Saturday, December 8, 2018

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



I have finally read J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. One can say that I am late to the party on this one. However, the fact that I rarely read very new books and that this book was written within the past 25 years means that this novel is practically a new release for me. Like many others, I found this book entertaining, enjoyable and well worth the read. 

If anyone is unfamiliar with the plot, infant Harry Potter is left orphaned when his wizard parents are killed by the evil Lord Voldemort. Harry is raised by ignorant and repressive family members until his eleventh birthday. At that time, he is taken to Hogwarts, a boarding school for wizards. Here he meets a host of new characters, both friendly and no so friendly. Fellow students include his best friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley as well as the nasty, bullying Draco Malfoy. The professors include Albus Dumbledore, a great wizard and headmaster of the school, the large, imposing but friendly gamekeeper Hagrid and the dark and seemingly hostile professor Severus Snape. Harry encounters all sorts of wonderous and magical objects, creatures and adventures at Hogwarts and eventually confronts Lord Voldemort.  Rowling has created a wonderfully imaginative world and written a novel that is very, very fun and pleasant to read. 

There has been so much said about this book that it seems redundant to write a conventional review or analysis.  Instead, I want to share a few thoughts on one the things that I believe make this book so popular.  Harry Potter has generated enormous fame. In addition to the books, the phenomenon has expanded to films, amusement parks, plays and more. Tens of millions of people love this series. People have told me that the only books that they have read in the past ten years are the Harry Potter books. I should mention that I have a kind of instinctual suspicion of things that are this popular and this commercialized. However, I can say that in my opinion, at least the first book is excellent and the films are very good. The story also manages to avoid many of the clichés that characterize modern trends that I have come to dislike such as snarky and cynical young people. There are also corporations that are making a lot of money from all this, but there are many cultural trends that are a lot worse than Harry Potter that people are making a lot of money off of. 

It all started with this book. There are many reasons for its popularity. The world that Rowling has created is magical and would be a fun place to visit or even live in. I could list a lot of other reasons why people love the series and this book in particular. There is one interesting reason that struck me that exhibits itself in this first book. It gets to Harry Potter’s childhood. For the first ten years of his life Harry is raised by the Dursleys. Though at times they are portrayed comically, this is a family of bullies and abusers. They constantly put Harry down and heap excoriation upon him. Their son, Dudley, meters out physical abuse upon Harry as the Mr. and Mrs. Dursley all but egg him on. What is more, the family is not just intellectually Harry’s inferior, but they have no imagination. In fact, they are hostile to the concepts of wonder and creativity. Dudley never touches the books that he is given as gifts. The entire family hates the magical world that Harry and his parents are a part of. When Harry shows some glimmers of magic, they react with hostility and use this as an excuse to further bully him.

Early in the book, it is observed that the Dursleys are ashamed of their magical relatives, The Potters, 

The Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. They didn't think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters. Mrs. Potter was Mrs. Dursley's sister, but they hadn't met for several years; in fact, Mrs. Dursley pretended she didn't have a sister, because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband were as unDursleyish as it was possible to be. The Dursleys shuddered to think what the neighbors would say if the Potters arrived in the street. The Dursleys knew that the
Potters had a small son, too, but they had never even seen him. This boy was another good reason for keeping the Potters away; they didn't want Dudley mixing with a child like that.

Later Mrs. Dursley comments about her deceased sister, 

"my dratted sister being what she was? Oh, she got a letter just like that and disappeared off to that-that school-and came home every vacation with her pockets full of frog spawn, turning teacups into rats. I was the only one who saw her for what she was -- a freak! But for my mother and father, oh no, it was Lily this and Lily that, they were proud of having a witch in the family!" 

Thus, Harry is special. But he is a special person raised by people who are unable to understand his specialness and are in fact hostile to it. I believe this is a feeling that many bright and gifted young people have. I think that such people often fantasize about other special people showing up and whisking them away to another world where their gifts are appreciated or are at least useful, just like what happens to Harry.  Often such feelings last until adulthood. Obviously, all this represents a desire to escape from the real world. I think that having occasional thoughts of this sort are as normal as they are common. I also think these that fantasies touch a lot of people, both young and old, in a special way. 

The Dursleys have no redeeming qualities. They are purely driven by ignorant viciousness.  Sadly, at least outwardly, some people like this exist in the real world. Thus, I will not say that this family is entirely unrealistic. Furthermore, there surely have been folks who have experienced such abuse, and worse, who relate to Harry Potter’s predicament. However, for many fans, though they were not raised by people like the Dursleys, this family represents everything in the world that is mean, nasty and hostile to people who are imaginative and creative.  With that, I think that if the Dursleys were portrayed with more nuance, this part of the book might have been stronger. If they had shown some humanity, along with their bad traits, I think that Harry’s plight might have been more interesting. 

