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Why I’ve Never Read Harry Potter

July 15, 2011
Mom as Dementor from Harry Potter

The past couple of days I have been reminded that I just might be the only person left in the western world who has not read any of the Harry Potter novels.

Last night I went to a BookCrossing Toronto gathering, where the new Harry Potter movie was the primary topic of conversation. The group is full of very passionate HP fans so that was not a surprise –and despite this shocking lacuna in my reading career, I am at least somewhat conversant in the Potterverse.

Riding the subway on the way home at nearly midnight, I was in a car with two young women in their late teens or early twenties dressed in school uniforms. It occurred to me that it was rather late in both the evening and the year for school uniforms, and I thought it a bit peculiar that they were wearing different uniforms despite obviously being together. Then it dawned on me that they were wearing Hogwarts uniforms and each girl was showing her affinity for a different house (sorry, I cannot yet tell my Gryffindors from my Hufflepuffs by sight.)

Even my seventy-year-old mother dresses up in Potter garb occasionally, and ravenously read each book as they were released. So how has it come to pass that, as a person whose enthusiasm for books and reading is a defining attribute, I have not read the most talked-about books of the last century?

It’s not as though I’m staging a Harry Potter boycott.  I almost wish I had some kind of dramatic reason for not having read the books so that I could manufacture an entertaining retort to use when people express their bafflement at this fact.

As is nearly always the case, the truth is much more mundane. Here are the totally underwhelming reasons I haven’t read the Harry Potter books yet:

  • At first it was because they are kids’ books and I was unsure whether I would enjoy them
  • Then I saw the first movie and I agonized over whether to read the first book or start with the second, and I couldn’t reach a decision so I forgot about it
  • Then I saw the second movie which caused further hand-wringing
  • Then I found out that the last books would be divided into two parts, and I dislike cliffhangers so I decided to wait until all of the parts were published and read them all straight through
  • Then started my business and didn’t have time for such things
  • And the biggest, yet pathetically dull, reason I have not read any Harry Potter books is – I haven’t got around to it yet

Somewhere in this book-infested house I possess a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I’m coming to the realization that it’s about time I read it — not just to impress my Quidditch-playing friends, or to appease my butter-beer-loving mother, but because I want to.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. July 15, 2011 20:31

    And if you’re wondering what the photo is supposed to be, that’s Mom in her Dementor Halloween costume

  2. July 28, 2011 04:42

    Harry Potter – I haven’t followed the story since the second movie – but now that all of them are out i will have a marathon weekend and watch them all. cant wait to see where it all ends

    • July 28, 2011 21:57

      Marathons are the best — no cliffhangers! Thanks for commenting.

  3. July 29, 2011 09:18

    you should the books are fantastic

    • July 29, 2011 14:13

      I will. They’re definitely on my list. I’d love to read them all straight through, but that’s probably not going to happen. However, I’m making a point of reading the first one very soon. Which one is your favourite?

  4. July 30, 2011 01:11

    I viewed Harry Potter much like you, first as kid’s books, then with the “I’ll get around to it” sort of attitude.

    Then my mother-in-law visited with book 1. She left it laying on the coffee table after she went to bed. I picked it up.

    I didn’t go to sleep until I finished it, then went online immediately to reserve the other books.

    I read them straight through, to book 5 (the last book at the time). It was over 800 pages and I still read it in a day.

    I can only dream to achieve the quality of writing JK Rowling did – the ability to completely suck in the reader.

    Most recently I began the Hunger Games. Same problem.

    Like potato chips: once I start, I can’t stop a series.

    • July 30, 2011 10:04

      Those Harry Potter pushers are wily. My copy was given to me as a “hostess gift” when I had my BFF over for supper a few years back. I really must dig it out. My bookshelves are stacked with a double layer of books (one row in front of another) and HP and the Philospher’s Stone must be in one of the back rows.

      You raise an excellent point which I neglected to include in my post — the potential for addiction. That might actually be the foremost reason I never started reading them. When I find an author I like I tend to become a bit obsessed and start reading everything they’ve ever written. As the HP series went on each successive volume was larger and larger, it became quite daunting. If Rowling had kept going then reading her books might have taken up a serious proportion of one’s reading time. It’s a perverse idea — avoiding books because you know that they’ll be too good, but there it is. Thankfully she did me a favour and stopped, so it became much less daunting once there was a finite number of words to read.

      I’m really curious to read her writing after hearing so much about it. Thanks for stopping by and adding your perspective.

  5. August 3, 2011 03:32

    “And the biggest, yet pathetically dull, reason I have not read any Harry Potter books is – I haven’t got around to it yet” that is the reason I only read two of the books.

    • August 18, 2011 21:23

      Good to know I’m not alone. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  6. August 11, 2011 04:20

    Haha Im on the same boat. Time i too start get the series for myself. Soon i’ll have loads of time to read books 🙂

  7. Patti permalink
    August 18, 2011 00:17

    I put off reading them for a while just because of all the hype involved – but once I started, I haven’t been able to stop. I’ve read all seven books multiple times – pathetically nerdy, but there it is.

    • August 18, 2011 21:22

      Hey! There is no such thing as “pathetically nerdy.” Nerds rule!

  8. August 18, 2011 23:30

    Thanks for subscribing to my blog! Already I am 100% sure that I will thoroughly enjoy reading yours too. I have just started “Everything is Illuminated” and I think it’s fantastic so far.

    Also, you are not alone. I am the butt of many jokes and the target of much abuse from family and friends, as I, like you, have never read Harry Potter. I can one up you though – I have never seen any of the movies either, and I don’t plan on ever seeing or reading this series.

    I don’t know how old you are but I am 20 and I was about 8 or 9 when the first books came out. So unfortunately, I don’t have the excuse that it was a children’s book and I may not enjoy it. I WAS a child when they came out and my friends devoured and grew up with them. Without meaning to sound boastful, I had sophisticated reading tastes from a young age and so I was already on to Austen and Dickens by this age – so I decided a boy wizard would not entertain me.

    By the time I was older and the world took hold of it’s obsession, it had become such a ‘thing’ amongst my crowd that I hadn’t read Harry, and so I guess I stubbornly, proudly, took on that title and intend to keep it that way.

    You are not alone! Don’t feel obliged to read them just because everyone else does – everyone eats McDonalds too 😉


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