Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Harry Potter

In an effort to keep it interesting for those people who don't run or use Abaqus I'm going to try to expand what I write about. There will still be plenty of running and Abaqus but other stuff too.

Starting in middle school my chosen method of picking books for about five years consisted of going in and looking around for ten minutes before asking the librarian what I should read. The more I think about it the more grateful I am to have had two very good, well read, librarians in middle school and high school. Although, For Whom the Bell tolls and The Divine Comedy are not easy reads for a freshman in high school.

This tale takes up back to early winter in the year 1999. We were required to read about ten books throughout the year and one particular day during seminar (a 50 minute study hour every day) I went to the library and asked if she would recommend any books. She just so happened to have a book she thought I might like: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Apparently it was an up and coming book that was rapidly gaining popularity. It was new so I might have been the first person in my school to read the book. At around 400 pages it could be a little intimidating for most 8th graders. Never the less I dived in and after maybe a hundred pages I was so enthralled by the plot line and the characters that I finished the book in only a few days.

I brought the book back and told her it was really good and asked if there was the second year (second book) and it just so happened that she had it. So I read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. About this time I was really getting into it and I remember one night were I would read a chapter, look at the clock and decide I could read another chapter. This went on from as soon as I finished supper to I think 2 AM. Most of my friends know that I'm usually asleep by 11 and rarely awake past 12 and it has been that way most of my life. The story line was just so compelling that I did not want to put it down. The next semester I read the Prisoner of Azkaban and began waiting for the fourth book.

Part of the reason I found the Harry Potter series so impelling is that the series starts with a kid who feels a little different. I know lots of people and most people feel a little different. It is about this magical world where he finds a place he belongs, and is even famous. As you read the book you get to learn, at the same time he does, everything that is new and different in this magical world. As the books progress they delve deeper in the relationships and ultimate climax of the seventh book. The story takes us on a journey with many twists, turns, laughs, and even crying. Many parts of the book mimic our lives. Suffering, confusion, fear, confidence, enlightenment and humor all pepper these books.

I watched the sixth movie on Sunday evening and it was one of the better Harry Potter movies. I realized that there is only one more movie in the series and then that's it. Seven books and seven movies. More than a decade of since I started reading the first book. I believe J.K. Rowling is now a billionaire while she was once on welfare. I have read thousands of pages by hundreds of authors and I believe that a large part of how writing affects us is based on what point in our life we read it. Harry Potter grew up about the same time I was growing up and that made the series strike close to the heart. What inspiration can I take from Harry? The same inspiration I can take from millions of other struggling humans but with eloquent writing: when your back is up against the wall you will do what it takes to get it done.

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