I have praised this book and I have talked about the popularity of it and the cultural trends that have grown up around it. I should note however, that not everyone loves Harry Potter. Several literary critics, including Harold Bloom, have criticized Rowling for being an unskilled writer and being derivative of other authors. Not everyone that I know loves the books or the films. With that, the great popularity of these stories is undeniable and no matter how ones feels about it, it is worth asking why so many people love it. 

Like so many others, I enjoyed this book immensely. I will likely go ahead and read the entire series. My memory of the films leads me to believe that there are a lot of threads between the books that can get confusing if the novels are read with too much time in between. Thus, I might try to read them straight through. I am not sure if I will need a break between them, however. Either way, I will update my progress here.  

55 comments:

thecuecard said...

Hi Brian: glad to see you are trying Harry Potter out. I admit I only read the first Book as well back in the 90s. but I haven't read the entire series. It felt a bit for kids -- though I know adults can enjoy them too. I guess Harry is popular b/c maybe he's an underdog and/or a bit misunderstood / & he has a magical specialness for sure - that some don't see. He has to confront the evil Voldemort ... and many love that .... age-old dilemma of good vs. evil. The tales and education of Harry along the way are entertaining, as well as the various characters. Enjoy.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Susan - The fact that this was clearly written for younger folks did not seem to bother me, at least in this book. There are a lot of other reasons that folks love this series, the good verses evil thing is a good example.

Sharon Wilfong said...

I felt you gave a very good review of this book. However, Potter has never been my cup of tea. I never read the books, but saw the first two movies. I could see how people would find the concept and story appealing, but I felt the characters, especially Harry Potter's aunt and family were a little too one-dimensional.

I'll still be reading your future reviews of the series, however.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Sharon- The Characters were indeed one dimensional. This is especially true of the Dursleys. I think that maybe I should do a comprehensive review of the whole thing to touch upon the negatives.

mudpuddle said...

spot on... i felt a bit embarassed about reading this back when it first came out but i did read at least one more, i think... but i think you're right on about its appeal to the underdog archetype: there are a lot of persons out there who have experienced similar situations, especially in their youth... somehow, reading this must key into some sort of justification and personal support on a very basic level... hence it's popularity; and there's no question it's a fun book; i think i'll go on and finish the series also... perceptive post... tx

Brian Joseph said...

H Mudpuddle- It is s really fun book. The point about personel support is a good one. I am going to give the entire series a try.

Laurie @ RelevantObscurity said...

Really good insights, Brian. I just reread this, because when I found out about it the third one was about to be published and I rushed to catch up. I always felt I missed some things.

One of the points you raised about Harry growing up in such an abusive home really struck me this time around. I may not have grasped at my first read that he lived in that atmosphere for 10 years. 10 years is a long time to experience such violent mental and physical abuse and neglect. And he was beaten by Dudley's classmates at school. To have survived this in real life I think would have left more scars than just the one on his forehead.

It will be interesting to see what you think of the rest of the titles. They became less for children, imo, at least younger readers as the volumes came out. The darkness is real! I am going to reread the second one soon and then I'll decided if I want to do a complete reread.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Laurie - I also thought about how long Harry was exposed to the abusive environment. As you mention, and I recall from the films, the stories get darker and more adult. It would have been interesting If Rowling had explored this a bit more.

James said...

While I guess I read more contemporary novels than you do, this is one of only two Harry Potter books I've read. I enjoyed this book when I had the opportunity to read it while visiting my sister who is a grade school librarian. I managed to make it through the second volume in the series, but have not taken the time to read more. I understand why it is so popular and I am encouraged that it inspired so many new readers. Thanks for your commentary - I'll look forward to future reviews.

CyberKitten said...

I'm afraid that I'm with Harold Bloom on this one. I found it badly written (being essentially a children's book is no excuse) and highly derivative. I can understand why it's popular but struggle to understand why it's *so* popular. I read the first three books (I think) and saw the first two movies hoping both would get better. I gave up at that point and moved on.

