Laughter and books make life a little easier

Posts tagged “Harry Potter

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Thoughts are powerful and, therefore, dangerous

Thoughts

Anybody who has ever struggled with mental issues will immediately recognise the truth in this insignificant little sentence in the fifth Harry Potter book. It’s hidden between much more important plot points, but it has the weight of wisdom.

When your own mind becomes the enemy and your thoughts more dangerous than anything else you will see its significance. Your own thoughts damage you and you cannot see how you could control it.

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A long note and a short essay

Hi. I have been absent from the blog again. I had so been hoping to post regularly again, but the mundane had other plans. Simply put, my internet died. This time it was not me hitting the data cap, or some inexplicable internet silence that lasts some hours. It died, well and properly. It did not go down like a hero, fighting until the last, but I can only hope that it will have some characteristics of the archetypal, ever-renewed hero who will rise again when need is greatest. Now I can only wonder how long still before my need is greatest… It’s been a whole week. I am growing more and more bored and frustrated. Yes, I know I am addicted to the internet to a certain degree. I also know that I can live without it, but that I don’t want to. I am alone most of the time and though I am happy to be that way, the internet has taught me what community is and to have that torn away from you… (more…)


Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

* This post may have some hints of spoilers, but nothing that isn’t floating about in the Potterverse every day. *

Well, it’s time to confess. Imagine me, squaring up to finally proclaim this publicly.

I still haven’t read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I know there are people who will hate me for this. There are those who think you can’t love Harry Potter if you haven’t read all the books. There are those who think you can’t be a “true” fan if you haven’t read all the books. I hate all these arguments. These are the reasons why, most of the time, I dislike the Harry Potter-fandom. However, I find myself drawn to it, time and again. It is fascinating and repelling at the same time.

I love Harry Potter. But I have reasons why I haven’t read it. Unlike many other people whom I’ve interacted with on the internet, I hold no fear that HP will “end” if I read the last book. Books don’t just “end”. My reasons are much simpler than that.You see, at the time it came out, I had been dealing with a lot of loss and death. I couldn’t stand, on top of all this, the death (or even just the possible death) of some of my favourite characters. My mother bought me the book when it came out, but it just sat on my shelf, gathering dust. It’s still there. I saw both the Deathly Hallows movies. People have told me about the plot so many times that I even know the differences between the book and the movies. But I haven’t actually read it.

I also have a second reason for this. After reading the sixth book when it came out – much too fast, because I didn’t actually have time for this and I was simply racing to be done – I kind of turned against Harry Potter. As I closed Half Blood Prince for the last time (I’ve only read it once) I ended up crying and being furious at Snape. From the first book, I thought he was Dumbledore’s man. Not necessarily a good man, but only in the Death Eater circle as a spy. As the sixth book ended, for the first time I was unsure. I didn’t like it, and I was starting to think this series was a mess. It was getting dragged on too long now. You see (here comes another revelation), I didn’t like the fifth book much either. Because *gasp* I never liked Sirius much. He grated across my nerves from the beginning, and between him and Harry, the fifth book was driving me against the walls. I wasn’t even sad when it happened. I was a bit sorry for Harry of course, but mostly I was just relieved.

I didn’t really want to read the seventh book anymore.

Then the Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie came out and I knew it was finally time to face this story. When I watched it, I found I could face it. I found that I have now grown stronger than the death that last time threatened to overwhelm me and keep me down. Then Part 2 came out and brought me right back home to being a Harry Potter fan. For the book, the timing was just wrong for me. For the movie, it was exactly right. I want to read the book now. But…

I don’t think I could get maximum enjoyment out of it now. I have read the first five books so many times I can recite them. I read the sixth book so fast I can only remember about four scenes from it and that’s all. I don’t think I’d understand everything and have it draw to a close if I read Deathly Hallows now. Which is what makes me want to reread the entire series. I want to start at the beginning again and read everything. Until I reach the seventh book, whereupon I will finally open it, read it, and finish it. But do you think I have time to do any of this? No, I don’t.

One day I will read this magnificent series and finally finish it. I will make one day happen. Until then, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville and Ginny will have to remain unfinished characters.

Someday…

Tomorrow’s post is about a book I wish more people would’ve read.

