Why I Love Reading: Cassie-la Re-reads “Harry Potter”

In preparation for LeakyCon 2011 (have we mentioned yet how it’s almost LeakyCon and all the Bibliomantics will be in attendance as hipster wizards? Oh wait, we have)… Anyway, in preparation for LeakyCon I have been re-reading one Harry Potter book a month since December. I have also been doing other things in preparation for LeakyCon, such as reading all of Cassandra Clare’s novels, reading the Hunger Games series, watching “Avatar: the Last Airbender”, not watching “Supernatural”, prepping my costume, printing Bibliomantics business cards, and getting a Dark Mark tattoo. Thankfully this post will merely be about re-reading Harry Potter and a little bit of ranting on how much I love Snape and Lily.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t finished Harry Potter yet, it turns out Harry Potter was a ghost the whole time.

I originally started Harry Potter in Middle School on a recommendation from our librarian and finished the series when it came out in 2007 (see ridiculous picture of the Bibliomantics- from left Kelly, myself, Stephanie, and our friend David who we shall pretend is Cassie-wa). We went to the midnight release party for The Deathly Hallows (along with the prior two releases) and were pretty much way too old to be there. I read Deathly Hallows at work the next day with my co-worker Super Tom who was  a much faster reader and very vocal the whole time- I was perpetually worried that Kreacher was going to die! It was a very emotional finale. My happiness at Dobby’s death pretty much overshadowed the death of everyone else with the exception of Fred. But I never liked Tonks much anyway.

But to backtrack/forwardtrack a wee bit, I started re-reading the series this December, 4 years after I first read the last book and about 13 years after reading the first book. If that makes any sense, which it probably doesn’t because right now much like Stephanie I want to read Game of Thrones. Regardless! … The second time around I found myself with more questions than I recall having when my brain was a lot less developed. At least that’s what I tell myself so I don’t feel bad about my useless English degree.

1. Are there guidelines for the arbitrary points system at Hogwarts? Knowing what mandrakes are is not equivalent to saving Hogwarts from annihilation.
2. Why does Hermione care about house elves so much but has no qualms about transfiguring hedgehogs into pincushions? Hedgehogs have feelings too!
3. Is there an American version of Hogwarts? And if so, does Obama know wizards exist!?!
4. How are there enough jobs for everyone who graduates? Does everyone take turns being DADA teachers?
5. What if the wizard economy crashes? Gringotts could end up becoming a Wells Fargo.
6. Is there wizard unemployment? The influx of house elves taking all the good jobs is ruining the wizard job market. Insert blatant immigration joke and Stephen Lynch lyrics here.
7. Wizard birth control? I better not be the only one who wonders about this.
8. Why are there no mentions of Jewish wizards? There only seem to be Christmas trees in the Great Hall. CAN JEWS NOT BE WIZARDS!?! (I recently learned we can be pirates so I don’t see why we can’t be wizards.)
9. Are there wizard G.E.D.s or does your schoolwork get excused if you get cursed or are looking for horcruxes? I feel like being the Chosen One shouldn’t get you a free pass merely because Neville Longbottom and the Sorcerer’s Stone doesn’t sound as cool.
10. What do they have against pens and paper not in scroll form? At least use word count rather than length. If you write really small you have to do twice as much work!
11. Is Harry Potter actually one of those fainting goats?I’m pretty sure he faints more than he yells in caps lock.

In addition to these questions there was the sense that I was reading a brand new series. For some reason I had forgotten major plot points. I remembered giant things like Dumbledore’s death and the revelation that Snape is good (although I always knew he was) but rather important plot points like Regulus’ dummy horcrux and Barty Crouch Junior’s overuse of Polyjuice Potion seem to have evaporated from my mind. How did I remember all the Aberforth goat sex jokes and confusion over Wormtail and Wormtongue but not what happens to Dolores Umbridge after her stint at Hogwarts or that Mad Eye Moody dies? I can see forgetting things like Percy masturbation jokes or that Harry eats spotted dick for dessert, but forgetting that Harry goes to the afterlife and meets Rumbleroar Dumbledore seems kind of sloppy.

I was initially thrown by how much more childlike the first few novels were, but it reminded me that I literally grew up with Harry Potter, with his adventures getting darker and more adult as we grew together. Granted he seems to grow a lot slower than us nonfictional characters, but there’s no way around that in the literary world. If Harry Potter had been a TV series he would probably have remained 12 for at least 4 seasons (but only if it was a cartoon).

Regardless of these lapses in my memory, for the most part re-reading Harry Potter was like reacquainting myself with an old friend. The magic and the wonder is still there, and the characters were just as I remembered them. That is the awesome thing about fiction: you as a reader can change, but the fictional characters you love remain immortally as you remember them. Bellatrix is always deliciously evil, Sirius is always tortuously sexy, Neville is always fabulously adorable, Luna is always delightfully crazy, and Snape and Lily are always heartbreakingly tragic.

I have an ENORMOUS problem wherein I fall in love with couples who have epically unrequited love affairs (Wolverine and Jean, Sango and Miroku, Marianne and Colonel Brandon, Ophelia and Hamlet, Chuck and Blair, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, Arwen and Boromir… That last one isn’t real or logical, at least not according to Tolkien). Snape and Lily are no exception to this rule, and I got equally choked up the second time around when I read “The Prince’s Tale”. Talk about an all encompassing, all time love. It’s probably what made me despise James and in turn Harry (they’re both kind of douches- especially in book 5). If only James hadn’t existed/Snape hadn’t joined Voldemort, then we really would be reading Neville Longbottom and the Goblet of Fire. If you didn’t feel bad for Snape the entire series you couldn’t help but feel for the love he bore right up until his death. Now that’s Patronus changing love. Always.

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2 thoughts on “Why I Love Reading: Cassie-la Re-reads “Harry Potter”

  1. I love this.

    I always thought that if I went to Hogwarts, I would just write with pens and notebooks. I mean, quills and ink are so messy! And hello, LINED paper? Anyone? Wizards are so backwards sometimes.

    Stephanie and I have actually thought a lot about how with the internet, basically, muggles have surpassed wizards a quadrillion times over, no matter what magic they can do. I can instantly get in touch with almost everyone I know. Wizards have to use an owl. Or a fireplace. Or magic two-way mirrors, and it really boggles my mind that EVERYONE doesn’t have a magic communication mirror, because it would be damn convenient. Especially when you’re in the middle of a war and are worried that your friends and family could be killed by evil! GET A CELL PHONE.

    Although we DON’T have a cure for the common cold. Hmm…

    Clearly there is an American wizard school. Where would all those American exchange students at Hogwarts come from then??? Oh wait.

  2. ALSO, the reason that Dave is in that picture and not me is because I was always too afraid to go to midnight releases. There were too many horror stories about spoilers.

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