There’s something that sets me apart from my peers. And it’s not the fact that I’m a being of spirit and magic choosing to take up residence inside a curiously photogenic lagomorph. No, it’s a much bigger deal than that.
Prepare yourself. If you’re the pacifist-type, make some tea for your nerves & take a seat. If you’re not, gather your materials — torches and pitchforks will do nicely.
I’ve never read “Harry Potter.”
Time has taught me that I can expect one of two responses from you (or in some cases, one followed promptly by the other):
But the scandal’s not quite over yet.
It’s not just that I haven’t tried. I’ve tried… and I didn’t like it.
I just didn’t think the writing was very good. Here’s my impression (to be read in a British accent):
“There was a cat. It was a very curious cat. It was sitting on a fence. It was a very curious fence. And then there were Muggles.”
I realize that not liking “Harry Potter” is a serious offense. Especially when you’re (akin to) a 20-something. Especially when you work in a Children’s Library. I’m willing to propose that maybe it was me. Maybe my attempts – of which there were several – were just ill-timed.
The first was right after I graduated from college. I finally gave in to my friends’ desperate pleas and threats (“Please, for your own sake…”; “I won’t be your friend anymore if you don’t…) and decided to pick up “The Sorcerer’s Stone.” I gave up after reading only a few chapters. It could be that “Harry Potter”‘ is just overrated… or, it could’ve been that I was a recently-graduated English major (read: a pretentious snob who thought she’d spend the whole of her life reading Proust, Nabokov & Don Dellilo, looking down on the rest of the world from her ivory tower of tomes, existing in a perpetual coffee-induced trance). But I admit: I have been wrong before. (I like to pretend, for instance, that the year I spent worshipping Ayn Rand never happened). So I gave it another shot.
Attempt #2 occurred four years ago when I began dating my boyfriend. At the time, he was living in Newport (by the ocean) and I was living in Central Mass (by no ocean), so I spent almost four hours in the car nearly every weekend, driving to visit him. There’s only so much time a girl can spend blasting the radio, working on her Gwen Stefani impression, before she starts to want something with a little more substance – and perhaps a little less pout. I decided to try audio books. I worked in a Children’s Library then, too, and I grabbed what was readily available. I scoured the shelves and convinced myself that it was time to try “Harry Potter” again. And again, I was nonplussed (despite Jim Dale’s best efforts). I made it to the part where Uncle Vernon drags the family to a ramshackle structure in the middle of the ocean, desperate to prevent Harry from receiving the letters written to him by some strangely persistent, omniscient sender. When I got back in the car at the end of the weekend, I didn’t feel compelled to continue my listening experience. I returned the discs, feeling secure in my belief that “Harry Potter” just wasn’t for me. As time went on, I tried some more audio books. I tried the Sookie Stackhouse series – which was painfully, embarrassingly bad. I tried “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman. I finished not a one. By and by, I came to the conclusion that audio books just weren’t for me.
So, since it might’ve been the format and not the book itself, I picked up “The Sorcerer’s Stone” again about a year ago. That same boyfriend has trouble sleeping, so sometimes I read to him before we go to sleep – it gives him something to focus on and keeps his mind from running in anxious circles. He was the one who suggested “Harry Potter” since he’s a fan, and since he’s read it before so he wouldn’t feel like he was missing anything if he fell asleep. This time, I didn’t hate it. My only complaint was that I felt like I was reading it wrong since I don’t have the British accent (and putting one on with any consistency requires a presence of mind that I just don’t possess around bedtime). I would’ve kept going… but we were moving and I had to bring it back to the library before I flew the coop (hmmm… being a pooka, is that a mixed metaphor? Rabbit? Flew the coop?). There was too much going on when we got to our new home to resume our nightly read-aloud. When I finally found time to start reading again, it wasn’t “Harry Potter” that I sought out. Though I didn’t hate it, I still didn’t catch the bug. I didn’t feel like it was unputdownable.
I’ve been in my new town for almost a year now, and I’ve encountered a whole new crop of people who have been shocked and appalled that I’m not a fan. I’ve added countless spilled cups of tea to the list and more reproving glares. And, let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger; I don’t know how much longer I can keep outrunning these angry mobs (even with my bouncy bunny speed). To avoid being burned at the stake (ironically, my new town is Salem), I’m willing to try “The Sorcerer’s Stone” one last time. You know what they say: the fourth time’s the charm. Plus, if I’m being honest, I think the experiment might make for some interesting blog entries.
What do you think? Am I doomed to a lonely and miserable Life Apart – shunned and hated by all mankind, deemed a monster, cut off from all the world? (For those seem to be the choices: Potterhead or Monster). Or, is the time nigh? Will J.K. Rowling finally make a fan out of me? I promise to give it a real go this time. I’ve been told the books get better as the series progresses. I promise to finish at least two books. And a Pooka’s only as good as her promise.
Results to come…