17 July, 2008

Harry Potter I

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
J.K. Rowling

Bought this the other day for a pound because our othr copy is stuck in the USA and not likely to be here for months or more yet. This is the second time i have read the first book in the septology, and it was very interestng to go back after eight years and do it again.  Doing so, i found that there is one character who, to me, is permanently coloured by the portrayal given in the films, and that is Hagrid; when i think of Rubeus Hagrid as i read, i find i automatically think of him as portrayed by Robbie Coltrane, which is rather interesting, as Coltrane was apparently Rowling’s conception of Hagrid from the beginning ~ obviously, her writing reflected her conception, and the actor and directors have interpreted her well. There isn’t another character for which i can say the same thing; none of them is simply appalling, but none of them, going back to this book and then thinking through the lot, has the same resonance with my imagination as Hagrid.

Moving on, what can i say about this book this time through? Well, it was interesting to me to see how much i had forgotten. If you had asked me before i read it, i would have said that i remembered pretty much all of the book, the characters, the twists, the developments of the plot; after all, i haven’t fully reread it since we bought it, but i’ve seen the film several times, read all other six books, and read portions of this one numerous times. And, to be fair, i did remember the main structure of the book; i was surprised, however, several times as i read it this time, at what i had forgotten: There was more than i expected gone from my memory, which gave me some pleasant surprises as i read. It was, indeed, a pleasant expereicne to reread this book, which is a brilliant introduction to the septology: Rowling benefited from the editing she apparently didn’t get later on; she did not cram more between the covers than they could comfortably carry; the charactrs are presented to the reader in the best way possible, we are allowed to like or not each one correctly as we meet them, several times someone is introduced with humour (Fred, George, and Percy, for example). All in all, i really had a fun time racing through this book again. A pound well spent!

13 July, 2008

501 Books

501 Must-Read Books
edited by
Emma Beare

Sometimes i like lists like this, other times, not. This time, it’s not too bad; i disagree with some of the choices ~ what kind of a reader would i be if i didn’t! ~ but i agree with a lot. I took a couple of highlighters to the book as i read through it, one to indicate if iv’e read the book listed, another to show that we actually own it, here; there’d be even more showing if i had cheated and highlighted the ones i know we have back in America, but i didn’t, because that felt like cheating (after all, i don’t know that we’ll ever see them again [pause here to weep]). I once started keeping a list of books i wanted to read for one reason or another, usually because a writer i enjoyed or respected recommended them; i have not yet added any from this book to that list, and may find that i don’t ~ perhaps because there are too many, perhaps because it is a little against my principles to read something because i ‘ought’ to, and that is what this feels like. Nevertheless, there are several in here that i have been tempted to attempt to find and read. We’ll see, a couple of years from now perhaps, how this list of reviews looks: Will there be many more on it that i was urged to read by 501 Must-Read Books?