Sunday, July 6, 2014

My summer with Hogwarts: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

The first Harry Potter book came out in the U.S. in September 1998. I was 16 at the time, and even then I was a voracious reader. But the Harry Potter hype was lost on me. I wasn't into fantasy stories. Just about every book I read had to be based in reality. I couldn't wrap my head around books like this.

I didn't get why people were so excited about a book. Also, I think this series brought on the start of midnight release parties. Waiting up until midnight for a book? I love books, but there is no way I'm staying up late to get a book. That's what online shopping is for!

Fast forward 15-plus years later, I now work for a children's publisher in NYC and I'm two semesters away from getting my Masters in book publishing. I can no longer ignore the phenomena that is Harry Potter. This summer, I vowed to read the entire series. A daunting task! I've owned the hardcover boxed set for more than a year, so no time like the present to read the books. I don't think I will finish all seven by the end of the summer, but I want to give it a try. It will most likely take me until the end of the year to finish all seven.

I'm not sure what I could add to the discussion about Harry Potter. The series has been part of the book publishing lexicon since the first one came out in the U.K. in 1997.

So, how was my first semester at Hogwarts? I enjoyed it. J.K. Rowling definitely has a gift for words. I felt so sorry that Harry had to live with his horrible aunt, uncle, and cousin. He doesn't get the chance to be himself in the Dursley household. Any chance he has to be creative is crushed. Before Hogwarts, the book felt a little slow to me. But once the hulking, but lovable, Hagrid tells Harry about his true "wizard" heritage, the book picks up.

It reads very much like the first book in a series. There are a lot of characters and mythology to lay out. I haven't seen the movies, but I know which actors play which characters. It was fun to read and imagine the scenes in my head. Ron and Hermoine seemed like the kind of friends you would want in your corner. Picturing Alan Rickman as Professor Snape was the best part for me. Most of the movies I've seen with Alan Rickman, he's playing a jerk so the visual was just as good here.

Pacing is such a big deal for me. I want the author to get to the point or overall plot quickly. I wanted a little more action here, which didn't come until the latter chapters. I know Voldemort is the ultimate bad guy, but his role is minimal in this book. Perhaps if I had read the books as they came out, I would have had a different reading experience.

Overall, I enjoyed my first semester at Hogwarts. I'm looking forward to the next chapter. Onto Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!

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