This blog is basically about how good books are nice and bad books are the pits. And then I get grumpy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

To add to my Goodreads bookshelf or not - That is the question or, I didn't read the whole book. My bad.

I had big expectations for Harry, A History, The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon by Melissa Anelli. But I 'read' only half of it and skimmed the rest. Now I'm left with a dilemma: Do I add it to my Goodreads bookshelf or not?

While I've only read two of the Harry Potters, I have always been intrigued by the Potter phenomenon. I follow the magazine articles. I watch the news segments on television. I was there at midnight for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release. I respect the love readers have for the series even if I don't quite fully understand the fanaticism which at times can seem a bit odd. But let me not sell myself short; I like odd. I prefer to think I am a little odd.

So when I say that the Potter phenomenon intrigues me I do not mean the way a med student specializing in psychiatry is 'intrigued' by his first patient. No, Potterology is fun. But I have found the actual Potter books too dark which helps to explain why I haven't read them all. Imagine a baseball fan who likes all the accoutrements of the game - hotdogs in the stands, the hats, three-quarter length sleeve shirts with a big number on the back, the crack of the bat, the sports column - but for some reason can't make it through an actual game. That's me. At least that's me in reference to Harry Potter. (And baseball, too.)

It's perhaps because of this that I pooped out when reading Anelli's book; it was too detailed for me and better suited to die-hard fans. I had hoped for more of a balance between Anelli's life and Potter stuff, that the book would be about where the two converge. So it was this in-depth reportage, or the knowledge that I had many, many books on my to-be-read-list, or the fact that it was about 2 o'clock in the morning and I still had half the book to go that made me zip throught the last chapters. I also skipped the chapter entitled Rocking at Hogwarts - not literary enough. I'm tough to please.

Technically, I haven't read the entire book. I think it's wise to skip now what I might find very engaging after having read the Potter series. But I feel so familiar with this book that my urge to share my opinion MUST be satisfied. Furthermore, I want to place it on my Goodreads list. I wanna! I wanna! I wanna! I wanna! So I guess I will.

Before I head there to do that, though, here's a few thoughts. I read a comment online that went something like this: 'At least now I know I'm not the only nerd out there!' But it sounded so mean.

I'll acknowledge, the fervor and ardour with which Anelli and her Potter-mates treat the series seems, um, unusual. But Anelli makes a good point on page 209. She states of the fans, her friends, that,

"All of us led other lives...with families who didn't understand how we could love anything as much as we loved Harry Potter, who even, at times, made fun of us...but then would spend six hours shouting themselves hoarse at a football match, and five after that shouting themselves hoarse at each other as they discussed the same game."

It's true, isn't it? People can recite the score of the '56 World Series of baseball and who ran how many home runs in the same game. Culturally, this is okay. But somehow fervent discussion of Harry Potter makes you a nerd. Painting your face the colors of your football team is okay. But dressing like Hermione isn't.

Anelli's account of her own passion for Potter, the detail with which she relates the purchase of the fifth book in the series, the way she felt with the book in her hands, her dedication to the Potter website she devotes so much time to all seem to be unusual things to 'fess up to if, for instance, she were trying out for most popular girl in homeroom. But it's refreshing and lovely to hear someone speak so freely about their love for a 'nerdy' subject; quite obviously, it comes from the heart. Brave. Or naive. Perhaps Anelli has no idea how she might sound to some. It's wonderful to hear someone reveal
in such an unabashed way parts of her personality that others would hide, that people who never grow past their high school snobbery wouldn't understand.

Here is the power of much of the book, the confessional, honest tone it has. More personal moments and fewer dry facts may have kept me reading. (But, then again, so may have more familiarity with the series
on my part.)

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