My Harry Potter Confession

I have a confession—I haven’t read Harry Potter. I haven’t seen any Harry Potter movies. I suspect I’m in the minority. With the final book a mere week and a day away from debut, I decided to come clean. In essence, I’m confessing to a case of the lazies. I never got around to reading the first books, then it became a challenge. How long could I go without “spoiling” the story? Apparently all the way.

I know some of the basics—character names, the death of a main character (but no name), story outline—but that’s it. No specifics. I’d always hear the speculation about story direction between books, but I never confirmed the validity of the predictions. The only J.K. Rowling I’ve read up to this point is an essay on her site about girls and weight.

Today, I bought the first three books in the series. I’m taking the plunge. With the end near, it’s ok to give in because I can read clear through from beginning to end without waiting. That’s the power of J.K. Rowling. My anticipation for Harry Potter reached a point where I’d rather know nothing than know a little and have to wait. The point has been made before, but it’s worth repeating: J.K. Rowling got a generation of kids to read.

In an earlier post, I highlighted the power of storytellers who have the power to draw out childish giggles and adult chuckles. Rowling is one of those storytellers. Her initial aim may have been children, but Rowling reaches both young and old, both readers and non-readers. And she has changed the way we think about children and reading. Before Rowling, I suspect book editors would scoff at a children’s book over 800 pages (820 to be precise in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), but the size of Rowling’s books never seemed to faze her devoted audience.

Here’s the lesson I take from Rowling: tell a story worth listening to, and you’ll have a captive audience. Rowling’s current success makes it easy to overlook the risk she took in the beginning. The first Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishing houses. (link) I wonder if the editors who rejected her have trouble telling a compelling story about why they passed.



7 Responses to “My Harry Potter Confession”

  1. July 16, 2007 at 6:01 am

    I didn’t start right away either on the “potter phenomenon”. I waited until after college graduation and sadly my mom saw me reading them and since she must do everything that is “current” for fear that she’ll be (i have no idea, i don’t understand) always picked up the next books via pre-order. I’m rereading the series now and there definitely is something that grabs us. I am in awe of master story tellers and have much to learn.

    Lastly, I’ve not preordered Deathly Hallows, but I probably will pick it up next weekend.

  2. 2 Britt
    July 16, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one to hold out.

  3. August 6, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    I held out on the hype until book 3 or so came out — I think the general atmosphere of “no good children’s books existed before Harry Potter!” rubbed me the wrong way. That said, I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole series and think it definitely joins my classic favorites!

  4. 4 Britt
    August 6, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    I also wondered if you could believe the hype. It seemed too good to be true. Harry Potter has leap frogged and become one of my all-time favorite series.

  5. 5 bipolarbear
    August 7, 2007 at 8:58 am

    I started when they first came out; the 9-year old cousin I was babysitting at the time was totally into HP. And I’m very glad to have spent the past reading and rereading them. Although I *still* haven’t read DH; I’m rereading OotP, then will go onto HBP before reading DH. It’s taunting me!

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