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Flame Me If You Must, But I Don’t Get This Whole Harry Potter Thing July 9, 2011

Filed under: Books,Do Re Me,Hot Topics,Life, Whatnot — indiakonstanze @ 3:45 pm

Seriously.  I just don’t get it.  It’s a book.  Several of them, in fact.  But there are lots of great books.  Why are people losing their shit over these in particular?  Or is it the movies that are making people lose their shit?  Either way, I don’t get it.

Full disclosure:  I’ve never read them.  I’ve never seen the movies.  (Okay, I might have dozed through one or two of the movies, courtesy of a roommate’s DVD copy.)  I know 99.9% of the universe will gasp in horror.  Fully 98% of those 99.9% will instantly ask if I live under a rock, hate literature, hate the British, hate fantasy, hate YA, or just hate books in general.  I can assure you that none of those things are true.

I do not live under a rock.  I live in an apartment.  With the internet.  And a library card.  And tons of books.

I do not hate literature.  I love literature.  I’m in grad school studying literature.  By choice.  Incurring up to $30,000 of debt to do so, in an economy in which I am extremely unlikely to find a job.  I read War and Peace and Anna Karenina by choice.  This would seem to illustrate the fact that I do love literature.

I do not hate the British.  I read lots of British authors.  I love things that are British.  I’ve been to England several times.  I stayed up to watch the Royal Wedding.  See, I even capitalized “Royal Wedding.”  Yeah, it’s that big a deal.  I dated a British guy for the simple fact that he was British.  In all other respects, he was an asshole.  But it’s impossible to deny the wit, charm, and cuteness of British men.

I do not hate fantasy.  Neither do I love it, but “hate” is far too strong a word.  If I do read any fantasy, it’s usually the dark fairy tale type.  C.J. Cherryh’s Rusalka series still blows my mind.  And there are wizards in it!  And magic!  I have next to no experience with other fantasy novels, aside from a few Anne McCaffreys I read in middle school.

I do not hate YA.  I don’t really understand why the publishing industry shits itself over YA books that feature “edgy” issues like cutting, molestation, gay sex, and the like, but I’m not against it any more than I am for it.  Consider me bemused.  That being said, I wouldn’t put a book down if I wanted to read it simply because it was written for and marketed mainly towards kids or teens.  Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game is one of my all-time favorite books.  Forever.  Like, put a copy in my coffin favorite.  And I still read Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series every few years.  Holy hell, that’s probably categorized as Young Adult Fantasy, now that I think of it.  See?  I’m participating.

I do not hate books in general.  (See all sentences prior to that one.)

But when it comes to Harry Potter, I just can’t be bothered to care.  I know this will offend fanboys and fangirls everywhere, who find deep satisfaction in the characters, plot, and the fact that they simply grew up with these characters.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  More power to them.  I am all for books changing people’s lives.  If more books changed people’s lives instead of reality TV shows, the world would be a better place.

Still.  I can’t bring myself to read a Harry Potter book.  I look at the book jacket copy.  Nothing there makes me want to pick one up.  A boy wizard?  Nope.  A giant named Hagrid? Nope.  Magic wand?  Nope.  I just can’t care.  Maybe it means I have no heart.  This is entirely possible.  None of the books have a plot point that make me think, hey, that sounds interesting.

Plenty of people have assured me that once I start reading them, I’ll be hooked.  They’re unputdownable, someone said.  Well, that means I would have to pick one up.  That’s where they lose me.  I need a better hook.  Or, in all fairness, a hook more suited to my tastes.  I’m not suited to wizardry, apparently.  Or stories told from the point of view of a young boy.  All the whimsical touches people love about these books (the names, the magical inventions, etc.) feel trite and forced to me.  I don’t think, “Good Grief, I can’t wait to find out what Quidditch is.”  I think, “Hmm.  That is a Scrabble catch-all word if I’ve ever seen one.”

I can’t read something just because other people say it’s amazing.  It has to hook me, my imagination and my spirit and my soul.  Think of the classic parental deterrence phrase:  If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?  No.  A hundred times no.  I will not be bullied into reading something just because, oh, billions of other people enjoy it.  Great for them.  Not my thing.

In the tumblr world, people are freaking out over this last Harry Potter movie.  Crying.  Saying their lives will never be the same now that it’s over.  Posting endless GIFs with snapshots from the movies.  And I suppose there’s nothing too unhealthy about any of it.  I’m still just left bewildered.