What DNFing Harry Potter taught me about reading…

What DNFing “Harry Potter” taught me about reading…

This post is about my recent reading experience with the book “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling. I went into this book with an open mind. I wanted to read the series because it has proven to be so popular. It also has seemed to stand a bit of a test of time, so far. People still talk about them and now even more movies are being made in the same world as them. It didn’t hurt either that the book series is probably the most loved with most book bloggers. I wanted to give it a chance due to all of this. I wanted to sit down and decide if I loved the series as well.

The reality is that I did not enjoy the 130 pages of the first book that I actually read. I am someone that always tries not to judge a book until I reach that final word on that final page. I am realizing though that this means that sometimes you read a lot of crap you just don’t enjoy. A philosophy of “read everything” means that sometimes you read things that you would just rather not. This book made me realize that why would I do that to myself? Why would I try to read everything, even if I did not enjoy it? Reading is supposed to be a pleasurable act. For me, it is a moment of escapism from the world into whatever story that I am currently reading. Sometimes this means I am in a land that someone come from a cyclone into or even a wardrobe. Sometimes this means that I am reading a story of a girl that is learning to read and write that changes her worldview of the abuse she has suffered. The thing is these are all books I wanted to read. They were all books that I picked up for myself because there was something that I wanted to see within it. “Harry Potter” was never a series that I intended to read, outside of feeling like the community loved it. There was something I wanted to learn from the books that I wanted to read, but I never felt a connection to “Harry Potter”.

Books definitely can teach us. I have read books like “The Handmaid’s Tale” that have taught me ways that I don’t want the world to be. I have read other books like “For Colored Girls that have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf” to better understand people that are not exactly like me. I have also utilized books to make me laugh, cry, and any gamut of emotions. This is the beauty of books. This book made me realize that importance to love what you read. To embrace what you are reading. It doesn’t mean that every book is going to be a magical gem, but that if you connect with it that is important. If you don’t connect with it, it is okay to say sorry and put the book down. To say no, you will not take up my time. It is hard because this is a popular series in the book blogging community, but it is what I had to say to this book series. I do not have the nostalgia attached to it. I do not have the moments of sneaking around to read it between classes or waiting for the next book to come out to see what happens in the fight against “You-Know-Who” or any of those other wonderful “Harry Potter” memories that others have.

I connect with a different type of book sometimes than those in the book blogging community. This book made me realize that is fine as well. That is perfectly acceptable. We do not all need to be cookie cutter molds of each other. Some of us will be young kids enjoying sharing our love for young adult reading, some of us will be grandmothers reading cozy mysteries that have retired, and even others will be academic types that sometimes feel like they prattle on. Guess what? We all deserve a voice in the community. We do not need to all have the same content. We all cannot love the same books all the time. There is nothing wrong with loving romances primarily or true crime. The commonality is that we love books and what they can provide for us. They are a love. A hobby. They are something we do for fun. We read the words on the page to come alive in our own each unique ways for our own unique reasons. We want to love our reading. We want to be able to give every book 5-stars. Enjoyment should be paramount right?

When I closed “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and placed it back on my partner’s shelf after saying that I did think I liked the book and his response was “you don’t have to read something you don’t like” I exhaled in relief. It was a permission to stop. To not read something I did not want to read. It was a moment to take stock on my reading habits. My desire to read to be popular in a community that should embrace all readers and often does. I shouldn’t want to be like every other reader, I should want to be my own best reader. That is what is vital. Yes, I want to read everything still, but I also will find books that I think sound enjoyable. I will also allow myself the permission to close a book that I do not like. To place it back on the shelf and walk away without animosity. Letting someone else have their love of that book. I will then pick up the book next to it and start reading because that is what we do as book bloggers: we read.

14 Replies to “What DNFing Harry Potter taught me about reading…”

  1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious Blog

    I love this post!!! As someone that used to force herself to read everything, it has been rather freeing to not do that to myself anymore. Most of the time my initial impressions are right, so forcing myself never really redeems a book.

    I am sorry Harry Potter wasn’t for you but I am glad you learned this lesson!
    Kaleena @ Reader Voracious Blog recently posted…A Spark of White Fire (The Celestial Trilogy #1) by Sangu MandannaMy Profile

    • Cassie Post author

      I think as a book blogger it is a vital lesson to learn. Sometimes we feel compelled to keep at it because everyone has hyped a book or talked about it and we want to feel connected in some way to that. If, however, you aren’t enjoying the book it just saps your love, little by little, of reading. I am learning that I am allowed to go with my gut instinct. I am glad you learned this lesson as well. Thanks for visiting, Kaleena!

