Speaking of hype that doesn’t affect me…

I’ve never read a Harry Potter book and when I tried to watch one of the movies I thought it was perhaps the most boring thing I had ever seen and I didn’t finish it. On the one hand, as a bibliophile I love to see people so excited about a book to the point where every single town in America big enough for a bookstore freaks out and stays open past midnight on a Friday just so people can buy it. Americans don’t generally read to much nowadays, and I’d be happy to see a general enjoyment of reading creep back in on the back of Pottermania.

On the other hand, I’ve never quite understood why these books hit just right to become so freakishly popular. I don’t much like fantasy books as a rule and I’m not particularly interested in British schoolyard class politics. I’m not detracting from all the people who enjoy it, but I have no particular interest in partaking. As part of the living room renovations we have more room for books, and I’ve been loading up the shelves with stuff from my office. I must have 100 books in here now that I haven’t yet read and that I would read before a Harry Potter. That’s just this room. There are other rooms.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

7 thoughts on “Potterless”

  1. Tom says:

    I read the first two books a few years ago and really enjoyed them. I can take or leave fantasy, I can take or leave sci-fi. For me a book just has to be hold my attention and interest for me to to read it, regardless of the subject. Hype or no hype, anyone person that can write books and get the worldwide readership that she has is amazing. The books are not about British schoolyard politics. The books are great stories, really. To relegate the books to ‘schoolyard politics’ is totally unfair and obviously if that was what they were really about they wouldn’t be of interest to milions of kids and adults alike. The reason you don’t understand the freakishly popularity of these books is because you you don’t want to read them. Forget about “partaking”. It’s not about joining the millions of others, it’s about reading a good story, that’s all. If you don’t want to read them that’s fair enough but they are great stories Dave. My roommate won’t use an iPod. Says it’s too user unfriendly and can’t figure how to use it but actually he refuses to have an iPod because of it’s popularity. Some people always go against what is popular and that’s fine. You just can’t criticize something that you have little understanding of. Seems the final installment of Harry Potter has got far far better reception than the final installment of the overly-hyped Sopranos. Ho hum!

  2. Dom Barnes says:

    I was really against Harry Potter too a few years ago. Then my girlfriends persuaded me to read one. It was good. I’ve now read all 6 (waiting for her to finish the 7th so I can start) and I can honestly say that they get better, and the films don’t do them justice. The first two don’t really do a great deal to the overall story. It gets a whole lot better in Prisoner of Azkaban. If you can stand to get through the first two (which aren’t massive anyway) then I think you’ll like them from the third onwards.
    Personally I like anything with a massive arc. Thats why I like Buffy, Heroes, Lost, etc. I like the mythology of them. There is something cool about seeing something come back that was mentioned in earlier episodes/books, that just makes more sense to the whole scene.
    Anyway, like most films, they don’t do justice to the books.
    And Tom is right, its nothing about school yard politics. Its pure good vs evil battle fodder.

  3. Chris C. says:

    I was at a lake house gathering last weekend (wifey work group) and one of the spouses was sitting off in a dark corner reading that damn book (having purchased it 12 hours earlier at the midnight release). On a beautiful sunny day with a freaking LAKE right there in front of you with everyone else in there splashing around. Hmmm.

    On the topics of books, I made a rare foray into SF and bought a collection of stories by Ted Chiang. Not sure if I’ll ever get around to actually reading it …

    And on the topic of SF, there was an SF Sunday Special on WREK this past weekend. I heard a promo for it yesterday (Monday) at 1900, if you want to check it out in the archive. Yes, I heard the promo after the show aired. Hmmm.

  4. dave says:

    Dude, CHIANG ROCKS! I’d move that to the top of the list, like, stat. The guy is really not very prolific, like fewer than a story per year but every one I ever read knocked my socks off.

    I’ll go far out on the limb and say that “Story of Your Life” might be the single best short fiction work I HAVE EVER READ! It’s got the big gee whiz alien story but also a deeply moving emotional story. It made me cry and I’m misting up thinking about it. I wouldn’t trade a truckload of Potters for a single Chiang story.

  5. Chris C. says:

    OK OK! I’ll get right on it 🙂

  6. David Jacobs says:

    I am deeply flawed. I have read all the Potter books; finished the last one yesterday. It’s not grand master fiction but good storytelling. Don’t bother with the movies, they suck.
    I also crave the shiny and new.
    I feel I am too far gone, save yourselves 😉

  7. David Jacobs says:

    Doh! Dave, Google has put a graphical Harry Potter ringtones ad on this page. How incredibly appropriate, in more ways than one.

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