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Reading Harry Potter once is not enough

August 2, 2010

I recently took it upon myself to re-read the Harry Potter series.

Well, okay, let’s be honest, I only re-read the 6th and 7th book, and I did so in an effort to prepare for the release of the 7th movie (in Nov.).

I’m not going to pretend, though, that I didn’t want to re-read the entire series. I did. I just didn’t have time.

The thing is, I discovered something: the Harry Potter series gets better and better the more times you read it.

Hear me out.

If you’re like me, you were at the Barnes & Noble midnight release party every single time a new Potter book came out. And then, the moment that hardcover touched your fingertips, you glued your eyes to the pages and never parted until you’d read everything — even the author’s biography which, if we’re being honest, we all already knew.

The first time I read the books, I was reading furiously — I needed to know what happened. Did everything end up okay? Does Harry defeat Voldemort? Do Hermione and Ron get together? Do my favorite characters survive? Does J.K. Rowling ever mention how to send in an application to Hogwarts?

I was so anxious to figure out what happened that I never read for substance — I only read for plot. I had to read read READ to quell my overwhelming curiosity.

There was a time in my life when I had only read the series once. At that point, I had no clue what a fantastic writer J.K. Rowling was. I just knew every plot detail of the Potter series, and I looked no further.

But this summer, I took the time to re-read two of the books, and this time, I read for pleasure. I already knew what happened, so I could take my time and enjoy the journey Rowling laid out for me.

And I was startled to discover that the series is mind-bogglingly successful not just because of the magic and the imagination therein — it’s also popular because Rowling is actually a brilliant writer!

My whole life I had always dismissed Rowling as simply a fantasy writer who made it big because of the inherent human fascination in magic and a world beyond our own — I had never considered the fact that the success of the books had anything to do with Rowling’s own talent as a wordsmith.

I had always taken for granted how vivid Rowling made every scene appear; how she made characters pop from the storyline; how she made you believe these people were real and how she conveyed their emotions so clearly and perfectly that you felt them yourself as you read.

I never noticed how meticulously she placed her words and details. Re-reading the series (with a prior knowledge of how the novels end) showed me that every single detail Rowling ever references throughout the novels has a reason — and its significance is delicately woven into the tapestry of the storyline so beautifully that one doesn’t even notice it’s there — certainly not a frazzled 12-year-old who is reading the book with the fervor of a Spartan at battle, yearning to find out what happens next.

When you read the Potter series for pleasure, you gradually start to notice the beauty of Rowling’s prose and the depths of her thoughts. You appreciate the images she conjures and the world she has plucked from the colorful wonderland that is her imagination.

I’m telling you — if you’ve read the Potter series once, that just isn’t enough. Just do this for me: take one sunny afternoon, a plate of cookies, and your favorite Potter book and start reading … again. You’ll be glad you did.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gus hastalis permalink
    August 2, 2010 2:29 pm

    Beautifully stated Emilia.

  2. August 4, 2010 6:13 pm

    Does she mention how to send in an application to Hogwarts?!!

    And I agree – read them all and read them again and then again. Just don’t read them too close to watching a new movie – or do and expect disappointment.

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