The book that instantly popped into my mind was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
I first read it when Elaine was a baby, so about 16 or 17 years ago, a few years after it had first come out. I think friends were reading it for a book club. At the same time my dad had been introduced to it by another English-professor friend, and it was all very exciting.
What a world: wizards who were children and the idea of a whole school full of them; Muggles who couldn't see the entrance to Diagon Alley; and kids vanishing through onto Platform 9 3/4. The horrible Dursleys and the gigantic Hagrid.
The genius of those books was in the little details. The minor characters and the little asides. Hagrid knitting his yellow sweater, the scene in the wand shop. Owls delivering the mail. The first flying lesson; quidditch, for heaven's sake... How did she invent all these things? Amazing imagination.
After the first four books, which I read more or less all at once, we preordered the books as they were published, and raced to read them. I had thought the kids would read them when they were around 10 or 11, the age of the characters in the first book. How wrong I was! Elaine practically learned to read with these books, and by the time Book 6 came out, she was tearing through it with me.
Kids won't have that experience again with these books. They were so omnipresent; it seemed like everybody from elementary school to the old folks' home was reading the same book at the same time, all over the world! The anticipation, that feeling when you go into a book store and see boxes and boxes of the same book, all preordered and all about to be excitedly devoured. You'd see a person on the subway or in the store, with a corner of the book poking out of their bag, and ask how far they'd got, did they like that bit about....
I read at least four of the books before seeing a movie. I could see the Reptile House and Gringotts and the Forbidden Forest.
|From Pinterest. I wish I knew who the artist is.|
But nowadays, Harry looks like Daniel Radcliffe and Hermione doesn't really have bushy hair. The first movie was pretty good, but they soon went downhill and by the last few I forked over my money to see them rather grudgingly, duty-bound. Don't get me started...
I'm sorry to say that these books don't actually improve on re-reading. Well, okay, for the first dozen times, yes. But even at the height of our Pottermania, the kids and I had a list of questions we would ask JK Rowling if we ever met her, and it got quite long. Things don't quite work... a whole book relies on someone doing something stupid, or not doing something simple that they should have done. (Just a word to Dumbledore, please!) Elaine has got into the fandom thing, and says that while most online fan groups talk about how great things are with Dr Who or the Marvel comics or Steven Universe, the Potter fandom talks about how things could have been better.
But, wow, I would really like to have again that thrill that came with going down Diagon Alley or riding a broom for the first time!
(I've found some art that is supposed to be book-based, at DeviantArt.)
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