As some of you may know, I just finished listening to Harry Potter. I’m not one to reread many books, no matter how much I love a book, as my curiosity about all the books I haven’t yet read is usually too strong for me to spend a lot of time on books I’ve already read. Therefore, even though Harry Potter is one of the greatest series of all time (I was going to say “imho”, but eff you, its magic), I had not reread any of them.
When I first started listening to books instead of music at work, I started with Deathly Hallows because I’d just seen part one of the movie, which made me realize I’d remembered nothing from the book, and worse that I remembered even less about the second half. I’m not sure exactly how the decision to listen instead of read happened but I’m ever so thankful that it did.
Listening became like watching a movie in my head, and I was having so much fun that even my work morale was heightened. I couldn’t believe how much I’d forgotten and it was very nearly like reading it for the first time, as if I’d only heard a summary of it instead of reading it. That really surprised me. Usually my memory for books is much better and this part was the one I’d read the most recently. This made me think. I’d always said I was going to reread all of them, and I had finally decided to do it. I read many of the books as they were released, meaning that I had several years between parts. This meant details got lost and a great deal of Rowling’s genius was lost to me in the process.
This time around was different. With the end fresh in my mind, it was amazing to see all the puzzle pieces from the beginning. My friend once told me that Rowling started with the end and worked her way backward from there and I am inclined to believe it because few other authors stay as consistent and have hints and clues so thoroughly and continuously integrated throughout the entire series.
The first book was the one I remembered the best, probably because it this was when Harry Potter was seared into my brain and henceforth eternally a part of me. First time around, my friend totally spoiled the second book for me, and because of that, was my least favorite. This time around, it is much higher on my list. Originally, the third book was my second favorite, now I find I would put it much lower on my list. The sixth continues to be my second favorite; I believe it’s the closest Harry gets to a “normal” Hogwarts experience, at least until the final chapters. Book four rose several places on my list. The fifth, though gripping and well written, continues to make me too uncomfortable to enjoy it as thoroughly as I do some of the others.
Finally, the seventh part, which I’ve always said is my favorite and it still is, though I have more misgivings with her end and epilogue than I did the first time. That isn’t necessarily an insult though. She had her ideas about how characters lived after the Battle of Hogwarts and she’s voiced them in interviews that fans have documented well. (Speaking of the Battle of Hogwarts - I think the deaths of certain characters makes Rowling’s writing realistic, powerful, and lingering). Even with her comments, there is a lot left to the reader’s imagination, and I love that.
I also want to mention the reader, Jim Dale, who did a fantastic job. I’ve not listened to many books on tape, but there have been audiobooks I started that I haven’t finished because I didn’t like the voice. Jim Dale is believable and really brings the text to life. He doesn’t just read; he performs.
At any rate, I highly recommend listening to the books, even if you’ve already read them, even if you don’t like listening to books. I didn’t think I’d have the patience to listen, and maybe I wouldn’t with a book I haven’t already read. It was a whole new experience to listen to the series and I was blown away how much I loved listening to this series.