Monday, June 17, 2013

Harry Potter Read-Along/Discussion [1]

Welcome to my first ever discussion post as a part of my summer re-read of the Harry Potter series!

The Low Down: As I'm sure many of you have seen in my post here on my blog about a week ago, I'm going to spend my summer reading the Harry Potter series all over again (along with many other books on my TBR). I'm going to go the slow and methodical route, taking a few weeks to read each book, and hopefully be done by the end of August - we shall see!

I will be posting every Sunday with a discussion on whichever chapters I have read thus far, plus additional posts to discuss the movies, Pottermore, and a final "review" of each book (as if anyone is worthy to "review" Harry Potter). On another note, I've also been a horrible fellow-blogger and have neglected to participate in the Harry Potter Moment of the Week hosted by Leah at Uncorked Thoughts. I love her idea, I just sometimes forget to post. But since this summer is going to decked in HP, I will be participating each Thursday, and hope you all will too!

This should prove to be a very Harry Potter-esque summer for me and hopefully you guys too! :)

So far this past week I have read chapters 1-4 of the Sorcerer's Stone, so I'll provide a little recap and give you my thoughts and ask you for yours!

Recap - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (aka the Philosopher's Stone), Chapters 1 - 4

We meet the Dursleys, Petunia and Vernon, with their son Dudley, who are as "normal" as normal can be. (Now I don't necessarily think having a big jerk of a child who you let throw tantrums 24/7 and do whatever they want is considered normal, but I had a much different family dynamic...)

Anyhow, Uncle Vernon sees our friendly wizards and the beginning of our story, thinking of them as people while, unbeknownst to Vernon, they celebrate the vanquishing of You-Know-Who as the community simultaneously mourns Harry's parents killed by Voldemort, and "worship" Harry as the Boy Who Lived. Famous baby-wizard Harry ends up on his Aunt and Uncle's doorstep, and though they want nothing to do with the Potter family, especially the baby, they do the right thing and take him in.

Ten awful years later after sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs his whole life and his aunt and uncle treating him like a peasant and a freak, Harry starts to get letters a few days before his 11th birthday. From who? The chapter is called "The Letters from No One." We know this is quite the opposite. They are letters from Professor McGonagall at Hogwarts granting Harry acceptance into Hogwarts! His uncle wont let him have the letters and upon thinking (knowing) he is being watched, Uncle Vernon goes bat-sh*t crazy and runs away from their home so the letters will stop coming. But they don't. They get delivered every where they go until they go to a little hut on a rock in the middle of the sea and Vernon thinks he has won! But then Hagrid, a big giant man the size of two men, shows up to finally take care of the delivery himself.

Harry hasn't a freaking clue what Hogwarts is. His aunt and uncle have hidden his wizard-ness from him his whole life. Weird things had always happened to him, like the disappearing glass at the zoo on Dudley's last birthday and his hair growing back within a day, but he never guessed anything like this was possible! Hagrid fills Harry in, tells him that he is a wizard, Voldemort killed his parents, and now he gets to go away to a wizard school and get away from the Dursleys. By the end of chapter 4, Harry is in awe and hopes its not all a dream when he wakes up, and it isn't! Hagrid finally leaves with Harry in  tow to buy his school things, and Harry leaves without so much as a second glance at his family.


The first book in the Harry Potter series is very likely my favorite because of how much there is to learn upon re-reading. For example, as we meet the Dursleys, we run into a lot of aspects we know to be much more substantial in later books. The "weird" people in the streets being witches and wizards celebrating Voldemort's "death", Professor McGonagall's Animagus status, Dumbledore's silver "put-outer", good ol' Mrs. Figg. Things that as a fan, you know right off the bat when you go back into this book after reading it even just once. What I'm getting at is that it goes to show you how well put together this series is. Everything connects, even from the first few pages of book one.

Also, I never realized how much this first book makes me laugh. There are all sorts of silly little jokes and anecdotes adding to the magic of it all.

  • When I read this book for the first time a million years ago, I didn't know Harry. And all I could wonder was how his aunt and uncle could treat him so horribly - I remember being truly appalled by it, especially growing up with loving parents. But through all their fear and loathing for anything abnormal, they took Harry in and raised him. Dumbledore thought it would be best for Harry to be raised with Muggles, outside of the wizarding world, away from fame, and his family raised him, though they may not have loved him. Do you think this was the best choice for Harry? Do you think it would have been better for him to be raised by a friend of the Potters, possibly Lupin, and just grow up with the fame, at least knowing who he is (notwithstanding the deeper reasons we uncover in later books)? Or do you think Dumbledore made the right choice?

  • Here's a weird question, mainly for those of you who don't live in England or anywhere near there in Europe-ish.... When you read, do you read (in your head) in a British accent? I've found that I do both. I also hear Hagrid's actual voice and accent in my head, but sometimes I catch myself just reading in an American accent, not a British one.

  • What's in a name? In the first chapter when McGonagall and Dumbledore are talking about Voldemort's timely demise, McGonagall refers to him as "You-KNow-Who" and Dumbledore implores her not to, and to call him by his name. Other than the fact that Voldemort is just plain scary and powerful, why is the entire wizarding community afraid of even saying his name? What is it about saying the name of something that makes it scary? Don't you think that just gives it more power?

  • Aunt Petunia is very candid with the fact that she hates her "freak" of a sister. Much later on, we find out why, and that it has just a bit more to do than with Petunia not being the golden child at home. Do you think it was easy to tell she was jealous at first or did you think it purely meanness driving her hatred?

  • Its almost heartbreaking when Harry wakes up convinced he is dreaming and thinks he will have to go back to his normal miserable life. This is my favorite thing to daydream about - what would you have done if you suddenly got a letter by owl post to your muggle home saying you were accepted into Hogwarts?

I'd love to hear what you have to say on all of these topics? Leave me your thoughts in comment form, or feel free to post your thoughts on your own page and link in the comments section so we can all discuss together. I don't know about you, but HP is my favorite thing to discuss ever!

Also, I'd love feedback since this is the first post I've done regarding my HP re-read! Thanks! :)


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