Finally reading some book about a kid wizard - maybe you've heard of it?

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So unlike what seems to be the entire rest of the world, I was never a big fan of Harry Potter. I never read the books, and while I picked up all the movies on DVD, none of them really did anything for me. I've seen the first four movies, and I couldn't tell you what happened in one movie versus another. They were all just... meh.

Two weeks ago I decided to give the books a try. I figured since all seven books were released that if I did end up liking it, I could blow through the entire series without waiting.

A few days ago I finished book one, and I have to say - I'm really surprised. The book was wonderful. Not only was the book wonderful, I watched the first movie again and I'm impressed with how good of a job they did. I definitely appreciate the movie more now that I've read the book. As for the book itself - there is something just... I don't know - innocent about it - that makes for great reading. In fact, that's my only real concern with the series. I hear that it gets much more dark and intense as he grows (which is to be expected), and I just hope that some of the charm that I loved from the first book isn't completely lost.

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Kebab Dylan posted on 8/6/2007 at 4:42 PM

Yes, the books grow up with the kids, become increasingly darker. I personally really liked the progression. Book 6 and 7 are really just fantastic. I think one reason they are so good is that they incorporate both the fantasy world full of cute words and terms and silliness (ie. children' story element) and extremely rich characters and the narrative depth of serious literature.

Comment 2 by Todd Rafferty posted on 8/6/2007 at 5:24 PM

Book 4 is where things start to turn darker, but in a good way.

Comment 3 by DK posted on 8/6/2007 at 6:04 PM

IMHO the movies have been like a slideshow to the book, and I can't understand how people who never read the books would get a lot of it... especially in the latest movie oferring. They gloss over, change, and forego so much backstory and in some cases change it all for time constraints. One of the big ones is quidditch. It has such a profound effect and influence on the protagonist and the past 2-3 movies have completely ignored it and changed the story around ignoring it. Seems kind of weird.

Comment 4 by Robert Owen posted on 8/6/2007 at 6:27 PM

I didn't start reading the books until the 4th one had been released.... There is something about the books that really keeps me going. I mean , for me, they are very hard to put down once I get started. I tell myself I'm going to quit for the night after this chapter then end up going on and on...

I think you will enjoy them... And if you like to listen to books, these are great for that.. I've always been a little disappointed with the movies as compared to the books. I kind-of feel like they should be considered "an arrangement" (to borrow a musical term) rather than "the story"

Comment 5 by Edward T posted on 8/6/2007 at 6:32 PM

@DK:

Granted, but I often wish that screen adaptations were developed with less of an eye toward the original book and more toward a cohesive story. I just don't think it is possible or advisable to try to turn even a 300-page book into a 2-3 hour movie and do it justice.

I *just* saw the fourth movie, and was very disappointed with how disjointed the narrative was. I haven't read the books (beyond the first), and I agree with you that I don't get a lot out of the films. But I could have--had the screen writers and directors made a firm decision in the beginning to make a story -based- on the characters and plot of the book.

I suppose that's a tricky question when artistic egos are on the line, and the purists are an important part of your audience....

/ejt

Comment 6 by Damien McKenna posted on 8/6/2007 at 6:59 PM

Another big fan here. My wife and I read all of the books out loud together so that we'd get to share the enjoyment - it was a great experience to do that. We really love the books and wish they'd put more effort into retaining more of the books' details in the movies - I think the fans would have been just fine with 3+ hour movies.

Comment 7 by John Ramon posted on 8/6/2007 at 7:07 PM

Ok I just want to through my thoughts into this one since I just finished books 6 and 7. While I must admit I didn't read them myself I listened to the audio books as read by Jim Dale. If you have not heard him read a Harry Potter book I suggest you try it out. I know an audio book is not reading but when working in the basement it's great to hear it as I work. Jim Dale holds the worlds record for voices and if your imagination is any good it's like watching the book blind. Thats the best way I can describe it.

Also his voices sound alot like the voices in the movie (most anyway) so it's really easy to follow the story.

I only sold out to audio books because I work so much I don't have time to sit down and read a book.