I think it's great that these books got a lot of kids reading that don't normally read but hope that they've moved on to something much better.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi James - I tend to be a "completest" so unless I seriously start to dislike the books I will probably read them all. I would also say that these books also inspired a lot adults to read.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi CyberKitten - You raise an interesting point that I did not address. That is, I do not think that anything really justifies the level of popularity that this series has reached. With that I see why it is popular. As I recall from the films, starting with the third one they became darker and more adult. That is not to say that they got better. Though I saw them all and liked them all I do not really remember if I liked any of them better.

The Bookworm said...

Hi Brian, I am glad you are reading the HP books and enjoying them. I have been looking forward to your thoughts on these.

The Dursleys are definitely awful to Harry, we do keep seeing them in the following books.
You know what I loved about this series was just the way Rowling brought these characters to life and made them tug at your heartstrings. I'm a fan of the 'underdog' and Harry became a favorite. I read the series twice to catch things I had missed. She does a fantastic job at writing characters that are both good and bad as well. I just love the wisdom from Dumbledore even though I found him impulsive and careless even sometimes. I enjoyed the world building and the adventure too and it's one of the few times I liked the films just as much and they were so well cast. These books made me tear up at times. So many characters to root for and it's crazy to think of how popular this all became too with the theme parks and whatnot.

Also these are books that get children excited about reading so that is wonderful. Looking forward to your thoughts on the rest of the series if you read it.
Happy weekend :)

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Naida - This book does indeed draw the reader in. I think that. at least in my next blog I am going to explore the concept further. These really have gotten both children and adults excited about reading.

So many books, so little time said...

Brian this post makes me so so happy and FINALLY a book I have read that you have now read - this may be a first for us!

I re read chapter 1 last week on my phone & think I will reread the whole set, I LOVE these books/movies. I think they bring so much joy to so many, loved by kids and adults and have so many great life lessons in them xxx

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Brian Joseph said...


Hi Lainy - I see why you love the series so much. I did enjoy the films. I think that there were a few books that we read in common before. Are you on Goodreads? We should compare books.

Judy Krueger said...

What I liked about reading the further books was watching Harry grow up, along with all the other good things you mentioned. The books get longer and longer and finally I bogged down after book 5 and never got back to read the last two. Someday I will but I will for sure have to start over!

Kathy's Corner said...

Hi Brian, The Harry Potter books are so popular and that can't be an accident, tnere has to be something about these books that have so many hooked. Your review is the push I need to finally give at least the first Harry Potter book a try. I think as you say Harry Potter strikes a cord because many kids and adults feel discounted and in the case of kids bullied at school and this series and the Twilight books have really got kids reading.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Judy - I think that it will also be interesting for me watching Harry grow up. I tend to read very long books so I think that I will be OK with the later books in this series. For instance, I am currently reading Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Kathy - I think that the books are definitely worth a try. I think that these books have evan motivated some adults to start reading.

Stefanie said...

Glad you enjoyed the book! It seems like you have seen movies? How is it reading the book for the first time after that? I read all the books first, had some long day/night binge reading on day of publication starting with the third. It was fun. I thought the movies good but not nearly as rich as the books so I am curious about your reverse experience :)

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Stefanie- I have seen and liked all of the films. I tried to form my own picture of the characters and locations independent of the films. However it was not always successful and sometimes the movie imagery got in the way of my imagination.

mudpuddle said...

Brian: re your comment on my blog: for some unknown reason wordpress filed my reply to your comment below Scott's; it does that sometimes and i con't figure out why...

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Mudpuddle- No worries. Blogger does that all the time. I will check out your response in a couple of hours.

Stephen said...

I found this series late, too -- just after Deathly Hallows had been released. They're great fun, and inspiring as well.

Brian Joseph said...


Hi Stephen - I remember wanting to read the books books long ago. It just took a long time to get to them.

Tracy Terry said...

Yeah! Welcome to the HP Club.
I so agree with you and your analysis of gifted young people ... I think school is often a hard time for them, thank goodness Harry had Hogworts. As a teaching assistant (ex) it was my experience that of the children labelled as disruptive a high percentage of them were in fact gifted students who were bored OR were pupils who though not in the least academic were gifted in other areas ... alas none of them in History of Magic or Defence Against the Dark Arts let alone flying (as far as I knew anyway).

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Tracy - You raise a good point about gifted children as well as children who are labeled disruptive. I also think that kids who just show a spark of imagination, like to read, etc. can feel alienated and thus can relate to this story.

Sheree - Keeping Up With The Penguins said...

