I have caved. Broken by curiosity and sweet nagging, I have given in to a childish franchise I purposely avoided for 14 years. I’m reading the Harry Potter books.
In one of my survey of American Lit courses back at ASU, the pseudo-professor running the Friday class asked us all at the beginning of the course what book made us love literature. I was amazed at how many students said it was the Harry Potter books. At that level of literary comprehension, I was expecting people to name off the classics or some sort of lesser-to-well known, anti-culture, anti-hero novel like Trainspotting, because that’s what I said.
Foremost, I never read the books because my impression was that they were just silly kids’ books. See, I had this job at the Phoenix Public Library for a long time. There was this kid who would come in frequently wearing a robe, carrying a homemade wand, wearing round eye glasses, and even had a lightning bolt drawn on his forehead. A little fat kid who came in to check out The Sorcerer’s Stone or The Chamber of Secrets for the 500th time. Little Fatty Potter. That was my impression of that “fad.” It wasn’t just that kid fanatically reading the books. It was every kid, and adults too. There was a lot of hype. Then, of course, came the counter-hype.
The media’s exploitation of a few outspoken voices in the Christian community was really just a tempest in a teapot that made me want to never read the books, as I’m sure many did just to see what the fuss was about. Most Harry Potter fans I know are faithful Christians, who, as I, see the books as entertaining children’s stories. It really wasn’t as black and white a conflict as the media would have us believe. It wasn’t some sort of warfare between Christians and Pagans. Some people spoke out against the books. Some exalted its achievements in literacy. Mostly, people just read them as entertainment.
Unfortunately, all of that media hype of a few Christian naysayers has tainted the way I am reading the stories, which is what I prefer to avoid. I try to go into books without a predisposed point of view, but I couldn’t help but think throughout reading The Sorcerer’s Stone, “This is what they were so concerned about? A few made up spells?” Harry, Ron and Hermione use more research, logic, and good, old fashioned detective skills than they do magic, the meddling brats.
Anyway, every girlfriend I’ve had tried to get me to read these books. One of them got me to watch the first movie, which was not convincing enough for me to read the stories. It really wasn’t until my current girlfriend (now fiancé) led me to read and watch Harry Potter through what I can only suspect as osmosis. Seeing someone close enjoy something and talk about it so much can wear down on a person. The final piece that really made me cross over was a glimpse of the Death Eaters I saw at the Harry Potter Exhibit here in Seattle with my fiancé. Bad ass looking dark wizards wearing skull masks and terrorizing hippy, magical festivals? Yes, please.
So, now I’ve watched all the movies and I’m trying to get through all the books before the last film comes out in July. I must say, I’m really enjoying them so far. They’re very entertaining, and very fun. However, don’t expect me to end up like this guy.