Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Second Time Around

Tonight – or rather, this morning – I finished re-reading “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” for the 2nd time – a year and 10 days after I finished it the first time. (Yes, I waited in line until after midnight to get my book in the wee hours of July 21st, 2007.  The proof is in the picture to the left and here.)

The first time through, I read hungrily yet hesitantly, wanting to know, but not.  The first time through, I had to stop after the chapters called “Kreacher’s Tale,” “The Silver Doe,” and “King’s Cross” because they were so earth-shattering, my mind couldn’t continue for its racing.  The first time through, I sobbed over Dobby’s sacrifice, but not over Harry’s, because I felt in my heart  – or maybe I wished – that there had to be a happily-ever-after in store for him after all he had endured and learned.

This time it was different, of course.  I started with “Half Blood Prince,” because I’d read all the others at least twice, some many more times, but not “Half Blood Prince” and not “Deathly Hallows.”  This time, on reading HBP, I cried at the shocking part, because I knew it was real, he was gone.  The first time through, I was waiting for the twist that never came, sure that Mrs. Rowling meant a different reality to reign.  It was much more poignant this time around.

This time I got to move right from HBP onto DH without having to wait the eternity it seemed to take her to write the last chapters of the final book of the saga.  What a relief!  This time, I read DH more carefully, noting a few – but not many – details I missed the first time around and marvelling at the plot twists and turns that I had forgotten in the years since my last read.  This time, fewer tears were shed over Dobby, though that chapter will always have a soft spot in my heart.  But this time, I did cry over Ms. Rowling’s favorite chapter of the series, “The Forest Again.”  In it (or just before it), she clearly points out that Harry must die, a not-so-minor detail I missed in my haste to learn his fate.  And Lupin and Tonks – yowza.  Get me some tissues.  Last year’s shock turned into this year’s sorrow.

But the fiercest tears were reserved for Harry’s use of the Resurrection Stone.  Lupin again, and James, Lily, and Sirius (STILL not a character I like) – but curiously, no Dumbledore.  I’ll have to explore that omission in the discussion boards at The Leaky Cauldron someday.  Even knowing what was coming – or perhaps because I knew – the tears flowed.  Little details of plot and battle came clear, made more sense this time.

And finally the epilogue – truly one of my favorite parts of the entire series.  So much like real life, circles within circles, history laughingly, lovingly repeating itself.

Say what you like, but Ms. Rowling is a genius and the world she created, a classic.  I will be re-reading this series for decades to come.  Emily, who just turned 9, has already read the entire series – 3 times in the last year!  And Megan, who just turned 7, is three quarters of the way through Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time.  It will be interesting to hear how their perceptions of the books change as they get older, if they ever choose to share that information with me.

For now, I bid farewell to Harry and his world for a few short months when the movie adaptation of HBP comes out!

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Read Any Good Books Lately?

June is mere weeks away, and that means summer reading time is here! I’ll be looking for a few good books to read. Do you have any recommendations?

I have only 4 books on my list right now:

1. Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture.” I’m currently 17th in line for it at the local public library, so it might be a while yet!

2. “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, only because I’ve heard a few people talking about it and it’s popped up on a few blogs.

3. Cokie Roberts’ “Founding Mothers: The Women who Raised our Nation” recommended by my DAR chapter regent who is an avid reader.

4. I would also like to read Diane Rehm‘s book “Finding my Voice” as she is an NPR radio talk show host who I very much admire.

I also need to catch up with authors Tami Hoag and James Patterson. And I might do a little Harry Potter review reading, since there’s another movie due out this fall and oldest daughter Emily has now read book 7 more than I have!

Now, I am a fast reader, so that whole list of books up there will only get me a few weeks into June. I need more ideas!

How about you? What books do YOU hope to read this summer? Tell me via the comments and maybe I an expand my reading list.

Dumbledore: Does it Matter?

In the most earth-shattering Harry Potter news since book 7 was released this past July, author J.K. Rowling revealed at a reading at Carnegie Hall last night that she “always thought of Dumbledore as gay.”

harry-potter-7-release-night-in-hudson-oh.jpgAs a devoted Harry Potter fan (albeit a relative Johnny-come-lately since I didn’t catch on to the pheonomenon until 2002, several years after book 4 was published and before book 5), I must admit that I was shocked by this news – but mostly because that possibility had never really entered my mind! I regularly read The Leaky Cauldron for all news Potter, but I don’t read or post on Potter chat boards or read fan fiction where Dumbledore’s sexual orientation had apparently been questioned before.

I knew immediately that this news would cause a huge uproar, so it’s been interesting to watch the comments on Leaky and in blogs across the ‘net.

There are two sad things happening. First, that SO MANY people are saying that this news will give “Christians” another reason to hate the book. Those folks are very wrong. I believe that people who oppose the content of the book in the name of Christianity are misappropriating the title (of “Christian,” that is). The central message of the series isn’t witchcraft or homosexuality, but the power of pure, selfless love. And that’s the ultimate message Christ was sent to earth to reiterate to humanity.

The second sad thing I see is people questioning their own love of the character based on this new information. What has changed about Dumbledore? Not one thing, really! So why would someone who loved the character before feel any different today?

When I was in college, a dear friend of mine revealed that he was gay. I was taken aback at the time, and unsure how I would – or should – interact with him. But after much thought, I realized that not one thing had changed. Everything I loved about him as a person and a friend was just the same. He hadn’t chosen to be this way – no one grappling with the pain of denying who (s)he is for years upon years would choose that struggle – but even if he had, I don’t think it would have mattered.

Some people are criticizing Rowling for revealing this information about Dumbledore. I’m seeing comments like, “If his sexual orientation was so important, why didn’t she make it more apparent in the books?” The answer is that it WASN’T important! In fact, she revealed this aspect of the character for the same reason she has been revealing so many deeper aspects of so many of the characters – in response to direct questions from fans who, like me, have been so drawn into the multi-dimensional characters she created and fleshed out that we just can’t learn enough about them. (Thank heavens they are only characters in a book because it’s positively voyeuristic the way we crave more details about their lives!)

I’ve also seen some comments now criticizing Rowling’s humanization of Dumbledore in book 6 and 7, questioning whether she is somehow stereotyping homosexuals by making him more human. This is just patently ridiculous. In contrast to the first 5 books, when the character is less developed and more single-sided, the Dumbledore we know and love by the end of book 7 is revealed as more human, more capable of human failings and frailties, and yet more heroic and beloved in spite of – and possibly because of – them. In this age of flat, one-sided fantasy t.v. characters, Rowling’s devotion to very imperfect human characters is admirable.

[By the way, please don’t misunderstand me. I do NOT think homosexuality is an imperfection. Dumbledore’s human frailties, as discussed in the books and by Rowling herself, include an early lust for and potential to abuse power, a desire to manipulate and control people around him, and the tendency to trust people who perhaps should not be trusted.]

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