on sisters, reading and HP

On one language exam in university, we were asked to write a short essay on whether the Harry Potter books had literary value. Mind you, this was a Russian language exam (Russian was one of my two concentrations in undergrad), so the likes of Tolstoy and Bulgakov were inevitably coming to mind in comparison. However, knowing that the point of the essay was to show off our language skills, I decided to ignore the masters and wrote something along the lines of the following.

When it comes to the Harry Potter books, I am personally not a fan. I tried reading the first one and swiftly got bored, so I dropped it never to pick it up again. However, my sister, who is 10 years my junior, was slowly growing up with the movies and loving everything even remotely related to them. Accompanying her to the cinema when one of the episodes opened, I casually asked if she had read the books. “There are books?!”, she enquired in shock. Now, my sister was never a fan of reading. In our literature-devouring family, it was incomprehensible to us that of all her childhood toys she was least interested in the picturebooks, there were wars over getting her to do her obligatory school reading, and however much she saw us sit down in an armchair with a book, she always prefered the TV. So when I first mentioned the Harry Potter books, she assumed they were made after the film. Nevertheless, she was interested, and asked for Dad to bring them home from the library. Now, I wasn’t living at home at the time, so for a while I had no idea what happened later. I assumed she would soon lose interest, especially considering that she had the so much easier option of the movies. So you can imagine my shock when, next Christmas, she squealed with joy after finding one of the Harry Potter books under the tree – even though it had been one she had already read! My parents glowed. So, several years later, when the final book came out, when it was still fresh enough to be impossible to obtain at the library, when my sister’s allowance was nowhere near big enough to be able to afford buying it, I put the 600-page monster under the Christmas tree with her name on it.

Do the Harry Potter books have literary value? I don’t know and don’t care to judge. But I know one thing. My sister, who had previously had to be held at gunpoint to pick up a book, read and read and read that Christmas night. She stayed up until 6am reading, and in two days told us all how happily it ended. And announced that she was starting over immediately. These books had made a reader out of her. For me, that’s value enough.

Yesterday, we went to see the latest film. I do like the films, especially when there’s plenty of Alan Rickman to drool over. ;) And, as many knitters have observed, plenty of lovely knits. So, after coming back from the theatre full of impressions, I thought it only appropriate to work on this. It’s a lovely pattern, free, and well-written, and bound to appeal to more than just fans. It’s coming out even nicer than I thought it would and I’m looking forward to showing you the FO soon.

In the meantime, happy Sunday everyone! :)

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About fridica

I started knitting completely by accident, when I was visiting my parents for a holiday in 2008. On a boring Sunday afternoon, I decided to dig through their stash of books to see if there was anything interesting to take back to my apartment. A knitting manual happened to be one of the books I found. I got curious, my mom immediately dug out her old needles and yarn stash (which she hadn’t used in a decade at least), and in a few minutes we were both casting on - she by memory, I by following the instructions from the book… :) Since I normally prefer learning from books, this was ideal.. I took the book home with me, and very very soon - I was an addict.

9 thoughts on “on sisters, reading and HP

  1. I so agree with you about HP. All my children ‘became readers’ through those books, and have stayed so, even though they can be quite scathing about them now. That’s value enough for me too – more than enough, in fact! And I do think JKR is amazingly inventive, even if the flatness of her prose sometimes frustrates me.

  2. See and I love the books! I just reread the third one for the third time. I have the American versions and the British versions! But to each his own, you’d have to torture me to get me to read any of the Twilight books!

    I enjoy the movies, but not as much as the books. The last movie was fantastic! But I loathed the 6th one because of the changes made, but I’m “okay” with it now.

    But I agree about them making readers out of non-readers. I even had a group of students that met at a bookstore each month with me for a HP event.

    I stumbled on this from another blog the other day and your sister might like it.
    http://www.jamespotterseries.com/wizard_index.html

  3. A friend who is a librarian told me that the HP books lead kids to read who would never have been caught dead with a book before. Then many of them kept reading. She says the Twilight books have done the same thing for middle-school aged girls. I’m with Tammy, not my thing at all but it does make me very happy that there are books out there that kids WANT to read and if they keep reading, it can’t be a bad things.

    Pretty little start-of-a-hat!

  4. I agree with you wholeheartedly. although the Potter books are not for everyone – they have introduced a whole generation to reading. I don’t think that it matters what book kids read as long as they experiance reading for enjoyment. and perhaps enjoy it enough they continue to read.

  5. What a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
    I must say I was dubious about them when I picked up my first HP book (a few years back). The first sentence is about the Dursley and Privet Drive, and it ends in: “…Thank you very much.”, which is meant sarcastic. I was hooked!
    I love their inventiveness (All sorts that include some disgusting flavours, how much fun has that got to be for kids?) and Quiddich and everything. The paintings that can move, just wonderful!
    I still need to get through the second half of the last one, then I’ll be hoping that JKR will write more books, whatever their subject may be.
    Good stuff.
    The knitting looks great too! Love the colour.

  6. Oh, I am a fan! A moderate one, I would say. I haven’t read all the books nor seen all the movies – I’m savouring them, you could say. But for me, the books are, as is usually the case, much better than the movies.

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