21 July 2007

You're reading this? I figured everyone's reading Harry Potter!

It's the day half the world's been waiting for: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is out, and kids and adults everywhere are holed up in beds, on couches, and in sunny corners reveling in their last few hours at Hogwarts with Harry and company. My son is still a bit too young to read Harry Potter (he's busy devouring the Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine), but I so look forward to sharing those stories with him someday. I feel like he's got a treasure in his future -- the full Harry Potter series, unread, totally new. In fact, all the Harry Potter movies are off limits in our house until he's read the books...I want nothing to get in the way of the magical world that leaps from those pages.

My kids and I were on a plane last night, so no Harry Potter parties for us. But Dana at Mombian's in the spirit! See: Parent Hex: Harry Potter Spells for Parents. (She gets the award for the First Parent Hacks Pun.)

What about you? Are you lost in Potter-mania?

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Personally I cannot understand adults getting so excited & crazed about a childrens book. I glanced through one & found it not only quite average not not especially well written either.
I can understand reading a childs book to check it out before giving it to your child but adults are buying these for themselves.
Why not try an adult book & stretch your vocabulary & thoughts instead of taking an easy option that you hope will make you look "cool", it doesn't work you just look immature & rather lacking in intelligence

My husband and I have read each of the Harry Potter books aloud to each other, alternating chapters. Book four took the entire pregnancy of my second child. The books are captivating and, yes, well written. Amanda, indulge yourself and read one start to finish. While I understand that science fiction is not for everyone, if you enjoy the genre I do believe you will enjoy the books. Amazon.com should be delivering our copy today!

Oh, Amanda! I couldn't disagree more! How often can a parent and child share a bit of popular culture, each enjoying it on his or her own terms? We sometimes enjoy the same music or movies, but to enjoy a book series together...that's something more than just entertainment.

Besides, why should every book stretch our vocabulary? Pure fun has its value.

I still haven't gotten mine yet. I ordered it from Barnes and Noble a week ago, there are stacks and stacks sitting in a Wal-Mart just 5 minutes away waiting to be read!!! Wouldn't you know, the one time I pre-order anything. :-/

Also, Amanda, why don't you check out "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Phillip Pullman? I guarantee you'll re-think your opinion of children's books. Heck, the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is enough to make you change your mind about children's books

Last night my flight left Oakland Airport at 11:59pm. I was in the bookshop near my gate and a woman came in asking for the Potter book. There was much made of the fact that it was not allowed to be sold before midnight, but then the store owner got it out of the back to see if it would ring up. The store, it seems, closed at 11:30 and didn't want to miss out on the sale of the 50% over cover price book ($38). The woman walked back to her gate with reading materials for her flight which nobody else would be sharing...

Most people I know who read HP are avid readers of all sorts of books. To insinuate that one reads a book because of a low intelligence level or lack of maturity is insulting, and the disdain is off putting.

How wonderful it is that we aren't all exactly the same, and we all enjoy different things. Hopefully, our children can learn to be less judgmental.

My girls and I started the Harry Potter series when the first book came out, and have followed it through. We went to the first movie, the whole family sporting Harry Potter stuffed toys and paraphenelia. (They were much younger then) Now my girls, 15 and 16 aren't as interested in Harry as they once were, but fondly remember the family traditions of reading the books and watching the films -together- as a family. Far too often parents forget to show interest in what their KIDS do, which not only helps adults monitor what they're kids are into, but shows them that what THEY like is important, too.

my son didn't pony up his share of the hardback price ($20 more than the trade paperback) so I guess I'm waiting for the softbound .... whine.

My daughter read it from midnight to 7am. I read it after I got breakfast, etc done for the little kids from 9am to 9pm (interrupted by small kid needs) and now my son is 200 pages into it.

Kudos to Marcy -well put!! I went out at midnight to get the book and finished it this afternoon. I am a mom of two who are both too young to enjoy the books- but I can't wait until they can. Quite frankly to call Harry Potter "average and not well written" makes me think that you have either not read the books or are just narrow minded. Harry Potter has opened up a whole new world of reading to kids that previously would not read for anything. It takes something special to do that.