Sig3


Day 22 – Favourite book you own

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

I’m not quite sure what I am supposed to write for this post.  I’ve written about this favourite and that favourite and I’m still busy with the build-up to the final post: my favourite book of all time. So what makes this post different from any of those I just mentioned? I own most of the books that I have written about in the past three weeks. That’s simply the way that I worked, not having access to a library for a long time, so I had to beg for, buy or borrow all the books that I read during that time. Now I don’t know what to write about that has not already been written about, or is still to be written about. All that I can think of to talk about is book in my collection that has a special significance for some reason or other. They may not all be favourites, but they do have something that makes them special…

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer is the only book that I own that is autographed. I have no idea why it is autographed – I have never gone to a book signing before. I bought it that way, actually. It was at school and there was a book sale in the school library (where I worked, of course). A book store came and set up shop in the library. When I picked up this book, I saw that it was autographed on the first page: clearly it said Nancy Farmer. Well, I don’t know if its fellows were also signed. Perhaps they were. Perhaps these were pre-signed books that were then sent to be sold because no other use could be found for them. Or perhaps my copy being in this heap was just a mistake and should never have been sold in an ordinary school library. I just don’t know, but it’s mine now and I like it. I really like it, actually. For many years, I’ve had an interest in mythology and this book deals rather heavily with Norse Mythology and the writing of the Epic of Beowulf. It’s very good.

The Prisoner of Zenda is the oldest book in my collection, to the best of my belief. I had seen the animated movie and liked it, so then I picked up the book second-hand because I thought I would like it as well. Unfortunately I am now also compelled to say that I haven’t read it. I tried. I really tried, but it was so dry, so boring that I simply could not read it. Perhaps I should try again, but when I bought it I couldn’t manage it. I should go check again sometime exactly how old this book is… it’s completely falling apart and smelling very strongly of dust and something else.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone… because this is where it all began. Actually I own three copies of this book (it’s a long story). If people ask me if I’d give any of those away to people who don’t have books, I say “Sure!” and then I can’t pick which one to give away. Should I give away that very first copy? Or should I give away one of the others, each of which also has a special significance? Until I can choose, I think all three books will remain in my possession. One day, maybe I will be able to let some of them go, but for now, I would like to remember my childhood, reading Harry Potter.

And then… The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne. I absolutely loved this book when I read it as a kid. When I wrote about Treasure Island, I said that I had a thing for “deserted-on-an-island” kind of stories. I got it from the library and it was one of those copies that the library redressed when the old cover got too worn. So it had a plain green, hardback cover with the title in tiny golden letters on the spine. It was therefore not very noticeable or memorable. Well, I gave the book back to the library after I read it. Not long afterwards, the entire library was demolished to make place for a shopping centre (it was then moved lower down the street). At the same time, the library took the opportunity to redecorate and move all the books about. When I came to the new library again, several years later, everything was moved and I had no idea where to find that book again. I could remember the plot pretty well, but I had no idea who the author was or what the title was. I’m in that situation for several more books from that library actually, but don’t worry, at least this one story has a happy ending. One day last year, when I was walking the 821-shelves in my university library, a book caught my eye. It was this Puffin Classics edition of The Coral Island and as you can see up there, it is quite bright blue. When I went closer, the name sounded familiar. When I picked it up and read on the back, I knew immediately that I had found my lost book of years ago. When I found and bought this book in a second-hand bookstore, I was so happy that I now finally owned a copy of this childhood favourite. Now I can only laugh at the roundabout way that I had to find it again – first the cover, then the title and author, before I could finally search for it again.

Tomorrow I reveal a book that I have wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.

Sig3


Day 16 – Favourite female character: Part 1

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

Would anyone believe me if I said that it’s really hard for me to find words to describe what I am feeling? Usually I don’t have trouble with this, but to describe how (and why) I feel about certain characters is just really difficult. So just to say that I am crazy about Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter… it doesn’t seem enough. Why? Since when? How? I don’t seem able to make sentences about this. Writing about Luna has the added disadvantage that I have to write about how I was bullied at school at the same time to explain, and that is not something that I write easily about. I get emotional and that doesn’t help my coherence.

Luckily, there is harrypotterconfessions.tumblr.com. That something that I cannot find in words, I can find in the graphics they post.

A couple of days ago I wrote about how identifying with a character plays a role in choosing a favourite. While I do identify with Luna’s character, I identify more with the way that people treated her. Everyone pushed her away, ridiculed her and called her loony. I was also badly bullied at school: for reading books; for having uncool, old clothes; for being “different”. Then, enter Luna into my life. And she showed me that it was okay to be all these things. She taught me not to let the bullies have any say over my life. It was my life and I was allowed not to conform to the norms of others. It was one of the most liberating experiences of my life to have the example of Luna. She has to be the single book character that I owe the most to and who worked the most change in me. Remember how she used to wear radish earrings? One day at school, on a non-uniform day, I tried emulating her and wore parrot earrings. People laughed at me and I took them off, but I was ashamed. I felt like I was letting Luna down. Today, I am wearing my parrot earrings and who cares who is laughing at me behind my back?

