Harry Potter re-readathon: The Order of the Phoenix

9781408855935_309037Phew. We are past my problem book. That’s a relief. The sense of relief I felt when I closed Goblet of Fire was paled only by the excitement of finally being able to read further into the series. I had waited years for this moment.

It was actually quite daunting. What if I didn’t like it? What if I’d built it up so much in my head that nothing I could read would compare to that build up? Had I ruined it for myself? I’d watched my friends fall in love with the last few books and I was so worried that I had missed it, that somehow by not reading them when they came out my enjoyment of them would cease to exist before it had even considered existing. Luckily, I was worrying for nothing.

I love the later books in this series. Even if I do get a little frustrated with Harry. But what’s a bit of frustration between friends, eh?

This book has a special place in my heart for one main reason: we actually find out what’s happening by way of prophecy. Before this book, each story seemed more separate. Goblet of Fire led us to this, and Order of the Phoenix dumped us head first into the crux of the story.

We lost even closer friends than Cedric, and our hearts were all but ripped out of our chests. (Just you wait… I could hear the pages whispering to me as I read. I knew what was coming, of course but that’s for later entries.) J.K. Rowling, I have realised, is ruthless. Maybe not the upfront kind of ruthless, but a quiet kind that sits in the back until just the right moment. That kind.

I cannot write this post without mentioning Dumbledore’s Army. This book is a gift because it gave us Dumbledore’s Army. A group of young people who want to learn, who want to defend themselves and who are afraid but don’t let that fear get in their way – a lesson we could all learn from. We get to see a lot more of the supporting characters in these scenes, which brings me to my next reason that this book is a gift. Luna Lovegood. Little Luna, lovely Luna. There is nothing I dislike about Luna, she is my tiny fave, and she should be protected at all costs. The fact that she is in Dumbledore’s Army is so lovely and poignant, especially considering she doesn’t have many existing friends that we know of – not that that bothers her. It is heartwarming to see her being accepted.

There is a third reason that this book is a gift (I know, three reasons in one book – I could list more, don’t tempt me), and that is sassy!McGonagall. I love McGongall. She is easily my favourite teacher, and not-so-easily my favourite adult character (alongside Molly Weasley).

Even though the story takes a dark turn, we still get humour in the scenes with McGongall and Umbridge (I do not like Umbridge), and for that I am thankful.

Harry Potter re-readathon: The Chamber of Secrets

The Chamber of SecretsHoo boy, I was supposed to post these every week for seven weeks, since I read the whole series in about 14 days. But alas, life happened, as it often does, but I have resolved to be more regular in my blog updates and book reviews and various other things. So I am posting this from the past. Hooray for queued posts! Anyway…

The Chamber of Secrets was never my favourite. Possibly because it sits between the first book (much excitement because it’s the start of the series) and the third which, until recently, was always my favourite. It’s pretty hard, then, for the book between those two to be quite as exciting. That said, it does have the joy that is Gilderoy Lockhart and his failure at life. (Or perhaps it’s not a failure, not until the obliviate mishap anyway.)

Though it was never my favourite, Riddle and the diary always fascinated me. I loved the idea of having a book that could interact with me, and I mean really interact with me, not a choose your own adventure or an enhanced ebook type deal. A really real book, which really did talk to me and respond to my words and actions. Who doesn’t want a book that tailors itself to them and them alone?

I often ignored the fact that the diary was evil. Or rather, I didn’t care that it was evil, I just thought it was cool.

Now that I am older, wiser, and more dashing (the crowd sniggers), I see it in a different way, even though I would  still like a really real interactive book. I can see now how creepy and twisted the Riddle in the diary is, and how much that scarred Ginny (especially when it is mentioned in later books). There are all sorts of mental manipulation techniques in the Potterverse and arguably this is the worst. Especially when you consider the life-sucking part.

Shudder.

I can now see what little-me overlooked, the ever so subtle setting up of the latter half of the series, though if older me hadn’t already known about horcruxes, I never would have guessed what relevance the diary would have had to future events. At first the series was seemingly less connected, the first three books had clear openings and endings and most things were left resolved, excepting the looming threat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, but once you go through them again, you see that it isn’t quite as cut and dry as it at first seemed. I like that. I like that a lot.

Harry Potter re-readathon: The Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone  2For Christmas, along with (I presume) many thousands of other people, I received the beautiful complete box set of all of the Harry Potter books with lovely illustrated covers by Jonny Duddle. I can’t lie to you, at this point I want every single box set of Harry Potter books there is in existence because they are all glorious but that is another post entirely.

Since Christmas, on my daily commutes and when I have been walking past the often crowded lunch table at work, I have been seeing so many, many people reading Harry Potter. It is beautiful. Naturally, as I have now got all of the books with matching designs (if they don’t match, it’s very hard to concentrate), I’ve been reading them too!

There is something great about nostalgic re-reads, especially if you haven’t read a book since around the time it came out, like me. I think the last time I read The Philosopher’s Stone was the year that The Goblet of Fire was released. Almost sixteen years ago. When I was 9. Good lord. Since then I’ve watched the film countless times, it’s so easy to forget things that weren’t included in the film when you haven’t read the book since you were 9.

Like Professor Binns, who I forgot existed entirely, and the fact that Dumbledore is at one point seen sporting a bonnet. A bonnet. (This is an image I definitely plan to doodle.) And the entirety of what happens in the novel before Harry is dropped off outside the door of number 4 Privet Drive.

What I did remember, however, was my first experience with the world of Harry Potter, which I may have mentioned before. Read aloud by a wonderful primary school teacher with a wonderful name (Ms. Chodyniecki) who read each character using a different voice. Hagrid’s was my favourite. I am also pretty sure that the aforementioned teacher stuck a plastic Halloween witch’s finger to the end of a stick and used it to point at things on the board – excellent tactic.

I am now on book three of my re-read (blogs will appear for each book, hoorah!), I want to speed through them but I am forcing myself to take it slowly and give it the time it deserves – who knows what other memories it could unearth. Now, at a nearly ripe 25 years of age (just over a month until that milestone), I am enjoying the Harry Potter books more than ever and if any of you out there, in the great beyond of the internet, haven’t read them in a very long time, I would highly recommend you do so too!