Anyone who knows me knows that I am a giant nerd. They probably know that I am obsessed with The Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, and the Marvel superhero movies. That I buy books faster than I can actually read them (even though, on average, I get through about five books a month). They can probably guess that I have been an avid reader since I was a child. Stories, and especially epic stories, are my jam and I don’t ever hide that fact.
However, there is one assumption that people always get wrong: I don’t actually like Harry Potter. I’ve never been able to get through all of the books and I’ve only seen a couple of the movies.
This little fact has nearly ended friendships before they began. It has put a serious strain on existing relationships. It has made people question my sanity and (possibly) intelligence. Some of you are probably doing that right now.
Now, some of you reading this are perhaps also in the same boat with me. You never read the books or saw the movies, probably because you just weren’t interested. Maybe you tried to read them (because everyone is so obsessed with them) and just couldn’t get into it. But how many of you are diehard Fantasy nerds and still couldn’t get into them? (If this is true for you, please reach out so that we can commiserate and bond over it)
I have actually made several attempts over the years to get into the series. I’ve tried to read the books two or three times now, but each time I have only gotten as far the fourth book, Goblet of Fire, before losing interest and giving up. Most recently, I only got as far as the first chapter of the first book before deciding that there were more important things for me to be reading.
I think I’ve seen the first three movies, but I didn’t pay very close attention to any of them.
Why my dislike/disinterest in Harry Potter? I wish I could tell you. I have been trying to figure it out for years, and I only have a few small theories, none of which are entirely conclusive. I’m willing to admit that Rowling is a great storyteller, but I find her actual prose sloppy and dissatisfying to read. I don’t find Harry himself to be very appealing, and it’s difficult to get through a series of that size if you don’t even like the main character. I’ve read enough commentary on the series to know all the dynamics of the various characters, and to know that I don’t necessarily agree with some of Rowling’s choices. But in all truth, for any argument that I can come up with against the Harry Potter series I can also think of an exception of some other work that has the exact some quality but that I somehow still enjoy. It’s really a mystery at this point of why the series just completely fails to grab my interest.
And why do I keep trying to read it? Because I know so many people, people that I admire and whose opinions I respect, who absolutely love the series. Because this series has had such a monumental impact on an entire generation, my generation, and will probably continue to do so and I want to understand why. And also because the argumentative side of me wants to be able to better articulate specifically what I don’t like about it. But alas, my reading list these days is too extensive to justify giving time to a book series that I’m not actually going to enjoy reading (and by now I know that I’m not going to enjoy it).
Harry Potter has been a cultural phenomenon, but as much I want to understand it I’m not sure that I ever will.
I don’t have anything against the series at this point, and I certainly do not think less of those who do enjoy it. I think that it is wonderful how it gets kids to not only read but to read massive books of 700+ pages. It lays a path for more books and a love of reading and stories, and that is something that the world should be grateful for.
If you are a Harry Potter fan, what is that you love about the series? If, like me, you have never gotten into it, why not? I’m so curious on both counts!
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