Sunday, December 07, 2003

BOOKS: Possession and Harry Potter

I finished Possession by A.S. Byatt yesterday morning, after dozing off a few times trying to finish it on Friday night. It was a wonderful book, I really enjoyed it and can see what all the fuss was about. Now I'll rent the movie and try not to expect too much. It did get good reviews, if I recall correctly. However, Gwyneth was recently quoted saying she only really likes two of the movies in her back catalogue and it wasn't one of them.

This morning I polished off Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, having started it yesterday. So many people have been telling me I should read those books, and my reply was always that I was just waiting for someone to lend me the first one. No-one seemed to have it handy. My theory is that less adults own the first one or two, they would have borrowed them, then gotten more into the series and by time the last one was released, just about everyone lined up to buy the hardcover the second it came out.

Anyway, I joined the library to borrow it. It actually gives me great pleasure to once again have a library card. I haven't been a member of the public library for ages; it's even been years since I had access to the uni library. I just got into the habit of buying second hand and remaindered books, in far greater quantities than I've ever had time to read. I've been slowing down the buying pace for ages now but I still have probably hundreds of books that I haven't read. (Shaun has read some of them though!). Not to mention Kam's collection as well. A lot of these I still look forward to eagerly; some don't interest me quite as much as they did when I bought them. I used to think I could eventually find time to read every single book that looked interesting and was available cheap. I've started being much more selective now. I have to remember that time wasted reading one thing is time when I could have been reading something else.

Not having used the library for years, it's a real thrill to be back. Since I'm also trying cut down my spending a bit, I'm planning to see how many of the books on my to-read list might be available there.

To get to the point, I enjoyed Harry Potter 1, but it was a bit thin. A lot of things happen without much detail or background. I felt that Rowling simplified a lot of things that could have been more interesting and held the attention longer. Even making allowance for the fact that it's a kids book - I've read and loved kid's books that were more original and better developed. I guess though, that this may be a factor in Pottermania - it's been a book that got children to read, including those who don't like reading (not to mention countless adults in the same boat). It's easy to relate to and quick to digest. Obviously Rowling touched a nerve and reached a lot of people, and I'm not going to complain about that.

I'm planning to read the rest of the books, and I just hope that as she wrote the successive installments, Rowling might have tried to gradually provide a more fulfilling and complex reading experience. Without scaring off those reluctant readers.

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