Harry Potter

Mark's #29 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (1998)

I returned to Hogwarts in book two of the infamous Harry Potter series as I once again read this book aloud to my daughters.  Once again, the magic, hijinks, plot-twists, and characters of J.K. Rowling's world managed to keep my children enthusiastically engaged, begging me to read "one more chapter!" each night.

There was more character development and growing back story in this book.  For example, the reader can tell that there will be a growing rift between the 'pure blood' wizards and the 'mud bloods' (half wizard half muggle born) and the muggle born children.

However, I didn't find this second book to be anything special.   I've tired of the  wizard world, and have told my daughters that they'll have to wait until next summer for me to read book three.


Mark's #23 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1999)

Seeing as I am one of  the last holdouts in the english-speaking world to not read any of the Harry Potter books, or see any of the movies, I won't bother going into the details of the young wizard in training. I read this book aloud to my daughters.  I did this because I had heard about all the controversy regarding the series: "Those books are spiritually dangerous", "The fantasy of Harry Potter is different from that of Narnia or Lord of the Rings", "Oh, they're fine, there's nothing wrong with those books", etc.  As such, I wanted to see for myself what all the hullabaloo was all about.

So here's my conclusion: The (1st) Harry Potter book is neither as dangerous or as spiritually benign as some have claimed.

There is much to delight the young (or old) reader (listener) in terms of fantasy, hijinks, and adventure.  There is also the normalization of witchcraft and wizardry, ghosts, and the undead (Voldemort).

Since I read this book to my kids, I took advantage of the teaching opportunities given throughout the book to discuss these issues.  As such, we were able pause and talk about Saul and the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28), what the Bible says about witchcraft and ghosts, and issues of good and evil, courage, and discernment.

Personally I enjoyed the story... but I enjoyed the time with my daughters more.  They've all begged me to begin book #2 as soon as possible... Peering into my crystal ball, a return to Hogwarts seems to be in my future.

JRF's #27 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by R.K. Rowling

I'm not a Harry Potter evangelist.  If your conscience won't allow you to read or watch Harry Potter, I have nothing against you.   But if it means anything, I can honestly say that at no point in reading the books or watching the movies was I actually tempted to try to ride a broom, free any house elves, wield a wand or change my appearance using polyjuice potion.  Instead, I was uplifted by a great and gripping story, the center of which lifts up sacrificial love.

If you've read the books you know they are good and why they are (unless you are Ron, who is weird).  If you haven't read the books due to your convictions, I understand and appreciate your stance.  That's all I'll say about that.

What I really want to use this post for is to propogate my foolproof method of enjoying books that have been made into movies.  The secret?  ALWAYS watch the movie FIRST.  It is a well known fact that however great a movie is, the book will always surpass it.  The Harry Potter movies are great movies and have been impressively and adequately adapted from the books.  But there is simply no way that 800+ page books can be translated into a 2 hour movie.  More importantly, the details of relationships, thoughts, emotions...etc that make a book so enrapturing cannot ever be as effectively communicated on screen.  I always left the HP movies with a smile but a slightly confused smile.  I enjoyed getting from Point A to Point B to Point C, but often was confused on how I got there.  Many times there seemed to be holes in the plot or logic of the film.  However, once I read the books, Rowling made the journey from Point A to Point C (with a few side jaunts to points i and ii) entirely logical and smooth.

Bottom line: if you read the book then watch the movie (and i am talking about any book to movie, not just HP) 9 times out of 10 you will be disappointed with the movie.  If you watch the movie then read the book, you will be able to appreciate the movie and the appreciation of the story can only grow as you then read the book.

The world of literature and film is better because of J.K. Rowling's imaginative story and it has been a fun journey watching and reading it.