Books Re-Read in 2016: The Harry Potter Series (Books 1–7, Do I Even Need to Put a Star Rating?)
Orphan Harry learns he is a wizard on 11th birthday when Hagrid escorts him to magic-teaching Hogwarts School. As a baby, his mother’s love protected him and vanquished villain Voldemort, leaving child famous as “The Boy who Lived”. With friends Hermione and Ron, he has to win over the returned “One Who Must Not Be Named”. Not all his friends survive massive war.
Okay, so this is really more of a timeline/celebration of re-reading these books for the . . . sixth? seventh? . . . time. As of earlier this year, I now own these seven books in four separate formats—hard copy (a combination of paperback and hardcover), Audio CD (also “ripped” onto the computer in digital format so I could listen to it on my old-skool MP3 player), Kindle version, and now digital audio through Audible (so I can listen through the Audible app on my phone). (Yes, I also own the movies on DVD; I haven’t watched them in a long time, though, because the books are so much better.)
I’ll be the first to admit that I was a latecomer to the books/movies. I didn’t pick up the books to start reading them until right before #6 came out in 2005. I was in grad school, and was put off by the controversy that started up over this series in the more conservative circles of the writing group I was in at the time. As with most things, I decided I needed to experience it for myself before I could come to a conclusion as to whether I thought it was good or bad. I still had DVD service from Netflix at the time, and somehow, timing conspired that I ended up receiving the disks of movies 1–3 at the same time. So I set aside a weekend (in between grad school terms) to watch all three movies. I was barely halfway through the second movie before I got onto Amazon and ordered a set that contained the paperbacks of books 1-5 (all that were out at the time).
Shortly after that, I also ordered the audiobooks—after all, it was a 13-hour drive from Nashville to where my parents lived in Dallas (at the time) and to Greensburg, PA, where my grad school is located. I fell in love with the vocal talent of Jim Dale, who performed the audiobooks, and enjoyed being able to switch back and forth between audio and print as time allowed.
There’s something to be said for a book series that’s this long that it became an instant classic despite obvious issues with the writing style, not to mention several major plot holes and problems with logic. Rowling managed to create such iconic—and yet relatable and sympathetic—characters and tell a story in such a compelling way, it doesn’t matter that she uses embellished tags after each line of dialogue (she said emphatically) or that certain questions never get answered.
For me, the first three books are okay (thus the reason why there are no Goodreads updates on those), but it really picks up in Book 4 (Goblet of Fire)—and it’s no coincidence that happens to be the first “long” book in the series.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
My GR Status Update(s):
01/09 . . .marked as: currently-reading
01/12. . .marked as: read
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
My GR Status Update(s):
01/12. . .marked as: currently-reading
01/18. . .marked as: read
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
My GR Status Update(s):
01/20. . .marked as: currently-reading
01/21. . .“Turn to page 394!”
01/23. . .marked as: read
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
My GR Status Update(s):
01/23. . .marked as: currently-reading
01/25. . .15.0%
01/28. . .26.0% “Bubotubers,” Professor Sprout told them briskly. “They need squeezing. . . .”
02/02. . .33.0% “I’m telling you, that’s not a normal girl!” said Ron . . . “They don’t make them like that at Hogwarts.” | “They make them okay at Hogwarts,” said Harry without thinking.
02/03. . .42.0% “He’s not even good looking!” she muttered angrily, glaring at Krum’s sharp profile. “They only like him because he’s famous! They wouldn’t look twice at him if he couldn’t do that Wonky-Feint thing–” | “Wronski Feint,” said Harry, through gritted teeth.
02/05. . .76.0% “A shallow stone basin lay there, with odd carvings around the edge: runes and symbols that Harry did not recognize. The silvery light was coming from the basin’s contents, which were like nothing Harry had ever seen before. . . . It looked like light made liquid—or like wind made solid—Harry couldn’t make up his mind.”
02/07. . .84.0% “Kill the spare!”
