Thursday, 28 July 2011

Thankfully we still have the books...

Around about 2001/2002, there was a lot of hysteria about a certain series of books.  Book shops were selling out, there were queues everywhere and it even made the national news headlines.  Then they released a movie or two.

Of course, I'm talking about the Harry Potter series, which has now come to an end with the final film being released last week.  I was thinking about this while watching the 50 Greatest Harry Potter Moments last night.

At first, I completely resisted the hype.  I recall my initial reaction was "I can't believe people are buying into this!" and insisted I would never see any of the movies or read any of the books.
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Then around summer 2002 my sister and I were on holiday on a coach trip and, during a long journey, they put a DVD on to pass the time.  The DVD just had to be Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone.  My sister and I rolled eyes at each other, as she shared the same view as I did. 

And then, the movie started.  And, annoyingly, we bloody well enjoyed it.  We didn't want to enjoy it! We were resisting damnit! 

Then later that summer, I was cat sitting for my cousins at their house for a week or two.  Laying in bed, late at night, I was struggling to get to sleep.  I had forgotten the book I had been reading, and so looked around my cousins daughter's room for a book to read.  She had every single Harry Potter book, and nothing else.  Not one other book.  With a sigh, I grabbed Philosophers Stone and climbed back into bed.  Three hours later, I was still reading.  I was captivated.  Here was this book that fed my imagination, sucked me in to a world that clearly could only exist in your head, but somehow felt so real. 

That was it.  I was hooked.  Hooked on a book I didn't even want to read in the first place. Philosophers Stone was finished within a week and I was on to Chamber of Secrets.  I ended up buying my own set of the books, and now, 9 years later, I have read each book maybe 4 or 5 times.  I took Order of the Phoenix on holiday with me to Florida in 2005, finished it, and had to buy Half-Blood Prince out there to satisfy my thirst to continue the story, to keep myself immersed in this amazing wizarding world. 

They are my "go to" books.  If I'm struggling for ideas for what to read, or don't want anything too taxing that I have to think about, I reach for Harry Potter.  I don't have to think about what I'm reading, I know the world so well and can dip in and out without losing the plot.

Why are the books so good?  I don't know.  I suspect it's because it appeals to everyone, young and old.  Also that JK Rowling has created characters that we can care about, a plot with real depth, and a world that takes us away from real life, even if just for a while.  It's a secret world, which exists only inside my head and that's the great appeal for me.

I have seen all the movies, which I love, but I spent most of them being incredibly annoying, whispering to my sister "they've missed out such and such from the book" or "that bit wasn't in the book".  To me, books are always better than the movie adaptation, and I've yet to see a movie-based-on-a-book that really does a book justice. 

Currently, I'm back to the beginning, reading Philosophers Stone for what feels like the hundredth time.  Yet I get something new from it every time.  It is my bedtime reading. 

I can't wait to be able to share this wonderful world with my children someday.

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