This is the first in what I hope will be a series about books I obsess about, but are too involved to recap. I refuse to recap HP books so that the magic for you won’t be spoiled when you actually read the book.
I refer to Harry Potter quite a bit in my previous blog entries and simply assumed you, reader, knew of his awesomeness. HP is such a genius series that quite often, I compare books to HP without realizing it. Some people don’t understand the HP appeal. This gushing session, and future gushing sessions, will try to explain why I go back to certain books, time and time again.
Why I love Harry Potter:
- You can find something new every time you read it. Book one hints at things in book seven, but you don’t realize it until you re-read it. For example, Sirius Black is an important character mentioned in passing in book one, chapter one. It’s enjoyable to read without looking for anything, but you can look forever and find new things in each book hinting at other things.
- I hear a lot of Christians complain about Harry Potter because it’s witchcraft. Sure, on the surface. But read this line about Dumbledore says about Lily Potter: “Your mother died to save you. If there’s one thing Voldemort doesn’t understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.” Argue all you want about witchcraft and Dumbledore’s (celibate!!) homosexuality, but as a Christian, I can see lots of parallels.
- Along with Christian parallels, it’s interesting to see the dates and how they work in the novel. The books take place from 1991-1997. They refer to Dumbledore defeating Grindlewald fifty years before. So, when the “Muggle world” was facing the evil of Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini, the Wizarding world was facing the dark wizard Grindlewald. ALSO, the seventh book echoes the Holocaust in Voldemort’s persecution of “Mudblood” wizards. If you’re a history and literature lover, you can’t help but enjoy good lit that takes its cues from history without it being overt.
- As a lover of words and names, I love that all the names mean something. For example, Luna Lovegood: she has a heart of gold, can always find something to love in people, but boy, is she crazy (“out of this world” loony, perhaps?)! Voldemort means “flight from death.” Dumbledore, on the other hand, is Old English for “bumblebee.” She just saw him humming down the hallway.
- The character Severus Snape. He is constantly fascinating and one of the most complex characters I’ve ever read, and you never know whether he’s good or bad until the very end.
- I could read and discuss this book with my mother and with my nephew (who, at the time of the seventh book release, was 12.)
- You’re going with Harry from age 11 to 17. He goes from innocent, sweet kid to hormonal teenager to a young adult with a goal, and it’s totally believable. I remember the summer I started reading the series, a girl at work was reading the most recent at the time, book 5. She let me know, “I hate Harry in this book. He’s kind of a jerk.” No wonder, he’s 15 and the world’s against him– literally AND figuratively! So, HP helped two people pass a summer at a dry cleaner’s.
I can’t think of all the reasons I enjoy this series, but I’m totally open to gushing more later. 🙂
Class Stuff (why not?):
Grades: Depends on which book. I think you can put books 1-3 in an advanced 3rd grade classroom and above. Books 4-5 I’d put in 5th and 6th (and above). Books 6-7 I’d maybe put in 7th and above. I wouldn’t hand the whole series over to a kid at once unless he’s older and is starting the series at age 14. Books 4-7 are kinda grisly, and involve a lot of death. Now, I’m a bit evil. I want to split up the books simply because I was tortured by the midnight releases, etc. Those poor kids being deprived of the cultural phenomenon of waiting forever for the next one! I’m not too set on these boundaries.
Grade: A+. I go back and re-read the series (or a book or two from the series) almost once a year. Just when I think I know everything, I read something new.
Favorites: I suppose I shouldn’t have a favorite. Honestly, all the books are fantastic. But, if I had to pick one (or two) for a flight, or something:
The Prisoner of Azkaban (book 3) is the most joyful book of the series, and I love reading it. Also, the third movie is probably the most faithful to the books in my opinion.
The Half-Blood Prince (book 6) is worth re-reading multiple times. Dumbledore makes Harry do his research on Voldy’s past in order to have a fighting chance against him. While it’s not joyful, we see a determined change in Harry, and we finally understand all the implications of being “the Chosen One.”