P.S. to all of you that love the "Harry Potter genre" - There is a newer series of books out that are a lot of fun. They have been compared to HP. I think they are not quite as deep as HP, but fun. The first book is called Fablehaven and the second is called Fablehaven and the Rise of the Evening Star. They are written by Brandon Mull. Look them up.

I finished reading Deathly Hallows late last night! I really enjoyed it and thought it was a great conclusion to the series. Be sure and check out Edith Nesbit's stories like Five Children and It and The Enchanted Castle, as she was a big influence on Rowling.

I DO get excited about children's books. Some of the best books out there are to be found in the children's lit. section; but I have to agree with Amanda that the first book, at least, was "not only quite average [but] not especially well written either".

I've been told that later book are better but it's from less than reliable sources. I'm afraid plot alone isn't enough to get me through a book. The movies, on the other hand . . .

BTW, the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was never intended to be children's lit ("The Hobbit" was) and I believe it represents some of the finest literature of the 20th century.

The quality of writing goes up fairly rapidly, the first one is ... well, IMHO, she needed a first class editor, and didn't get one. In my children's book writing discussion groups (I write professionally), there was much dissection of the really ... well, plain BAD writing style in the first book. BUT, the plotting was pretty tight, and so I carried on reading the next one, which benefitted from a better (more involved) editorial process, and she had apparently done a great deal more reading of her own in the meantime, so ... her skills improved.

Toward book 6, the editing slipped, again, but I think that's also common when there's a power issue between the editor and the author - there's no WAY they're not going to print book 5 or 6 at that point, so the author can push back harder. Not sure if that's what actually happened, at all, but it read like the editor again wasn't forcing things back through re-writes.

IMHO (and in the opinion of a lot of other writers), her plotting has always been tight, her dialogue improved dramatically over time (though she still over-relied on 'saying things adverbly' up through book 6), her characterization and character development improved.

She also continued to 'write up' - that is, she writes TO the age slightly below the current age of the main character. Which means the first book is really for 9 year olds, and the seventh is young-adult fiction. The depth and complexity of the relationships goes up with the ages accordingly, and the degree of ugliness in the world increases also.

Best books ever written? No. But very good, IMHO, and I write for a living. They're not everyone's cup of tea, but they do capture very nicely some challenging themes, and avoid a lot of the bland truisms that children's series tend to get stuck in - where the good are always good (and if they're bad they didn't mean it, it was an accident or a momentary lapse and NOT a character flaw), and the bad are easily dismissed once they are defeated, and nobody ever bumps into someone they grew up hating when they're doing some everyday task. I love that they have to live with the people they loved, liked, dismissed, tormented, hated, feared... year after year, they have to carry on with the same people, who are also growing up, and aren't the same construct day after day.

So, yeah, we went to the midnight party - It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, I suspect. I can't imagine another book coming along in the next decade that creates the same sort of furor. I took two of the four kids along, with my mom, and we all dressed up (I almost didn't, but there was a slim chance that I could have won the costume prize - which was first place in line to get the book, LOL! - of course, when we got there and saw the other costumes, I didn't even bother getting in line for the contest...). We chatted, watched the other crazies there with us, met old friends unexpectedly... lots of fun, relatively meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but a grand party anyway. I was done reading on Saturday, my husband is part-way through, and I'll start reading the full series to the kids again this week.

Did you know that you can teach your computer some of the Harry Potter spells using voice-activated commands?? Super cool. http://www.instructables.com/id/E0BE0YKF44CIHFE/

Months in advance of the book coming out, I arranged for a great friend of mine to come visit me so she could be the default babysitter of my 2 year old and myself and my husband could have a chance to read and probably finish the book over the weekend. It worked beautifully. I finished the book on Sunday, the kid had a great time with his "Aunt" and I got to sort of remember what it was like back in the old days when I could lose myself in a book for hours on end with nothing else to answer for.

I like the books because I like the story. I've been an avid reader since I was a child and into fantasy since I was a pre-teen. So for me, the magic has nothing to do with the hype, a low level of intelligence, or even wanting to share an experience with my kids (didn't have any when I started reading the series and he's way too young now). I just like the world, the feelings and knowing what happens.

Amanda,
I paused in the middle of my Shakespeare binge (which I started as a break from a year-long Trollope obsession) to read the new Harry Potter. So, no need to worry about my vocabulary!

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