Hahahaha good on you Brian! Better late than never and all of that. I completely understand your inherent suspicion of commercial juggernauts. I think perhaps part of the reason that the first book in particular holds up so well is that it pre-dates the Harry Potter Mania. It's an earnest book, a charming book, and you can just PICTURE Rowling sitting in a cafe with her infant child, broke on her arse, writing it long-hand. At that time, she wasn't influenced by the massive social pressure that comes with having such an incredibly successful series - she was just writing a story that had come to her. Some of the later books, still enjoyable and fun to read, show some signs that she was aware of the impact she was having (along the lines of "oh, my readers are growing up now, I need to give them more Serious Stuff(TM), and kissing!"). That doesn't make them bad books - far from it! - just perhaps less innocent.

I think, whether they're "good" or "bad", we can all agree that Harry Potter effectively rescued literacy for Generation Y (myself included). The internet emerged while we were at school, smartphones as we entered adulthood, and I think it's quite likely that without the passion for books ignited by Rowling and Harry Potter, many among us would have happily forgotten about books altogether and immersed ourselves in the online world instead. Print books are defiantly and proudly not dead, and I think that can be at least partially credited to HP.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Sharee - It will be interesting as I read through the series to see how success may have changed Rowling’s approach. I guess this is something that may be true of other writers and I think that it is worth paying attention to.

You also raise the interesting point, that a few commenters touched upon, that this series seems to have gotten a lot of younger people reading. I wonder if anyone has tried to do studies or to put together data on this. With that, I tend to be optimistic about things like the future of reading.

Lindsay said...

Great to read your thoughts on this Brian, and so glad you enjoyed the book and that you'll carry on with the series. I was another who didn't read them all 'at the time', only later, and have very much enjoyed both the books and the films.

Maria Behar said...

YAAAAAAY FOR HARRY POTTER!!!!!! BRILLIANT ANALYSIS AS ALWAYS, BRIAN!!!!

WELCOME TO THE MAGICAL WORLD OF HARRY POTTER!!!! :) :) :)

As you know, I'm a HUGE Potterhead!!! And the irony is that I, too, resisted reading this series at first. I thought it was just "too childish". Oh, man, was I EVER wrong!! Yes, the main character is a child, but these books are hardly "childish"! They are SO symbolic, and SO WONDERFUL, on SO many levels!!! Rowling is a true GENIUS. Her imagination is just SO AMAZING!!!

I have read the first book three times -- twice in English, and once in Spanish. When I read it in Spanish, I got just as much enjoyment out of it as I did when I read it in the original language. If my French weren't as rusty as it is, I'd read it in that language, too! And if I knew other languages, well, I'd read it in those, as well!!

I'm strapped for time right now, but I have more to say, of course! And I do need to finish reading the series..... This is because, in Book 6, I encountered a tragic event that made me unable to continue reading. That was some time back. But I STILL LOVE this whole world!!

Okay, so I'll be back!! I'm SO GLAD you finally read this book!! Hope you continue with the rest of them!!

Thanks for another GREAT review!!!! Wingardium leviosa!!!! <3 :)

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Lindsay. I also liked the movies. So far I am on book three and I still plan to keep going.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Maria. I actually thought that I would like these early on, but as we often say, there is so much to read.

It is so interesting that you also read this in Spanish. I do plan on continuing through the series. I am on book three now.

I am sorry to hear that your reading of the series derailed. Hopefully you will finish soon.

Maria Behar said...

Hi, again!

WOW!! You're on Book 3 now? AWESOME!! That's actually my favorite one of the series! (Well, from the ones I've read so far.)

I just wanted to add that one-dimensional characters in literature are not my preference, either. But the thing is, one DOES encounter such characters in real life, as well. Take Hitler, for instance. Or Fidel Castro. Or heck, going back in history, Caligula. Do any of these people have any redeeming qualities? None that I know of! (Yes, I've heard somewhere that Hitler loved his dog. BIG FREAKING DEAL.) They were consistently evil. In the case of the Dursleys, I can tell you that I have met "a real-life Dursley". Yes, indeed! This man was just HORRIBLE. He was a TYRANT, a bully. Unfortunately, he was the brother of a friend I had in college.

One day, I was invited to dinner at their house (my friend lived with this guy, his wife, and their son, who could do NO WRONG in the eyes of this BULLY).

