Friday, August 17, 2012

Be A Nerd With Me (Or Why You Should Read Harry Potter)

It was 1999.  My father owned a flower shop.  Someone had left a big book at the shop and he brought it home to see if me or my sister wanted it.  It was called "Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire" and my sister decided to give it a shot.  (Yes, that's right, SHE STARTED AT THE FOURTH BOOK. I KNOW. IT'S INFURIATING!) 

She told me how great it was, so we picked up the first book and went to town. (I should mention that I was 13 and she was 18.)  Holy shit.  I fell head over heels for Harry Potter and I never, ever looked back.  

I ate up the first and second books like god damn Goldfish crackers.  Then I read the third book and I was blown away.  The twist!  The surprise!  And then the fourth book, so intense that it made me anxious and ended in the saddest, most unexpected way.  I couldn't believe how amazing it was.  A book.  About a wizard!  It was the first time I got attached to literary characters and the whole world.  I felt happy, anxious and upset.  Over fictional characters. 

The next few years were spent at midnight book releases (FOUR years I waited for that fifth book!) and midnight movie openings.  I was a total nerd and I didn't care.  And every time a book came out, I shut my phone off, took work off and holed up in my room with my sister and we'd read at the same time.  One year, I even hung out with two of my friends and we just sat in a room reading together.  

I just re-read them all this summer and I really want you all to read them, if you haven't read them before.  And if you have and are not as enamored as I am, well you have no heart or soul.  Here's my plea: 

1. It's not a children's book. Yes, the first two are very... tame.  In a sense.  But, the fourth-seventh are very dark and shit gets real.  Like, Hitler style real.

2. Harry Potter is about a young orphan boy who was raised by his aunt and uncle in England.  He always believed his parents died in a car crash.  But then, when he was eleven, he found out that he was a wizard and his parents were killed by a dark wizard by the name of Voldemort.  After finding this out, he was sent off to a wizarding school, Hogwarts. There is nothing realistic about that.  But the characters, stories, themes (of friendship, love, loyalty, war, etc.) are not only realistic, but very relatable.  No, wizards don't exist.  But, we do sometimes fight with our friends for dumb reasons.  And we do feel bad for being orphans.  (Yes, we all do.)  And we all want to drink Butterbeer because it sounds delicious. (Twilight, on the other hand... there is NOTHING realistic about that.  Vampires and werewolves aside, that love story is LUDICROUS.)

3. In the end, not all the good people survive.  There are a lot of difficult deaths to deal with.  And some of them were just a sacrifice for the greater good.  But, the good guys don't always win during a war.  And even when they do, it's not without tons of unfortunate sacrifices.  Boom. Realistic.  Sad and realistic.

4. The whole world of Harry Potter is so well thought out and detailed.  Everything ties together (there is even a throwaway character mentioned on the first page of the first book who isn't brought up until the very last book.)  It's amazingly well-written.  There are so many surprises and twists and turns and characters you love and lose and turn your back on and then trust again.  It's a whirlwind of emotion.  

5. They're just fucking good.  Read them.  Dummies.

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