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things I like and dislike about the harry potter books

I admit upfront that I like the Harry Potter series and children’s books in general. I read Harry’s adventures #1-5 twice each; I couldn’t stand to read #6 twice because I didn’t want to read the ending again. #7 has been anticipated by me almost as much as everyone else.

Having finished the book this morning and having read enough posts about it already, I almost didn’t post—what could I possibly add to the blogosphere on this book? (This of course begs the question of what I ever add to the blogosphere on any topic; I’m going to pretend to ignore that for now.) But, I post about every book I read; therefore, in the spirit of the lists I seem to be wont to produce:

Things I like about the Harry Potter books:

  • No one in the books is blameless or innocent; no one completely evil.
  • The books are a mass cultural phenomenon.

Things I dislike about the Harry Potter books:

  • It’s a Christ story.
  • The books are a mass cultural phenomenon.

Feel free to make suggestions for the lists. More pros and cons may come to
me as the days go by.

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8 Comments

  1. You don’t think Voldemort isn’t completely evil? I can’t see any good in the character at all!

    As for it being a Christ story, I don’t see that. I think that’s the opposite end of the Christian spectrum, saying the opposite to those who feel that Harry Potter involves kids in witchcraft, and that it’s the work of el Diablo.

    I think the books are brilliant, although in the last 3, JKR progressively breaks away from them being children’s stories, making some of the nouns she made up defunct.

  2. halshop says:

    So you don’t see that Voldemort is a profoundly insecure, pathetic figure? Every time he’s around I feel sad for the lost potential of his life. He sought for happiness and got nothing but pain. He made bad choices, but he’s not a bad person. I even admire him in some ways for never backing down from his chosen path, even when it’s clearly wrong. Perhaps this is a glass half full sort of thing?

    I’m aware of some Christians’ criticism of the books. They will criticize almost everything, except the Bible–and maybe that, too. I can’t worry about them. The books are a Christ story in that there is an anointed figure who must struggle with how to save the world, who dies to save the world, and then returns.

  3. I don’t like the term “Christ story”. My personal opinion 🙂

    As for finding any sympathy for He Who Must Not Be Named… a belligerent individual who tortures and murders people for his own ends? May I point you in this direction, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_James_Bulger) to a story that rocked the UK when two children who had “had a rough family life” TORTURED and MURDERED a little boy who was a month away from his third birthday. A character who feels that those not of his ‘race’ are somehow beneath him? I, personally, liken this to Hitler’s treatment of the Jewish people, to the treatment of black people during the apartheid, the expulsion of white farmers by Mugabe and the ethnic cleansing by the Sunnis and Shias in Baghdad. So, whilst I agree that He is a pathetic figure, I do not feel sad for the pain he suffers, nor do I agree with your perusal, ending in you thinking he’s QUOTE/not a bad person/UNQUOTE.

    I like your blog – it gives me a lot to think about! 😀

  4. halshop says:

    LS — Thanks for giving me things to think about, too.

  5. matt says:

    wow- I almost got into a fight over harry potter! imagine that, a thirty five year old gent wanting to jump across a fire pit just because a guy was in the process of giving away the ending before I read the book! I did ask him nicely not to say anything about it but he was three-sheets-to-the-wind and didn’t want to be told what to do, so I called him a name or two and cursed his drunken ramblings. it has been eight years in the making and its not my fault I don’t like buying books and would rather use the library which had a wait of five hundred or so and took me two months to get a hold of a copy. in the end he didn’t know a damn thing about the book.

  6. halshop says:

    Matt — I got into some trouble over Harry Potter “spoilers” myself. I say it’s testament to the enduring power of books that we can still get upset about them, argue about them, love them, read them frantically till we finish, and rue the hour in which we turn the last page.

  7. kiva says:

    I have things to add to your lists.

    THINGS I LIKE:
    That they encourage kids to read, and be excited about reading. It’s not too often you see children lining up outside bookstores instead of movie theaters.

    THINGS I DISLIKE:
    Pretty much everything else. I’ve read the first four, to see what all the hype was about, and they were okay. I enjoyed them… but since that time I have grown to hate them, and here’s why…
    I attend what is supposed to be a fairly prestigious private college, and we have a bookstore which is shamefully small. It is lacking in so many ways, primarily in books, and yet the new Harry Potter has been the front display since I arrived here. I hate that these books are such a phenomena that they take up valuable space in the bookstores which should stock more important, thought provoking literature.
    Also, Harry Potter has been detrimental to many small independent bookstores. Because these books have become so important to carry in order to compete with other bookstores, small businesses which have small distributors have been forced to spend lots of money in order to deal with corporate distributors, in order to carry the books, but without much profit.
    Lastly, while I do think the books were enjoyable enough, I have a real problem with people comparing them with series like Lord of the Rings, or the Chronicles of Narnia. Harry Potter is simply not the same quality of writing. It doesn’t have the same level of imagination and creativity, and the story, in my opinion is not as good.
    I know these dislikes are not about content as much as the Harry Potter craze… but that’s why I hate them.

  8. halshop says:

    Kiva — many good points. I’m definitely sympathetic to and concerned about the plight of the independent bookseller, among other issues you mention.
    btw: You might be interested in trying a writer who explicitly tried to write the anti-LOTR: China Mieville. Start with Perdido Street Station.

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