Comment 8 by Brian Kotek posted on 8/6/2007 at 9:11 PM

Ray, to give you an idea of how good the rest of the series is, I actually think the first book was the worst one (which is saying a lot because it's a good book).

Comment 9 by Sean Corfield posted on 8/6/2007 at 9:37 PM

I agree with Brian that the first book is also the worst and that the series improves with each book.

As for the editing in the movies... well, how do you expect to turn a 700-800 page book into a movie and retain every story element? What do folks want? Five hour movies?

The last few books I've read as they came out, putting my life on hold for 24 hours and doing nothing but reading (and eating and a little sleeping :) They're great books.

Comment 10 by Rob Rawlins posted on 8/6/2007 at 9:44 PM

Am I the only person on the earth that doesnt 'get' harry potter?

Its wierd, It makes me feel confused, everyone around is talking about how incredible it is and some even seem to devote thier lives to following it, but when I think about it, read or watch it I just sort of go .. 'meh' on the inside.

Its not that I dont like it, it just provokes no kind of emotion what so ever within me.

Am I broken?

Rob

Comment 11 by Robert Owen posted on 8/6/2007 at 9:56 PM

@ Sean - Well.... 5 hour movies would be a bit much... But, longer movies are not unheard of.. You know, when you read something that entertains you, you get a strong mental impression on what's going on visually.. And when it is translated into film and the "actual" visual differs from your own... well... You tend to notice the discrepancies between the two mediums even more.

@Rob - Nope, not broken... I have several friends who feel the same way you do.

Comment 12 by Lola LB posted on 8/6/2007 at 10:11 PM

What took you so long? ;-) Yes, the books get darker and darker, but it's for a "good" reason, to advance the plot further. And there are a lot of allegories to discover, if you know you literature and history well. The series is good because there's so many levels to read at - for simple pleasure, to see how the characters develop and grow, to see what the author has drawn on from her literature and history knowledge. I would put her on the same level as C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. There aren't too many authors nowdays who can write that way, unfortunately.

Comment 13 by Sean Corfield posted on 8/6/2007 at 11:27 PM

@Robert, yeah, I just watched The Magnificent Seven (2hrs 9mins) and Kurosawa's original Seven Samurai (3hrs 29mins) and, for the most part, the latter did not feel overly long. But modern cinema audiences don't have that attention span for the most part ;)

Comment 14 by Lola LB posted on 8/6/2007 at 11:45 PM

I love those movies, Sean. Have you seen Rashomon? Kurosawa was really goo at making those samurai movies.

Comment 15 by Sean Corfield posted on 8/7/2007 at 12:01 AM

No, Lola, we haven't seen Rashomon so it's now at the top of our Netflix queue (along with all the other Kurosawa movies we were already planning to watch!)

Comment 16 by jeff posted on 8/7/2007 at 1:38 AM

@Rob -- If you're broken...that makes two of us.

First of all, I'm thrilled that someone was able to write a series of books that got many children and adults alike, who aren't "readers" to read.

Second, I think Rowling is a very imaginitive person with a very accessible writing style.

My issue with these stories that has kept me from getting into them (and I AM a reader) is that the stories just don't resolve very well. I will admit that I only ready through book 3 and saw a couple of the movies, but it always seemed like the turning point and resolution of the story (or climax and deneoument for you literary buffs) were totally random and made no sense (e.g., resurrected bird and flying car). I guess I just like a story that when it all unravels, I can look back and say "I totally should have seen that coming because of the subtle foreshadowing and clues". It didn't seem like HP had any of that. It was always just dumb luck that got this naive, disobedient kid out of a jam.

I know, I probably shouldn't even start with such a sacred cow, especially since I only got to book 3, but that's my beef. Nobody has to agree with me. Any if you want an example of what I'm talking about, read a few classics, like The Count of Monte Christo or Les Miserables. Now those guys knew how to unravel a story.

Comment 17 by John Ramon posted on 8/7/2007 at 1:46 AM

@jeff I felt the same way you did by book three, but I kept reading. By book 5 stuff stated to connect and the last 2 books where the best, The last book really puts it all together.