I refer to this footwear as my Luna-outfit, because I imagine this to be similar to what she would wear on off days.
(Please ignore my childish bedspread back there.)

It took years, but I know the entrance of Luna Lovegood into Harry Potter helped to shape me into the person that I am today. I stopped caring what people think. I stopped even trying to fit in, because I never have and never will fit into the niche that people tried to cut for me.

Not all of my family have accepted who I am and how I am, and whenever I feel ashamed for disappointing people for not being the way they would like me to be, I can just remember how wonderful Luna was when she refused to conform. It’s okay when people laugh at me. I may not get bullied anymore, but in a way it is still there when people laugh and point fingers. I can remember that Luna didn’t give a damn what anyone else thought of her and it was that which shaped her character.

At the risk of sounding as sentimental as everyone else posting Harry Potter Confessions, I say that I will always be grateful to Luna for being such a great example to a girl who was trying to be herself and failing. I can only hope to one day be half as strong as Luna was, because I know how much it hurts when people call you crazy, just because you happen to be different from them.

And remember…

You’re just as sane as I am. – Luna

Part 2 of this post will follow tomorrow! 🙂

Sig3


Day 15 – Favourite male character: Part 1

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

 

Again I am splitting this post into two. My favourite male character… do you really except me to have only one? 😉

 

My favourite Harry Potter character definitely has to be Neville Longbottom. Followed very, very closely by Luna Lovegood in second place and Hermione in third. I like Harry and Ron and Ginny too, of course, but they have nothing that I can identify with. Personally, I think identifying with a character has a lot to do with liking a character. But my favourite character has to be Neville Longbottom. And yes, I liked the character from the very first book, not just since Matthew Lewis got really attractive. Like with Luna, I could identify my own bullied self in him. But, unlike Luna who taught me that it was okay to be who I wanted to be and not who the world wanted me to be, Neville taught me bravery. Now, however, I must digress first to explain properly how I felt about this.

So, there were the four houses at Hogwarts. Right from the very first, I identified with Ravenclaw house. I never could identify with the values of Gryffindor. Bravery? I’m not brave. I’m scared to death of dogs. Dogs, of all things! I used to jump behind my dad whenever I saw a dog not on a lead or behind a fence. I still do. Then there was Slytherin. I did not identify with them either. Ambition was one thing, but cunning and manipulative? I could not be like that. I could not step on other people to further myself, because I know how much it hurts. I could not be prepared to do anything to achieve what I wanted. Then there was Hufflepuff, but I knew that compassion was not my thing. Loyalty is one thing, but I am not good at compassion. Lastly, Ravenclaw. And I knew I was an academic, just like I know it now. I knew that one was the house that I would have been in.

Then, when I joined Pottermore, I got sorted into Ravenclaw. Yes! 😀

Some time back, I took a house quiz – the one that is considered by the most people that I have spoken to. This is what it gave me: A tie between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, but I knew Ravenclaw would be the one for me. However, what surprised me the most was how close behind Gryffindor was, only one mark, and that got me thinking. What kind of traits am I supposed to have to land me there? Eventually, I started to think of Neville again: Neville who thought that he was in the wrong house because he was not brave. He was courage-less, witless, and skill-less. But that did not make him worthless. Neville had to learn that it takes more bravery to stand up to your friends that to your enemies and at that the same time I learned a very important lesson. I was in with the wrong gang at that stage. I did not want to do the things they wanted to, because it was wrong. Soon after, I got out. Well, they kicked me, but at the same time I managed to break the evil cycle and start new with the best friends I could ever have wished for and never dared hope for. I learned from Neville and that first brave-Neville moment remains my very favourite and the reason why he is my favourite character. When I doubt, I think of this again, and hope. I am not brave, but maybe I can be.

Harry Potter is full of lessons, which is what makes it such a powerful story. I think it taught every single reader something about themselves while they were reading it. Maybe J.K. Rowling is not the best at writing elegant prose, but she is a wonderful story-teller and she has a talent of creating realistic characters and drawing a thread of them through several books before it finally culminates.

 

PS. Why on earth does the fandom ship Neville and Luna together? I don’t understand at all: they don’t even suit each other. Also the ship name Lovebottom is absolutely riddikulus, yo. It is asking for an innuendo. Or maybe that was the point.

 

Part 2 of this post will follow tomorrow!

Sig3