Potter, Harry

Question: Is the Harry Potter series really any good? I mean, are people reading Harry Potter because it is in fact “good,” or are people reading it at this point because everyone else is reading it, and it’s the thing to do? Kind of a mass hysteria. Either way, it certainly is a pop culture phenomenon.

When the books first began being devoured, librarians were, and are, happy that it got kids to read. However, the results of a a new study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, were just released that indicate reading is still declining among the young. So it seems that while kids are reading Harry Potter, they aren’t reading much else.

I seem to be in the minority thinking that the series is nothing more than an overblown children’s story. After all, it was published by Scholastic, who’s next most mature title is Clifford the Big Red Dog. I think the stories are entertaining, but I don’t think that many elements are very original. Rowling is certainly no Tolkien, yet she is now the second wealthiest person in Britain second only to the Queen… I can’t fathom it.

I’m ending this post with a quote from a colleague, who when asked what he thinks of the books said, “I don’t know, I just can’t respect any hero named, ‘Harry’.”

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~ by Woeful on July 21, 2007.

20 Responses to “Potter, Harry”

  1. I totally agreed with you. We are just facing what this area is about: marketing and brainwashing.
    Cheers.
    Patrice

  2. Thanks for stopping by Patrice.

  3. Please, don’t let J. K. Rowling kill Harry Potter. 🙂

  4. I happened to pick up the first book by chance before it was popular at an airport as something to read. I thought it was exceptional. I have read all of them and each one was just as good as the rest. I must say it’s sad if kids are only going to read this series just to get in on the craze and then never pick up another book. However, just cause it’s extremely popular now does not mean the writing or story is any less fantastic.

    Shame on those though that only watch the badly done movies to get in on the craze. They’re pathetically done and do not do justice to the books themselves. What a surprise.

  5. Hi Lisa! I’m not saying the books aren’t worth a read, they certainly have entertainment value. My question is really about whether or not they deserve the kind of hysterical attention they’re eliciting? I mean, the idea of a “magic school” isn’t a new one, and a hero who resembles Waldo isn’t exactly the classical ideal…

  6. Terry Pratchett deserves to be richer, I’ll say that.

  7. One thing I will say, is that Quidditch is a cool, and innovative creation that has rightfully made its way into the popular lexicon.

  8. I’ve read none of the Potter series even though I have a 13-year-old son (who was less than impressed with the one book he did read). The marketing machine behind Rowling made this what it is – a pop culture phenom. The true test will be whether the series has staying power or not. Let’s see who says “Harry who?” in 2017.

  9. Indeed, ultimately time will tell. That said, a lot of people really love the stories, and will undoubtedly pass that along to future generations. Rowling certainly has struck a cord with the masses, to the tune of $1 billion and counting… Kudos to her going from broke to a billion within a decade!

  10. I made it almost 1/2 way through the first book, then put it down. I just couldn’t get into it, and I generally enjoy fantasy. (I also generally enjoy children’s books, so it wasn’t that aspect that bothered me either.) I didn’t like Harry, and I didn’t care what happened to him. I also haven’t seen the movies. *shrug* I’m glad others are enjoying them, but I’m sick of the hype. My library bought 29 copies of the new book!

  11. Welcome PL! Thanks for visiting. “Potter” represents a significant portion of our fiction collection a well… Like you wrote, it’s nice to see others enjoying them (or reading at all), but the hype is a little more than a little nutty at this point.

  12. Yes there are some people out there who are only reading the books because of the hype and popularity, but most people aren’t, because they are engrossed with the story (despite how bad you think the writing or stories may be, most people don’t feel that way about them). I read the book because I was desperate to know how it ends, and what happens. Other people are reading the latest book because they want some closure to the series that they invested their time in.

    And although the series may have started out as a children’s story, it is anything but that now. Each book has appropriately matured along with the main characters themselves. This book is now concerned about war, death, fear of corrupt government control. These themes are not normally considered synonymous with “Child theme”.

    It almost seems that the person who wrote this entry has jumped on the “Anti Harry Potter” bandwagon. It’s ok not to like it, but to so vehemently cry “Harry Potter sucks!” sounds like the call of someone who is doing it to either try to sound better than others or make themselves stand out.