Comment 18 by Tony Garcia posted on 8/7/2007 at 4:54 AM

I guess I'm with the minority here -- never read one of the books and have no desire to do so. Don't even really have a good reason. In fact, the more it grew into a craze, the less I wanted to join in.
It's kind of like a few years ago, when I had my heart set on going to Las Vegas because I've never been. But then it seemed like 6 of my co-workers went to Vegas on vacation in the span of 3 months or so and that completely quelled my desire to go. Guess I'm kind of weird that way.

Comment 19 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/7/2007 at 4:59 AM

@Tony - I'd give it a shot. I was definitely in the same minority, but now I'm glad I picked it up.

I've read 3 chapters of book 2 and I'm loving every minute of it.

Comment 20 by Jason Tailsman posted on 8/7/2007 at 5:56 PM

Only stubborn elitists refuse to bow to the power that is in the Potter books.

It's an innocent emotional world that will have a grown man sobbing in the bitter sweet end.

Comment 21 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/7/2007 at 6:02 PM

Hey now, no comments on the ending.

Currently on chapter 5 or so of Book 2. Loving it.

Comment 22 by luis matthews posted on 8/7/2007 at 7:17 PM

So I shouldn't tell you that Dumbledore is really Harry's dad in disguise?

Just kidding Ray. ;^) Couldn't help myself.

Comment 23 by Charlie Arehart posted on 8/7/2007 at 10:19 PM

Well, for the appropriate Star Wars allusion (in deference to Ray) it would need to be Voldemort who was Harry's dad, right? :-)

Comment 24 by Damien McKenna posted on 8/7/2007 at 10:30 PM

And Hermoine is his sister, Ron a hardened merc, and Delores Umbridge eq Jabba The Hutt?

Comment 25 by Charlie Arehart posted on 8/7/2007 at 10:44 PM

My wife and I are also avid listeners to the Emmy-winning Jim Dale audio reading, and just got ours for 7.

On a more serious note (dare I go there as a comment here?), of course a common concern many have is that the book/series seems occultic and to promote witchcraft, even asserting that it's patently anti-Christian.

I've never understood that, and I'm a seminarian studying reformed theology. :-) For those interested in the subject, I can share something from a very conservative Christian magazine. It's a recent (post-book 7) and even-handed article on the subject:

http://www.modernreformatio...

Since it's on the site of a magazine (Modern Reformation) which I respect greatly, from the folks who do the White Horse Inn podcast which I listen to avidly, I'm really glad to see this perspective shared there.

I also appreciated his bringing in connections with Tolkien, CS Lewis, Chaucer...and even a casual Monty Python reference slipped in there! :-)

I agree with his conclusion, that the books are not as bad as some would portray. Not perfect, but then we can't expect that from the hand of man anyway.

The really sad thing is that many who hold such a negative opinion about the books choose not to read them. Kind of like those who bash CF but have never (or not recently) used it. Hard to share an educated opinion then.

Comment 26 by Sean Corfield posted on 8/7/2007 at 10:59 PM

It's worth noting that there are serious spoilers in that article - but it's a very good article and, as Charlie says, good to see not all Christians hold the books low regard. As a non-Christian, I find it frustrating when religious people rant and rage about something that they haven't even read / seen (since the same goes for films).

As Charlie says, we don't like it when folks do the same to ColdFusion!

Comment 27 by Charlie Arehart posted on 8/7/2007 at 11:07 PM

Oh, very good point, Sean, about the spoilers. Sorry I didn't warn of that.

I caught the first (about Dobby, will leave it at that), and then when I saw it getting too deep into details I kind of grazed past, so didn't notice any others. I was bummed to read that one, but knew that it wouldn't kill my enjoyment of the book. If there were others more serious, then yes, be warned folks.

My apologies. Let it stand for after you read it, or to share with those who won't bother! :-) They'll not remember the spoilers if/when they get into the books.

Comment 28 by Brian Kotek posted on 8/7/2007 at 11:11 PM

The fact that this is even an issue is really sad (I'm biting my tongue hard here).