Well, I decided to help out by setting the table. While I was doing so, I noticed a very fine-quality glass with a hairline crack in it. (I did wonder why they were using such fine glasses for a regular dinner.) I told the man's wife about this crack. Well, the woman started LECTURING me on the importance of being CAREFUL when setting the table. I started to protest that I had done NOTHING to the glass. I had simply noticed the hairline crack in it. Heck, it would have been better if I hadn't mentioned it.... Well, of course, she TOTALLY IGNORED ME, and took the glass over to show her husband, this REAL-LIFE DURSLEY S.O.B. I was still in the dining room. Suddenly, I heard the sound of smashing glass, coming from the kitchen. I was like, what the HECK happened? So I went over to take a look. The man was standing there, scowling at the pieces of glass, which were all over the floor. When he saw me come into the kitchen, he GLOWERED at me. No joke. He had SMASHED THE GLASS ON THE FLOOR, in a fit of RAGE. Then you know what happened? HE ORDERED ME TO SWEEP UP THE BROKEN PIECES WITH A BROOM, AND THROW THEM IN THE GARBAGE. I kid you not.

Let me pause here. This is SO UNBELIEVABLE, and is SO ETCHED into my memory.... I STILL HATE THIS GUY.

(TO BE CONTINUED.....)

Maria Behar said...

(CONTINUED. I had to break up this comment into two parts, as the system wouldn't accept it. Lol.)

Well, I would love to state that I defied this bully, but I was around 21 at the time, and he was this big, hulking MOUNTAIN. So I meekly got the broom and dustpan, swept up the broken pieces, and put them in the garbage. THEN I FLED THE HOUSE. My friend later called me, apologizing for her brother. I continued to be her friend, but I NEVER went back to that house again. Nor did I EVER accept a ride from this man again. He used to take my friend and me to the movies and other places, since, of course, neither one of us had a car. So we started taking the bus, instead.

THIS MAN IS ONE OF THE REASONS I BECAME A FEMINIST. AND I WILL REMAIN ONE, TOO, AS LONG AS I DRAW BREATH.

So, there ARE real-life Dursleys out there. and they are indeed one-dimensional. They are UNRELENTING BULLIES.

I think this is part of the appeal of the Harry Potter series. Harry did NOT give in to these bullies. He persevered. Of course, Voldemort was a bully, as well, although he was a wizard. In this series, the bullies were sometimes magical, and sometimes non-magical, people. I'm pointing this out to counter the allegations of non-Harry Potter fans that ONLY non-magical people are portrayed as bullies in the series. Not so! Draco Malfoy, one of the students at Hogwarts, is also a bully, as you have pointed out. So is Severus Snape, one of the Hogwarts professors. You also mentioned him in your review. Both of these characters LOVE to actually TORMENT Harry.

In Book 5, you will meet yet another magical bully -- Dolores Umbridge. Oh, she's just as HATEFUL as the Dursleys and Voldemort!!

Anyway....as you can see, I LOVE this series!! So again, I think that a HUGE part of its appeal is the fact that Harry doesn't let all these bullies -- whether magical or non-magical -- get the best of him. NOPE!!! He just continues to fight the good fight!!

Hey, I think this is a GREAT idea for a blog post..... Lol. I think I'll write one! :)

I really do need to finish this WONDERFUL, EXCITING series!!

Thanks for the GREAT post!!! Accio, wand!!! <3 :)


Carol said...

Hi Brian, I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books & haven't ever been inclined to... I still haven't read Lord of the Rings. I listened to a podcast interview a little while back & these books were mentioned & the point was raised about their popularity with children. The person interviewed made the observation that for many kids, this is their first real interest in reading & the problem was that they had nothing else to compare the books to. I'm not really explaining that well, but I don't think it's a positive that kids get immersed in something to that extent and have no other experience to judge it by.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Carol - I think thaf anything this popular goes beyond what makes sense. I also think that if children do not go on to other reading after Harry Potter then that would be unfortunate. On the other hand, if these books spur an interest in reading then that is a very good thing.

There are some limited similarities between these books and Lord of the Rings. However, Lord of the Rings is a lot more literary in terms of plot, characters and prose, Lord of the Rings is a lot more literary, if that makes any sense.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Maria - This discussion has gotten me to thinking about simplistic characters. I think that they can be fun to read about. I also think that you are correct, there are some psychopaths out there, Hitler and probably Castro are good examples. It seems that the Dursleys also fit the bill.

Sorry about your experience with the guy you mentioned. I have run into such folks. He Probably knew that he could get away with acting like that because you were so young m. People like that are why we see the Dursleys as being realistic.

As I progress through the series I am seeing that there are all sorts of things relating to bullying behavior going on. Snape seems so much nastier then he did in the films.

