Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter

As I read the various articles about Harry Potter, the book, the movie, etc., I think, huh, it's rather funny; Harry Potter is not only expected to defeat Voldemort, he's also expected to single handedly change the reading habits of the entire world.

And while there is more about the reporting on & reviewing of HP that I want to post about it, I'll hold off for now. For example, why is it OK to so totally bash HP, JKR, and the readers? I've read comments and posts and articles that treat the book, the author, and the readers in a way that I rarely, if ever, see other books & authors & readers treated. It's as if they're the Paris Hilton of the publishing world (except, with panties and no arrests.) Meaning, JKR is so rich that it's OK to bash her, her work product, and her readers.

But, what motivated me to comment was this great post over at The Longstockings. My favorite line, to the bashers? And in the name of all I cherish, stop trying to ruin the fun for the rest of us. Which is ANOTHER odd thing; rarely have I seen people so intent on ruining the reading pleasure of others, by both talking down about what they read and getting read to spoil the ending out of meanness.

My favorite point, because I totally agree: Who cares if people don't read novels? (*Ducks under desk to avoid flying objects*) Okay, clearly I do, because my friends and I write them and I'd like that to be an economically viable profession. But honestly, no one is suffering a deficit of fiction or stories, thanks to this handy little moving-picture machine we all have in our homes.

As you know, I don't play sports. So, whenever I read about what people do or don't do for pleasure and entertainment, about their own personal choices, I try to imagine, what if they were talking about me and what I choose. So, instead of all the cries about people not reading novels, imagine the complaints about people not playing sports. Here's the thing: WE CANNOT FORCE PEOPLE TO ENJOY DOING SOMETHING THEY DON'T ENJOY. There will always be a percentage of people who don't like doing what I like doing; in this case, read novels.

But guess what? We're not going to convince anyone that reading novels is great! fun! if we bash their reading choices. And, of course, as it becomes clear with all these "people don't read enough novels" nonsense, what the writers really mean is that we are supposed to "read novels that are literary and worthwhile and not Harry Potter or chick lit or science fiction." So, not only are these writers insisting that readers must enjoy reading novels, they must enjoy reading a certain sort of novel.

And, speaking of novels, what's wrong with people reading nonfiction for enjoyment?

And, as you know from my intro at the top of the blog, I'm more about the story than the books (tho I don't post enough about the movies & TV I watch.) So I loved the nod of respect to other ways that people get story.

Anyway. Enough of my Monday Morning Rant. Time to get ready for work.

Cross posted at Pop Goes the Library.


Gail Gauthier said...

Actually, I think other books do take the same kind of beating Harry Potter does, they've just been adult books in the past. The DaVinci Code, for instance. All kinds of popular bestsellers have been bashed, whether or not it was deserved.

As a culture, we support the little guy. We like to see little guys like us get ahead. Once the little guy gets ahead and is the big guy, and no longer like us, we like to see him taken down. Whether it's right or wrong, we have a history of doing it. Wild success offends our democratic natures.

Personally, I don't think the article about Harry Potter doing little to change reading habits is anti-Potter. I read it as saying that reading habits are in such a state that even Potter can't do anything for them. It's a comment on our reading culture, not Harry Potter.

Renee said...

While I'm neither here nor there about Harry Potter (although I have now finished book 4 and am starting to catch the fever a little bit), I do like that all the the rhetoric on both sides results in at least some people thinking about reading and literature in our culture.

I agree will Gail that other books have received their share of bashing, not to mention the entire genres of chick lit and romance novels. I say if people are reading, they're expanding their minds no matter which books are in their hands.

Anonymous said...

Totally with you about it being all about the story, Liz. That's how I justify my internal conflict about wanting to read more, but having TV shows and movies that I enjoy, too.

I'm honestly not reading much of the Harry Potter coverage. I'm glad to see this much hype over a book, especially a children's book, but I personally want to sit down with my copy of HP7 and get lost in the story. Then and only then will I lift my head up to see what anyone else thinks. (Of course, I'd better get cracking, because I'm not quite finished re-reading book 5, let alone book 6).

tanita✿davis said...

We are a country founded by Puritans. I think there's always this air of "Do you deserve your good fortune?" that is directed toward those who are somehow, by their own hand, wealthy. Heiresses? We're okay with them, panty-less, incarcerated and all -- somehow they seem to have a right to their glitzy famous-for-being-famous paparazzi laden lives. (Shades of a people who came from a kingdom to a democracy?) But someone who worked and stuck her head up above the crowd? Well, let's quickly somehow link her with Satan. Because the rest of us haven't managed that type of level.

Sometimes we are SO STRANGE as a society. So very, very strange.

And me too, Jenn. Just want to read the book. Don't need anyone else's opinion so much. I just KNOW someone's going to write a spoiler somewhere before I get to it, so I am NOT READING much more about it!