Comment 29 by Damien McKenna posted on 8/7/2007 at 11:12 PM

Amusingly my wife reading potential spoilers online upset me more than an actual spoiler we read as I then spent some time wondering whether it was true or not. Ultimately book 7 took so long to read (two days, reading it out loud) that I'd forgotten, but still..

Comment 30 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/7/2007 at 11:13 PM

Can we just avoid _any_ talk that even says the word spoiler? I'm now at a point where I don't even want to read my own comments. ;)

Comment 31 by Charlie Arehart posted on 8/7/2007 at 11:18 PM

Brian, are you referring to the concern some have over possible sharing of spoilers? or the whole "is the book a satanic indulgence" debate?

Don't bite too hard. It's an awfully important muscle. :-)

Comment 32 by John Ramon posted on 8/8/2007 at 12:56 AM

Ok everyone lets not upset Ray, keep reading Ray well be here.

Comment 33 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/17/2007 at 2:54 PM

Just started reading B3. Still absolutely loving it. This weekend I'll be watching M2 again.

Comment 34 by Raymond Camden posted on 8/27/2007 at 2:03 AM

Finished B3 about 10 minutes ago. Earlier today I picked up books 4-7 because - and I kid you not - I was worried about finishing a book and not having the next one ready. I'll be watching the 3rd movie on DVD in a bit. It's funny - I remember watching the 3rd movie now and falling asleep at parts and just being confused. Now it all makes sense.

Comment 35 by Robert Owen posted on 8/27/2007 at 3:00 AM

It's really good reading them back to back like you are... Think about all of us who got wrapped up in them when they were coming out and having to wait two years between each book.

Comment 36 by Raymond Camden posted on 9/23/2007 at 8:30 PM

Just finished B5. I'm now going to movies. By some stroke of luck, M5 is still playing here, and I'll get to see a HP movie at the theater.

I cannot describe how much I'm enjoying these books. While they aren't the "coolest" SciFi/Fantasy books (China Mievelle wins there) nor is it the best writing I've seen (easily Milan Kundera), but I think these are probably the books that have been the most fun, exciting, and, ok, I'm gushing now so I'll stop.

Is it obvious I'm addicted? I'm leaving with the kids in 30 for the movies, but as soon as I catch up on email I'm going to get a few pages of B6 read.

Comment 37 by Robert Owen posted on 9/24/2007 at 5:06 AM

How did you like the Movie... I was a little disappointed but I sill thought it was very good.

Comment 38 by Raymond Camden posted on 9/24/2007 at 9:37 AM

Both the last two movies were fun - but REALLY miss out on the emotional subtlety that you get in the books. But - I figure they have to make _some_ sacrifices when moving an 800 page book to screen.

I read almost a 100 pages today. I should be on B7 by MAX, which means for the first time I'll actually be returning to my room early. ;)

Comment 39 by Raymond Camden posted on 9/30/2007 at 2:33 AM

I finished B6 on the flight up. Wow. I won't say much as I think there are some folks subscribed here who haven't read that far - but wow.

For the first time - when I got to the hotel I didn't check email first - instead I read the first few pages of B7.

Comment 40 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/7/2007 at 7:50 AM

Wow, I wrote this post on August 6th, and on October 6th I finished the series. I heard that the ending was very well done and I definitely have to agree. I'll keep my comments vague so as to not spoil anything. I am very - very happy I read this series. I've said it in my last few comments, but the books really gave me a lot of happiness and that makes them priceless to me. I'm actually thinking of rereading them next summer. (Or at least B1, which is still my favorite.)

Comment 41 by Robert Owen posted on 10/8/2007 at 5:58 AM

I'm glad you enjoyed it... My wife and I read them over again every now and again and they are still very good each time.

Have you read Eragon and Eldest? They are very long books but they are very good as well.. If you saw the movie.. it is very different from the book.

Comment 42 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/8/2007 at 6:07 AM

Saw Eragon - but haven't read it. I'll add it ot my list of books to read. Right now I've got about 20 (seriously) books from the wishlist I need to catch up on. :)