Notes on a Harry Potter Reread

These are small posts that come from my old blog, but which I hadn’t previously reposted here, from the last time I reread the Harry Potter series (in 2014).

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I wish I could remember exactly how many times I’ve read the earlier books in the series; obviously it’s more than the later books, because starting around book four, each time a new book came out I read all the previous ones again. Based on that, this was at least my tenth time, including once on audio.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Read for the seventh time.

This is my favorite of the HP books. I just love all the backstory surrounding Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. Remus Lupin is one of my favorite characters in the series, and he and Sirius really get the spotlight in this book. (I was not happy when I saw the third movie; I couldn’t believe they left all of this out! It has since grown on me, but I still think it misses the real heart.) Such a fantastic part of the story. Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets are just really solid fantasy books, but I think this is the first where Rowling shows us how good she is.

Percy, however, held out his hand solemnly as though he and Harry had never met and said, “Harry. How nice to see you.”
“Hello, Percy,” said Harry, trying not to laugh.
“I hope you’re well?” said Percy pompously, shaking hands. It was rather like being introduced to the mayor.
“Very well, thanks—”
“Harry!” said Fred, elbowing Percy out of the way and bowing deeply. “Simply splendid to see you, old boy—”
“Marvelous,” said George, pushing Fred aside and seizing Harry’s hand in turn. “Absolutely spiffing.”
Percy scowled.
“That’s enough, now,” said Mrs. Weasley.
“Mum!” said Fred as though he’d only just spotted her and seizing her hand too. “How really corking to see you—”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Read for (approximately) the sixth time.

I was just telling a coworker the other day that I thought this was my least favorite of the HP books. Having just finished it again, I can’t believe I thought that. I guess when I haven’t read it in a while, I remember the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament and think . . . meh. But this book is so, so good. I probably read it in the same amount of time that I did Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire is 300 pages longer. The scene after Harry comes back from the graveyard is one of my favorites in all of the books, and that storyline with Hermione and Rita Skeeter is pure brilliance (yet another incredible plot that the movies had to skip). So exciting, and so hard to read on your breaks at work when you have to keep putting it down!

“There might not be time after the World Cup, the match went on for five days last time.”
“Wow—hope it does this time!” said Harry enthusiastically.
“Well, I certainly don’t,” said Percy sanctimoniously. “I shudder to think what the state of my in-tray would be if I was away from work for five days.”
“Yeah, someone might slip dragon dung in it again, eh, Perce?” said Fred.
“That was a sample of fertilizer from Norway!” said Percy, going very red in the face. “It was nothing personal!”
“It was,” Fred whispered to Harry as they got up from the table. “We sent it.”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Read for the fifth or sixth time. This one kills me, for so many reasons. Sirius and Snape; the Weasley kids and their dad; poor Harry, who is such a teenager, and can’t we all remember being awful when we were teenagers? It’s probably my favorite of the movies, because I think it does the best job capturing the feel of the book, and it’s such a suspenseful part of the story. And of course, Fred and George’s big scene is legendary, another one of my favorites.

One downside: As proud as we are of great women in this series (and rightfully so), there’s actually quite a lot of subtle sexism, and I think this book is where you see it the most. Every few pages toward the beginning of the book it’s “that Grubbly-Plank woman” this or “that Umbridge woman” that, and let’s be honest, people just don’t ever talk about men that way (and it’s certainly never a positive thing). Plus it’s always Hermione or the other girls screaming, covering their mouths, clutching someone’s (a boy’s) arm, gasping, etc., while I guess we’re supposed to assume that the boys are all stoic and brave. I was just aware of it when I never really have been before, and it was a tiny disturbance in my enjoyment.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Read for the fourth time. This one’s hard (although interestingly, Order of the Phoenix was harder for me this time around). You catch so much more in the re-reads, when you already know what’s happening with Snape.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. svetasbooks says:

    Brings back early twenties. I began Harry Potter in middle school. My favorite book was number 3. I didn’t like books 5-7, 5th being least favorite.

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    1. Gwen says:

      I can definitely understand why. The fifth is the most difficult for me to read, still, and probably the least pure fun. Harry Potter is associated with my early twenties as well, because college is when I really got into the series. My English teacher gave me the first book when I was 14, but it didn’t hook me until I read the second one a few years later. At that point, I was caught up with the books as they were being released, and it was so much fun to read them that way, speculating with all my friends about what we thought would happen next.

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