    I’m not accusing the author of this post of the *LAST* thing I just mentioned, but I’m seeing that an awful lot lately.

  13. It has been great for my family – everyone from 67 yr old Dad to five-year-old nephew is in on it, and two of my nieces have grown up with Harry. Very accessible, fast-paced, and genre transcending storylines make it fun for all of us.

  14. My belief and feeling is that over-hyped books tend to have very little real meat to them. They are written for mass audiences to create profit for a few. The “Davinci Code” is a shining example of how marketing can turn a poorly written story into a firestorm. Just my two cents.

  15. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I think the books have no value, it’s great they’re getting people to read, it’s just the level of hysteria is revolting to me… As it was with The DaVinci Code and also with Titanic… And I enjoyed The Code.

  16. Yes, the hysteria is too much, but I really enjoyed the books, and felt they weren’t just churned out for profit. I dismissed them at first, after hearing something about plagiarism. My boss suggested I read them, she loved them, and thought I would too. This was before the hype got really bad– I read the first four one after the other. I really enjoyed the last book, and I’m now re-reading them to see just how much she was able to tie everything together at the end. I’d hesitated responding when I first read this the other day. But, thought I’d throw my .02 in. I was discussing it with a librarian co-worker– we really loved the books for the books themselves–we didn’t read them because of the hype.

  17. Hello lemurtx! Thanks for commenting. Feel free to leave your thoughts here anytime.

  18. Hi,

    Here is my opinion : HP is cool … nice story, nice universe, nice mythology … it became a cult. Personally I’m a fan. I’m really picky on the books I read (Only a selected few author have made me finish there book … like 5% of what I read).
    I’d like also to correct an error you made in the post. J.K.Rowlings is not the 2nd richest woman in Britain after the Queen,BUT The Queen is the 2nd Richest woman in Britain after J.K.Rowlings … in fact it depends if you count the real estate possessions in the count (castles, etc ) as J.K.R. made her fortune by herself, while the Queen was just born in the right family (that’s what’s called a dynasty you know).

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/2979033.stm

  19. Yeah, I’m talking total net worth including all possessions… If you count slaves as well, Rowling seems to have the edge. In all seriousness, the general consensus seems o be that the books have gotten progressively richer and more adult as the series has gone on. Of course, that would mean that people would have to make it through the first book, I didn’t. Nor have several people I know. That said, we are still in the minority, except for those who don’t even care enough about the story to briefly consider it… They outnumber us both.

  20. I have enjoyed the HP series. The first book I read was actually not me reading at all, but listening. I was on a 28 hour road trip, driving by myself, tired as anything, and desperate enough to stop at a restaurant/store that had this deal where you purchase a book-on-tape, and resell it to another of their restaurant/stores later on, with the resell price dependent on how long you had the book. You essentially rent it, but if you never bring it back, you’ve bought it. Anyway…I had a car that only had a cd player, and the only books-on-cds they had unabridged were HP books.

    The person they had reading the story was awful, but that book got me through the 23 hours left to drive, and kept me awake. I think it might have been the 3rd or 4th book in the series. I later went back and read the earlier ones, and then continued with the later ones.

    Someone mentioned that they started the first book and couldn’t finish it. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have reacted the same way, if I wasn’t “catching up” on the series at the time. I’m not as interested in younger kids, and Harry was pretty untested and unformed in the first few books. Later on the series got darker, and so I have enjoyed each book more than the one previous.

    I’m out of touch with pop culture, so though I know the HP books are popular (and I’m 188 on the waiting list at my library for the latest) and there are movies (I’ve seen 2 of them I think), I feel pretty insulated from whatever hysteria there is surrounding the books. (I don’t have a TV, rarely watch movies, don’t listen to the radio…out of touch!) So for me, I read them purely because I enjoy them.

    Are they worthy of literary awards, should they be lauded for originality, do they have “staying power”? No idea. And honestly, I don’t really care either way! I don’t always want to read the classics, and I am comfortable with that. It is only one facet of my interests, after all, and light entertainment has a definite place in my life.

    I am, however, happy that the series has come to an end. It was time, and I’m glad it won’t be drawn out.

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