Monday, April 25, 2011

Accio Nostalgia!

Has anyone heard of this new book, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE? Apparently, it's already sold thirty thousand copies in the U.K. and it's poised to be big here in the United States. They're even talking about a movie! I don't know about you, but these figures sure have piqued my interest. I may have to check this Harry Potter thing out. Here's an interview with the author, J.K. Rowling:

Kidding aside, we are now two and a half months away from the final film's opening (*sniff*), and this has got me thinking on my own experiences with Harry. I was in high school when the books started getting attention. My mom gave me the first book on tape for Christmas and I remember thinking, "Psh. A kid's book? Lame!"

Famous last words.

Harry had me at hello. I was hooked. I became an unrepentant Potter junkie. This was back in the days before I started driving, so I would listen to the tapes on a clanky old walkman while I fed horses and cleaned stalls in the evenings. Even now, more than ten years later, the smells of horses, hay, and dust that hit me every time I step into my barn trigger a sense memory that instantly transports me back to Hogwarts.

Jim Dale's incomparable vocal performance as the books' narrator only added to the fun. I didn't actually read a Harry Potter book until I got halfway through HALF-BLOOD PRINCE and left the tapes in my car behind a theatre with the windows cracked (insert forehead smack here). Needless to say, those tapes disappeared. While I pinched my brother's copy of the book to find out what happened next, I still forked over the dough to buy another HBP on tape because I couldn't bear to have an incomplete set.

PRISONER OF AZKABAN and DEATHLY HALLOWS are my favorite books story-wise, but ORDER OF THE PHOENIX holds an especially fuzzy place in my heart. PHOENIX came out in the summer of 2003, just before I traveled to South Africa for a study-abroad program. It's the longest book of the series, but of course I started listening the moment it came in the mail. I was only halfway through when my departure date arrived. No way was I waiting six whole weeks to finish the book, so I hauled all seventeen tapes to Africa with me in my backpack.

You know the part where Harry is trapped in Umbridge's office and the only person who can help him is Snape but he doesn't want to give anything away, so he finally yells, "He's got Padfoot! He's got Padfoot in the place where it's hidden!"? Yeah, I was traveling in a van from the Nelspruit airport to the Southern African Wildlife College with a bunch of uber jet-lagged students when that all went down.

Or, how about when Dumbledore finally tells Harry about the prophecy? I was in a van again, but this time we were on our way to Kruger National Park for our first game drive.

I was sitting out on my dorm room's back porch at night, marveling at the southern hemisphere's strange constellations when a certain important character received the killing curse and fell through the veil in the Department of Mysteries (*sniff* again). Even over the headphones, I could still hear the hyenas calling to each other in the distance on the other side of the campus's ten-foot-tall electrified fence.

Yep. We've shared some pretty neat adventures, Harry and I.

As a reader, I've wanted to experience Harry's world again and again, returning to every book more times than I care to admit. As a writer, I marvel at Rowling's skill at creating characters with depth and humanity, a complex mythology, multiple side plots and an epic, over-arching hero's quest that she had to sustain over seven books. This is the kind of writing that makes me go, "Dang. I wanna learn how to do that."

Which makes me wonder: Are there any stories that stick out in your mind the way Harry Potter has affected me?

BTW: The cafe where that interview takes place is called The Elephant House. It's where Rowling did much of her early writing on Harry Potter. I visited the cafe when I was in Edinburgh last summer, but alas, I had already eaten lunch that day and it was rather crowded, so I didn't go inside. Now I kinda wish I had. (Insert another forehead smack here.)


Robin said...

LOVED Harry Potter. I discovered it about the time the 5th book came out. I ran to the library and read the first 4 and by the time I was done I only had to wait a week or two for the 5th to come out - which we bought in hard back on the first day. As we did the rest of them. On the day the 7th book came out, we went to the store and I read the epilogue first to see who was still alive [we'd heard horrible rumors]. Since we were very satisfied with the epilogue, I started reading out loud to the girls right there in the store while Eric paid for it. We read aloud all the way home, the rest of the day, way too late at night, got up early the next day and read aloud ALL DAY [through baths and meals] until we finished about 2 a.m. the next morning. TOTALLY worth it. Wonderful silly family memory.

Another book that I couldn't put down and that really changed the way I look at the world is Atlas Shrugged. I didn't read it until a few years ago. It was gripping. As soon as I finished it, I read it through again - 4 times. I couldn't put it down.

Greenacremama said...

I still can't get into them...not sure why cause I love the the theme but for as much as I try to sit through a movie.....just find myself bored. Perhaps the books are better than the movies?.
Muchas Gracias for the compliment Russo...hope ur having a great Easter weekend!

