My head is full of Harry Potter. I’ve been compulsively re-reading the series since late May. I cannot. Put. Them. Down.
I started reading them in preparation for Books & Bars, which is holding an All Harry Day on July 12. Okay, that’s just what I call it — it’s officially called Harry Potter Day at the Aster Cafe.
Harry Potter Books & Bars
6 p.m., Tuesday, July 12
125 SE Main Street
Minneapolis, MN 55414
This meeting of the hip, trendy book club in a bar will include a longer book discussion that starts at 6 p.m. and will encompass all seven books. Best to arrive early, folks.
But really, this is just in anticipation of the second half of the seventh movie (does that make sense?) that opens on July 15. For those of us who have avidly followed this whole incredible phenomenon from the beginning, this is an exciting, albeit rather bittersweet, event.
Of course, in the beginning, we didn’t know that. We heard about this book with this amazing underdog boy as the main character. Who doesn’t love an underdog? Particularly one who lives in the cupboard under the stairs and wears hand-me-downs? And then, to find out he’s a wizard? Well, that’s just every underdog’s dream, isn’t it?
And then, the books were actually good. They were well-written, funny, with deep meaning behind the magical hijinks, and that whole lovely fun imaginative world with all these new words — Muggles, Quidditch, spells of presumably Latin or Greek derivation, and so much more. The underdog met true and good new friends, and found a world in which he belonged.
There was sadness, to be sure. There was evil. But this just heightened the sense of urgency. To read each new book.
The marketing was genius. I remember going to a couple of the midnight launch parties at the Har Mar Barnes & Noble. The wizards were out in force, complete with costumes and tell-tale lightening-shaped scars. The store was decorated to the hilt, and to their credit, they managed the mob scene in a very organized way. By this time, my younger son was devouring the books but thought he was a little too old to dress as a book character in public.
The idea to have the book come out in the summer, no less right about the time of the main character’s birthday, and have midnight parties for children who clearly wanted to stay up all night reading, was pretty slick.
I didn’t read the books until my older son’s seventh grade English teacher foisted the first one on me at conferences. She brought it out of her cupboard like it was a chocolate stash. I had been asking her how to get my previously reading son to read again. She handed it to me with a whisper and told me that she wasn’t lending these out to just anyone. I took it home, he read it, and I can’t tell you how satisfying it was for me to sit in the living room and listen to him laughing on his top bunk (we had a very small apartment at the time).
Then I read them. At first, I started the series over with each new book, but quickly realized that was not sustainable if I wanted to read anything else, as each new book got progressively longer. I recall one Saturday I sat down at the dining room table and opened the newest book. I don’t remember which one it was, probably Book Four: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I sat there all day and into the night, and read the whole thing. And this is a Saturday for a working mother with two kids at home, mind you. I do not believe I have ever done that before, and certainly not since.
The movies were done well, thankfully. Okay, Ron was a little bulky and Harry was a little shorter than you might expect, but how they squeezed each of the later books into one movie was handled very well. This final movie will be the second half of Book Seven. Judging from the trailer, it promises to end the whole series with a bang. A magic bang.
This is the last Harry Summer. I submitted the Harry Potter books as my summer read to the StarTribune, and Laurie Hertzel included it in her list. So it’s not just me. These books always start in the summer, they always end in the summer, and I recall many summer evenings spent reading them. I had to wait two weeks to read book seven because I knew once I started I wouldn’t want to put it down. So I waited to take it to the cabin, and I had to dodge spoilers until our vacation. There is a picture of my son and me sitting in chairs in front of the cabin, reading our respective Harry Potter books. It was a wonderful week.
So it’s true. I am a Harry fan. Even after reading the books several times, I still laugh in places and cry in others. I cannot fault any book that has interested millions of children in reading. Even with the copycat books and the market saturation, I still have a visit to Harry Potter world in Florida on my bucket list.
Favorite quote: from Book Five: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
“And from now on, I don’t care if my tea leaves spell die, Ron, die — I’m just chucking them in the bin where they belong.” — Ron Weasley
Makes me laugh every time.
What’s your favorite Harry Potter book, quote, or memory?
Read more about the final Harry summer over at The Minneapolis Examiner.