I feel a little guilty about not being into the whole Harry Potter phenomenon. After all, I'm a reader, an English teacher, and holder of a degree in English, and it should thrill me to be part of the reading festival that has followed J.K. Rowling's series.
Still, I read the first one, and was just non-plussed by it. It was a nice book, I guess, but it struck me as poor man's Roald Dahl.
I've heard that first book is the least exciting, least complex of the series, but I've still never bothered to continue on it. Plus, I'm so far behind now that it would take me forever to catch up, and I'd just rather read a long Russian novel that I've never read before, like Crime and Punishment, then to read six books in a series years after everyone else has read it. As my teaching career has matured, I've been tempted - one student, in particular, tells me that an English teacher missing out on this phenomenon is just sad - but there's always so much more to read rather than reading something everyone else is already reading. In the last 24 hours, I've devoured 225 pages of Jumpha Lahiri's The Namesake, for example, and it's superb. Now, I have to read it for school, plus write a test for it (hopefully this afternoon), but it would have been a great read even without the requirement.
I must admit, however, that hearing that Rowling has put some school politics, perhaps even veiled criticisms of high stakes testings, into her novels make me tempted to pick them up. But I've got several books staring at me on my shelves as it is (next up: Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin), and picking up Harry Potter just isn't a priority. And perhaps never will be, even though I feel a tad guilty about it. Admittedly, it was pretty cool to be on Rehoboth Beach on Saturday and see tens of people with the book in their hand, mere hours after it was released. But I was happy with my Jumpha Lahiri.
One bonus of not caring that much about the Harry Potter series is that I looked up the spoilers on the internet and didn't mind reading about them. I know how the series ends now. Not that I'll probably see any of the movies or anything, until I have kids myself, but that bit of pop culture knowledge is probably good to have.
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