Well, all. While Luke has been a good post-er and has been telling you all at least what he’s been reading, I have been reading on the sly.
Reading quite a lot, actually, since school got out.
Every summer I make a list of the books I’ve read on a standard sheet of college-ruled paper (but I am no longer ruled by college! YES) that I keep somewhere near the haphazard organization of books (i.e. piles– Finished Reading, In Process of Reading, To Begin, On Indefinite Haitus–this last stack is usually nearer my shelf than my bed, the latter of course being a sanctum for reading as it is in many bedrooms). According to this list, I’ve read the following:
- A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
- Stitches by David Small
- Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
- The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (as she is author of all other HP’s listed below)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Looking for Alaska by John Green (in this gap here, the Order of the Phoenix wasn’t available at my library, so I had to make do with this jewel of a book and the literary-lampooning cookbook below–not a bad trade-off but still a trade-off)
- Kafka’s Soup by Mark Crick
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (though I did get it on CD so I wouldn’t get “behind” until I realized it took four and a half hours to get through 120 pages. )
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
- A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
- Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
- The Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory
Currently reading: Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon, Teach Yourself Visually: Excel 2007
On deck (so to speak): The Man Born to Be King by Dorothy L. Sayers and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
That looks like a lot more than it feels, strangely enough.
I wish I’d had energy to write about each of these books right after I’d read them, but I didn’t. Honestly, I wanted to READ THE NEXT ONE ALREADY (esp. with the HP series) and didn’t feel like writing a “reflection.” I cannot tell you how many “reflections” I’ve written in the past 4 years as an English major. But I do have to say that Young Adult reading is some of the most therapeutic reading anyone can treat themselves to after a major trauma like graduation/senior theses (no offense, DFW. See, I read your book first when I got home!). The biggest segment of this list obviously concerns the adventures of the Boy Who Lived.
I had never read Harry Potter before this summer (shock&horror, especially for Luke who grew up with Harry like most of the kids in my generation). There was the weird reason: Christian Parenting Magazines said Harry’s adventures involved the “occult” and would make kids want to be witches and wizards and confuse reality with fiction and therefore should be banned!!!11 After reading the series myself, I wondered if those C. P. Magazines had ever cracked the books to see what they were about–which was a whole bunch of affirming things like friendship, loyalty, your homework coming in handy for Real Life (it is possible), bravery, adventure, sacrifice, humor, and imagination. Of course, the C.P.M.’s are looking out for the kids (similarly concerned parents banned Pokemon from my Christian school because of “demonic” reasons, but I really think they didn’t want us fighting over cards at recess), but give kids some credit. Kids are pretty savvy at figuring things out–how the world works, what’s real, what’s not, what they may wish was real but isn’t. I really dislike the BANBANBAN-everything-with-a-hint-of-bad mentality. I am SO not for censoring or restricting books based on one thing (be it language or content) without consideration of the whole. Often doing that with kids just makes them want to read it more anyway.
My second reason for not reading Harry Potter: I don’t like following fads. I just don’t. I’ll admit that I’m a Hypocritical Contrarian/ Closet Hipster(?), because I have been a rabid fan of something for most of the major periods of my young life. Star Wars. Star Trek. Lord of the Rings. Anime/Manga. (*cough* David Foster Wallace.) I think I could only be a fan of one thing at a time. I was already suspicious of HP thanks to the overriding fandom–I wanted to read it when the hype had died down a bit so I could enjoy it on its own terms.
And I did. I’m so glad I read the series, and in a way, I’m glad I waited for so long. I could see the appeal of the series because even as a semi-jaded postgrad who could see the weaker parts of Ms. J.K.R’s writing and plotting, she could still draw me into the world of her books and her characters’ lives and worries. Her comedic timing is marvelous and she captures what a classroom feels like, even in a place removed from my non-magical experience. It deserves all the hype and all the love it has received and will receive in years to come (not that it needed my stamp of approval w/r/t this, but…stamping awayyyy). My formerly non-Potter loving family has gone, in a year or so, from little knowledge of the series to dressing up on the last opening night, all the books read, all the movies seen, Tumblr-ing/youtubing, whittling and painting their own wands, deeply in love with Harry Potter.
So…sorry all you CPM-readers who believed them. You don’t know what you’re missing.
P.S. I just might write about some of these other books later.