  2. Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

    I havenโ€™t read Harry Potter either, deliberately so. If I had been younger when they were released, Iโ€™d have devoured these books. But, I now struggle with the fantasy genre because Iโ€™ve lost the ability to escape at the level those stories require.

    I actually bought these books for my nephew on release day, back when there was a big delivery coordination with FedEx. He loved them and it inspired him to embrace reading. It also unleashed a very creative mind.

    Iโ€™m collecting the audiobooks because I think one day Iโ€™ll want to listen to them with my six-year old great nephew. He already loves to read and it just might work.

    Thereโ€™s a bigger community of us then you might think๐Ÿ˜‰
    Jonetta (Ejaygirl) recently posted…Under Control by Shannon Stacey โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (Boston Fire #5)My Profile

    • Cassie Post author

      There are certain books that I have been able to read in the fantasy genre, but I think I am very much in the same boat. Sci-fi and fantasy tend to be hard books for me to read. I cannot connect with them on any deep level. It does seem like it would be enjoyable to share with someone much younger, but to not have that connection myself definitely played into not finishing this series. There are so many people in this community and I am starting to embrace that and hopefully will find more of a place where I belong in it. Cause sometimes I feel a bit like a weird outsider because I don’t want to read these mainstream books. Thanks for visiting Jonetta! ๐Ÿ™‚ I appreciate it.

  3. Lady Emily Rose

    I made through 2 books and 3 movies. I couldn’t do it either. Rowling liberally swiped from so many things I’d already known, and ALL of them were better. If a villain is going to have the guts to be called a Dark Lord, he better live up to the likes of Sauron or Vader. Voldemort was a joke, thus rendering Harry pointless as a hero. But that’s just my opinion. I’ve got Luke Skywalker and Hobbits. I see why the series is popular, but I couldn’t respect it, let alone enjoy it.

    Having the courage not to conform and not to give your time and energy to something that gives nothing back to you is important. It’s a lesson many never learn.

    • Cassie Post author

      I see why the series is popular and I have a sense of respect for it, but these things I don’t think equate to enjoying it. These books came at a time when kids were ripe for better storytelling and they were that for that generation. I was part of that generation, almost, but I was not in a positive place in my own life to enjoy them. This made these books that passed me up, but I don’t have any bad thoughts about that. They are just not books for me. I agree with your statement so much after trying this series, we should never give our time and energy to something that isn’t giving us something back in return, regardless of how much it is back. If it is nothing, walk away from it. There is nothing wrong with that. It is in fact far more healthy to want to be in positive relationships, even in books, than to keep staying around for some grandiose change that will never occur. I do not personally have Skywalker or the Hobbits (I never read Lord of the Rings either), but I am finding where I fit with books. It is a long road, but I know I am getting there. Thanks for commenting Emily as always, I appreciate your comments always!

  4. Carla Johnson-Hicks

    I read the first book and although I was okay, I have not continued with any others (I have them all on my bookcase though). I was one of those people that thought I had to finish every book I started, but finally realized that there are too many wonderful books out there to waste time reading something I am not enjoying. The ones I DNF are few and far between, but I no longer feel guilty when it happens. As I read more and more blogs, I read different genres to give them a chance, but I do not like them all. Different strokes for different folks.

    • Cassie Post author

      I am thankful that we both reached that place where we no longer feel obligated to read books if we are not enjoying them. I know I will never DNF a lot of books, but now I am okay with putting books that I am seriously not enjoying to the side without it reflecting poorly on me. I am open to any genre, but like you some I do not like. Different people, different tastes. Thanks for visiting Carla!

  5. Jenn @ Bound to Writing

    Wonderful discussion, Grey! I completely agree that you can’t force yourself to read things you’re not interested in for the sake of the book community. I’ve met a lot of bloggers that have never read Harry Potter, me included. Though I have been slowly reading the series. My thing with the series is the long books. But that’s a discussion for another day. I’m glad you were able to stop reading once you realized it wasn’t for you. Only read what you enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Karla Strand

    Life is WAY too short to be spending time reading books we don’t like! Good for you for putting it down and any others that you don’t dig. I often feel this way about popular “chick lit” or romance novels. I feel like I am one of the only bloggers who doesn’t like these. But oh well! I read and write what I like! Great post ๐Ÿ˜€


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