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.