions, and things rank with some of the best in literature. One of my favorite scenes in literature is J.R.R. Tolkien's description of the charge of the Rohirrim in The Return of the King, and Ms Rowling's descriptions of battles between wizards are every bit as grand.

If you enjoyed the Harry Potter series (and I don't know how anyone couldn't), try reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, another marvelous story of magic full of brilliant description and rich plotting. In particular, reading Ms Clarke's description of the enchanted, talking statues of York Cathedral is a wonderful experience.

If you are one of the narrow-minded persons who objects to the Harry Potter stories on religious grounds, I feel sorry for you. If you lack the sense of wonder and imagination to make the words come alive on the page and take you away to another world of adventure for a few hours, your life is sadly limited.

I strongly recommend you read the Harry Potter series. In fact, I strongly recommend you read everything you can get your hands on. You'll be dead for a long time...as long as you're alive, reading can help make that life richer and more enjoyable.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

1 comment:

Piccola said...

Well said!