As readers, we all have gaping holes in what we feel we ought to have read by now. It's this constant feeling that we're behind that, for me at least, causes us to read when we'd rather sleep, eat, socialize, or otherwise relax in some mindless way. Perhaps instead of playing a video game. We all have different routines.
That said, we all have these gaps. I'm saying it's universal, and by reading on you're agreeing with me.
You know what this is building toward, right? My own literary shortcomings.
As I've said before, I'm not particularly strong or current when it comes to books of a series. This would include any of the most beloved series of the past century, but seems to resonate with people in a different way when I say that I've never read the Harry Potter series.
Before you ask how I work at a bookstore, how I'm alive, or any of the like questions, allow me to explain. When the first book came out, I had already jumped the region between Young Adult and Literary Fiction, and I was reading the likes of Twain, Swift, and Hawthorne. In my own mind, I had left that realm and had no reason to look back. Fantasy has never been of particular interest to me, either. Sci-Fi, sure. Technology and aliens receive a reasonable intellectual investment because I grew up in a Star Wars household. Children training to be wizards and witches didn't really appeal to me as a child, or as an aging child (what others might call an adult).
It didn't help that I was in high school when the first two movies came out, and being a white dude with a fair complexion, scruffy brown hair, and slightly rounded glasses earned me the comments along the lines of "oh mah gaw, you look like Harry Potter!" Then 'Griffindor' stuck as a nickname, and all signs pointed to avoidance with a side of disinterest.
Around the time of the sixth book was released, I remember many friends giving the series a push and telling me I had to read it. Fresh off of not seeing the third Lord of the Rings movie on principle (no title could warrant that amount of Oscars, a stance that I maintain), I felt "what could it hurt to miss out on this?" Working at a bookstore for the past four years, I'm sure you can imagine this series has been recommended to me more than once. More than a few dozen times is probably accurate. I did work the midnight launch of The Deathly Hallows, after all. And yet I felt completely comfortable with my ignorance.
Someone very close to me, however, had planted an interest in the movies deep down in my heart. They were fun and light. Nothing revolutionary, but a better way to spend my time than with the latest Michael Bay flick (eat it, Bay!). Perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, it wasn't until the sixth film that I really started to feel like there was more going on in this world than the films were conveying. This thought hadn't previously occurred to me. In my head, they were always "those kids books." How complex could they be, right? I've heard about books/series like the Hunger Games trilogy, Going Bovine, His Dark Materials, the Chaos Walking series, and etc. so I've had some idea of how mature YA lit. is getting. Harry Potter had just always seemed on the light, fluffy side of things to me. Ohh, what a fool I was...
As you might imagine, I'm officially reading these books now, and beyond the sheer enjoyment of the prose itself, I'm enjoying the conversations these books start. I recently had the misfortune of spending some time in the hospital, and had two conversations that went a long way in both distracting and comforting me. Talking to the nurse at the registration desk about the series after she called me 'Griffindor' was a departure from my high school response of "yeah *forced smile* likeI'veneverheardthatbefore *mumble mumble mumble*." Then, when the anesthesiologist saw that I had one of the books in my hand, the conversation stopped being all business, and instead he wanted to tell me about his strict ritual of seeing the films in theaters with his best friend, and the pact they made to do so. He also gave me some encouragement and advice in regards to the the fifth book, The Order of the Phoenix. He said that I "just need to get through it, because it's about to get so good." It has also led to conversations with co-workers that have been a ball. I'm not sure I've ever discussed any book or series to this extent, and never can I remember it being this much fun.
Basically, I feel like I'm on the inside of something where it's worth being on the inside. The diehards are much more fun than those taking a principled stand against the series. So if you think it's something you may not hate, give it a try. In fact, even if it's something you think might not be up your alley, you should still give it a try. I'm proof of the "what do we know?" factor. Here I thought I was too adult or too high-brow for this series, ultimately above it somehow, and now I can't wait to go to the Harry Potter: The Exhibition over at the Pacific Science Center and my eventual pilgrimage to the Harry Potter theme park in Universal Studios.
In the meantime, I think I'm just going to walk down to Kids Books and let Anna punch me in the liver.