02/08. . .marked as: read
02/08. . .100.0% I understand that Rowling didn’t want to confuse readers by bringing in the thestrals at the end of this book. But it’s odd that the “horseless carriages” are mentioned several times at the end—if she didn’t want to confuse readers, why mention them at all? She could have just not mentioned that method of conveyance and then it wouldn’t be so odd when she introduces the thestrals at the beginning of Book 5.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
My GR Status Update(s):
02/10. . .marked as: currently-reading
02/12. . .18.0% “I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it! Oh, Ron, how wonderful! A prefect! That’s everyone in the family!” | “What are Fred and I, next-door neighbors?” George asked indignantly, as his mother pushed him aside and flung her arms around her younger son.
02/13. . .22.0% Something you notice the umpteenth time you read a book: At the end of Chapter 10, Harry has Hedwig in her cage, Ron has Pig in his cage, and Hermione has Crookshanks in her arms when they get into the carriages at the Hogwarts train station. Yet when they get out of the carriage to enter the castle, they go straight into the Great Hall for the feast and sorting and no longer have the animals with them.
02/15. . .30.0% Harry’s third detention passed in the same way as the previous two, except that after two hours the words “I must not tell lies” did not fade from the back of Harry’s hand, but remained scratched there, oozing droplets of blood.
02/20. . .49.0% Ever since the first time I read this book, I always skip right past Chapter 20, “Hagrid’s Tale.” Sorry, Hagrid, but I really don’t care about what you did and said during your time with the giants, since it doesn’t do anything to move the story forward, either in this book or in the series.
02/22. . .74.0% “I should have made my meaning plainer,” said Professor McGonagall, turning at last to look Umbridge directly in the eyes. “He has achieved high marks in all Defense Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher.”
02/22. . .75.0% I will never understand why, sometime during Harry’s first conversation with Sirius from Umbridge’s fire, Sirius didn’t ask Harry why he hadn’t used the much safer method of the magical mirror he gave him at Christmas. Or at least admonished him to use it the next time instead of risking breaking into her office again. But, then, that would have solved the final conflict too easily. So stupid/forgetful Sirius it is.
02/23. . .87.0% The knot in Harry’s stomach tightened. If Sirius really was not here, he had led his friends to their deaths for no reason at all…
02/24. . .marked as: read
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
My GR Review/Status Update(s):
It’s amazing to me how annoying Harry’s obsession with Malfoy is in this book—even when I know that he’s right! There are also several scenes/chapters I skip in this book (including the sectumsempra episode). But I’d give anything for even the scenes I skip to have made it unscathed into the movie instead of the mangled mess they made out of it!
02/26. . .marked as: currently-reading
03/05. . .marked as: read
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
My Review/GR Status Update(s):
03/05/2016. . .marked as: currently-reading
03/05. . .10.0% “How do you feel, Georgie?” whispered Mrs. Wesley. | George’s fingers groped for the side of his head. “Saintlike,” he murmured. | “What’s wrong with him?” croaked Fred, looking terrified. “Is his mind affected?” | “Saintlike,” repeated George, opening his eyes and looking up at his brother. “You see . . . I’m holy. HOLEY, Fred, geddit?”
03/05. . .11.0% “Well said, Harry,” said Fred unexpectedly. | “Yeah, ‘ear, ‘ear,” said George, with half a glance at Fred, the corner of whose mouth twitched.
03/08. . .63.0% “Harry… Potter…” And then with a little shudder the elf became quite still, and his eyes were nothing more than great glassy orbs, sprinkled with light from the stars they could not see. <– GETS ME EVERY TIME!!!
03/12. . .91.0% Chapter 34, “The Forest Again.” I cried almost all the way through this chapter, which I haven’t done for the last couple of times that I read it. Listening to the audiobook gives that freedom—and Jim Dale’s performance helps, too. I needed that emotional outburst.
03/12. . .100.0% All was well. Sigh
03/12. . .marked as: read
My rating matrix:
5 STARS = one of the best I’ve ever read
4 STARS = a great read, highly recommended
3 STARS = it was okay
2 STARS = I didn’t enjoy it all that much, not recommended
1 STAR = DNF (did not finish)
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