I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter books on tape. I love it. They’re read by this award-winning British guy, with a thousand character voices. I’d listened to the first
three when one of my best friends from the east coast sent me a thumb drive
with the audio books and photos from when she came to visit me a year ago. I
didn’t begin to listen to the next several until recently.
Mostly, it’s because that’s when people start to die, and
although reading some of the more gruesome or shocking parts is hard of itself,
somehow I couldn’t quite bring myself to listen to them happening. Indeed, now that I have begun to listen to the last
several, it’s quite possible for me to sometimes stop in the middle of walking
and stare wide-eyed and transfixed as a particular bit of action or revelation
is happening on my iPod.
I had to stop listening last night before bed, as I knew
what the next chapter would be, and I couldn’t hang with hearing it so close to
dream time.
When I went on one of my last dates, I was asked what books
I read or what are my favorites. And sad(?) to say, the Harry Potter series is what came to mind. I was a hold-out. I
wasn’t one of those who stood outside of bookstores at midnight waiting for the
next edition, though, surely, had I begun reading when they had, maybe I would
But I have this thing that tells me that anything that a
watershed amount of people like can’t be good. That people are sheep, and
whatever they’re into can’t possibly be any good at all, and they have poor
taste that tells them that cotton candy is a delicacy.
Attitude problem.
The HP books were the
second thing I’d scoffed virulently and vehemently before giving way, and
reading the first one about 4 or 5 years ago. I can’t even remember how or why. But it was certainly
after all of them came out, so once I did crack that first one… I had full
access to dive-bomb read through all of them in a row. I’m pretty sure that I
read the entire series in the course of a week. – They are
fat books. And I got little sleep. *so worth it*
The first thing that I scoffed at, I’m still too embarrassed
to admit here. It was a band that got popular when I was in high school, and as
all the popular kids began to wear the t-shirts and talk about the shows, I
thought, loftily, how stupid they were just to jump on the bandwagon that
everyone else had – that if it weren’t popular, they wouldn’t like the band. So
it was several years, too, before I gave that band a listen, and in fact, fell
in love with it – and it remains one of my closet favorites of all time.
The thing about the Harry Potter series is that I now dive-bomb through them, I
realize, at particularly intense or stressful times in my life. I last read the
whole series about a year and a half ago, when I was on a break from school,
and I just wanted to retreat from the whole damn world.
People often say how reading was their first addiction, and I
can fall into that category as well. The great thing about the HP series is that it’s transportive, relatable, and well-written.
When I had the Twilight
book forced upon me by a friend, giving her the same reluctant, “
You of all
people can’t be one of the sheep, can you?” look, I read it. And then I read the
rest. But, this was a different kind of read than the
HPs. This, was not good writing. Sure, it was/is addictive writing; it’s over-emotional,
and relatable to that angsty teen love thing – she captures that really well.
But, are the sentences well written? I don’t think so. Is it a book that will
be called a masterpiece? Probably not. Did I read them all through with fervor
just the same? Well, yes.
I suppose there’s two points here then. One, is that I can
be a stubborn and lofty fool. Dismissing things others suggest, feeling that I
know better. And this is a streak that
is NOT just around books, but around most everything. I think I know the best
way, and I will be damned to take suggestions from
you, whoever you are – what do you know. Luckily, or
painfully, I get a lot of chances to see where my ideas only get me so far, and
then, fortunately, I do have others’ wisdom and suggestions to pull on. But it
often takes me a long large time to get to the point when I’m willing to listen
and then to actually put those suggestions to action.
The second point is that, yes, indeed, I am escaping into
these books right now. I am feeling stressed by the realities of life, and yes,
I would like a little magic, if you don’t mind. Sure, there are a thousand
other books to read, as my date readily pointed out – sounding a little
doubtful that I actually have degrees in English. But, I don’t, right now, want
something that, as my friend put it recently, will subtly shift my soul; I do
want cotton candy. I know what it is. I know its caloric value. But, it’s what
the feverish part of my worried brain needs to soothe it.
I just went through a whole series of memoirs, mostly of
people who were fucked up, and maybe now are less fucked up. Redemption stories
are great; but struggle against self and others is what I have in my waking
life – I’m a little over it in my “hobby” life.
So, as I listen to the last half of the 6th Harry
book, knowing as I do, that it’s
about to turn devilishly dark for the next while, I’m not sure what I’ll do.
But, like Pringles, once you pop … and maybe I’ll pick up something lighter for

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