You are correct, Harry does not give in to bullies. It does seem to be another reason for the series popularity.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Brian, you’ve only just discovered this series? Wonderful, and I hope you’ll read the rest! I have recently seen a young man in Year 4 discover it for the first time - he hadn’t even seen the films. It was fun to discuss it with him - he even commented on the covers and that Harry always got it wrong!

If you read the rest of the series, you’ll eventually learn the details of the wizarding world - an amazing bit of world building! You will find out why Petunia hates her sister’s world so much and at least one of the Dursleys will be redeemed.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Sue - Indeed this is my first time. As I mentioned I often am not at the forefront of cultural trends. With that, I have always liked fanciful stories. I also saw and liked the films so I am not completely unfamiliar with the whole thing.

I am already on book three and I am enjoying the series so far. I do not remember any of the Dursleys redeemed in the films so that will be a nice touch.

Rachel said...

I loved the humor of Harry Potter, though I agree that there is nothing new in the plot-line. In fact, I remember reading a rather hilarious (to me) review which claimed that another book about a wizarding school (I forget the name off the top of my head) which was written a good 10 years before Harry Potter was a knock off! And I also agree that her writing is amateur. It does get better as the series continues, though to be honest I like the first three the best. I prefer books that are written for middle schoolers rather than teens for some reason.

Caroline said...

Lovely, review, Brian. Even though I'm one of a few who did not like this at all. I read it ages ago, right after The Lord of the Rings and expected something similar. That didn't do this any good. I can see the appeal, of course I can. It's also possible I would enjoy it more now. Back then, I was still at uni, reading only very high brow books and a different kind of fanatsy. - classics mostly. I always admired the imagination though. The ideas are wonderful.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Rachel - So far, I found the second book the funniest. I thought that this book being written for such young people would bother me. I did not find that to be the case.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Caroline- I think that a lot of people do not care for this series. Some of those who love it just seem extra enthusiastic. In some ways this does not compare that well to Lord of the Rings. But as a more down to Earth fantasy series it worked well for me. I can see being in z certain frame of mind might prevent this book from clicking.

So many books, so little time said...

Hey Brian, yes I am you can find me here https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3642368-lainy

Would be interesting to see how many we have in common, I always get a wee bit delighted to see a title on here I have read or on my tbrm as we are very different readers for the most part so it is nice when we have a hit xxx

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks for the link. I sent you a friend request. Let’s see how our books match up!

Whispering Gums said...

My kids were just at the perfect age when these books started coming out, so I read the first couple out aloud to them - to my daughter in particular. I'm not a fantasy fan at all (as you know) but I really enjoyed this, and pretty much for the reasons you have given. I read the second one to my daughter, but by the third I got bored. I really don't do series. I did the same with a very popular Aussie YA series that was coming out when my kids were the right age. Fortunately, by the third Harry Potter my daughter was more than able to read them to herself so I left her to it.

BTW You do realise that you said "Philosopher's stone" but the cover you use is the American title "Sorcerer's stone"!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi WP - I think that these books would be great read aloud.

I actually am not a huge fantasy fan either. I have always been a lot more interested in harder science fiction. However, I have read and very much enjoyed Classic Fantasy like Lord of the Rings. If I like the books I often read series all the way through.

I actually realized the Philosopher/Sorcerer contradiction. As I understand it this book has gone under both titles. I like Philosopher betted but I liked this cover better.

JaneGS said...

I love the fact of Harry Potter--the enormous success of these books is one of the most positive things that has happened in my lifetime because it shows that most people value the specialness of the individual (as you wrote about so wonderfully) over the power of the bullies of the world.

J.K. Rowling was derivative, which is why the books resonate so strongly for so many. It's almost as if she tapped into the western world's collective unconscious.

Glad you've joined the party. My kids grew up with Harry and love him and relate to him.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Jane - The Specialness of the individual touching something in the world's collective unconsciousness is a good way to look at it. Harry is a good character to relate to.

baili said...

Wow!

What an incredibly insightful commentary Brain!!!

I totally agree with your point here that basic reason for the popularly of Harry potter is that most of people can relate to it very easily

Each of us want to overcome the odd situation of life with supernatural power and this story allow us to feel free for such fantasy .
Brilliantly written dear Brain!

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks so much Baili - Though I often say that good stories do not have to be related, when they are it tends to make them popular.

HKatz said...

Excellent review. I started reading the HP series in college during a finals week as a light reading escape from studying :) I don't think I read past the middle of Book 5, though. I'll be interested to hear more of your thoughts as the series unfolds.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Hila - The series is fairly long so I guess a lot of people have not finished. I will probably go all the way through.