SJ @ Homemaker On A Dime said...

My daughter is a Harry Potter addict! She read all books and watched all movies. Now she's waiting for the latest movie to come out in the theaters. Thanks for the sweet comment in my blog about the crocheted wall art. I'm admiring all the informative and creative posts here so will you please share them at the Creative Bloggers' Party and Hop? The party is at http://www.homemakeronadime.com/2011/04/creative-bloggers-party-hop-042411.html? Thank you again :)

Jessica said...

I have been a Harry Potter fan since the first movie. Even thought I'm a big reader I didn't want to read the books. The movies were just so great to me and I knew the books would be better but didn't want to ruin what I already had. Well after watching Half Blood Prince I had SOOO many questions I finally decided I couldn't wait another year and started reading the books. I don't have any sentimental stories of where I was when I read a certain part because I read all 7 books in 10 days. I was hooked from Chapter 1. Can't believe I waited so long to read them.

We just watched Deathly Hallows again last night. I can't wait until the second movie but I'm so sad it will be over. My hubby is a bigger fan than me and he has NOT read the books. He keeps asking me questions I can't answer! HAHA.

MANDY said...

Isn't it amazing what a book, or series, can do to you?! I feel the same way about the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I remember every character (and there are many) and how I felt and what I was doing/going through in my life during each of her 7 mammoth books. I am awaiting book #8. I love them. I totally understand your addiction. Also, I get the envious wish of having that talent...to make others believe, trust, love and hate your characters. If only....

MANDY said...

I totally get it. I feel the same way about The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I remember every character, every smell, every night I was with those characters from those seven mammoth books. I was obsessed. I too wish ...wish I could make people feel, love, hate and desire characters that I create in my mind and make come alive on paper. What an amazing talent.

mmbear said...

I know! I just find out about that last week and waited til the weekend to attempt it. If you go to the bottom of my blog you will see a box that has a score of 83. It will give you the report. The other little blue ones will give you some more numbers. The one that says 0 is a Google stat. It is suppose to be at least a 2 or 3 if you want to get the really good products (high priced) to review so that bummed me out big time! Do not know what you do to change that. I have emailed my blog designer to explain it all so I don't know yet. Maybe I should just stick to entering contests!


laura@imnotatrophywife.com said...

not related to this post.. but your comment about your crush on "the donald" was a LOL moment! he is entertaining to watch because he has the b***s to say it.

mymy said...

wasn't into HP until my sister got one for her daughter...loved it! would love to listen to the books on tape!

Janiel Miller said...

GREAT memories, Maegan. How cool! I loved this post.

Robin, love what you did with your family. What a cool mom.

I discovered Harry when my mother in law bought it because she'd heard people say it was a good book. I skeptically began reading it to her and my kids adn couldn't put it down. Did the same thing Robin did: blew through all of them up to book four, then waited for 5 to come out. Took the kids to a Border's Book HP5 release party. We all dressed up (I was supposed to be Nymphadora Tonks, but ended up looking like here mother, Geriatradora. My daughter and niece, who was living with us at the time, sewed Hogwarts robes for themselves and my oldest son. My next daughter went as Moaning Myrtle, and I drew a lightening bolt on my baby.) We went every book release after that. My littlest dude won a costume contest as Mad-Eye, and my youngest daughter took second as Trelawny. And everyone is completely woebegone that we won't get that chance again.

To write like Rowling? I'd give my laptop. And that's saying something.

Sara B. Larson said...

LOVE love LOVE HP!! I also love this post. Jo Rowling is my hero (as I've mentioned on my blog) and I would love to meet her someday. I wish I could write the way she does. She is a master.

Maegan Langer said...

Wow, I'm LOVING all these stories, guys! I feel bonded with y'all over our shared love of the Boy Who Lived (yet more evidence of Ms. Rowling's mastery).

By the time I discovered Harry Potter, the first 3 books were already out. It was a GREAT day when books 2 and 3 came in the mail at once :)

Outlanders sounds intriguing. I'll be looking that up. I haven't read Atlas Shrugged yet either, but I hear there's a movie coming out.

Thanks for all your comments!

The Crypto-Capers Series said...

I did enjoy reading Harry Potter. The books are far better than the movies with tons more information though the movies are entertaining. There not my favorite books though. My favorite book of all time that I could read over and over again is The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux. I have actually read it dozens of times. The mystery of the story captivated me from the very beginning, and made you think all the way through it until everything was revealed. Love it! I think it is great that you actually had been to that cafe. Awesome!

Russo said...

I loved this post because you gave tribute to author that totally rocks. From her writing chops to her inspirational story of fighting to overcome her life circumstance. Lovely post!