Tag Archives: Harry Potter

WHAT I READ: April 2014

I should just accept that four books is a reasonable number of books to read in a month, and anything more would be nothing short of a miracle. This blog post is kind of all over the place, and I don’t know how much anybody else will get out of this. It’s mostly just ramblings and stories, but I’m posting for posterity. These are the books I read in April.

Books Books

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN by JK Rowling

I started reading Harry Potter when I was 10 or 11, which is comparatively later than many of my peers. Or at least, it felt that way. In primary school, we had this reading rewards program where they encouraged us to read books by completing reading-based activities, and if we completed a certain number of activities within a month or whatever, we got a voucher for one Pizza Hut buffet. Which was more relevant when Pizza Hut buffets actually existed and were delicious.

But anyway, one of the activities was to pick one page out of whatever novel you were reading, and read it out loud to the class. One boy in my class was super into Harry Potter, and I was like “haha what a nerd”, but I think that was mostly because he used to bully me a bunch and so everything he liked was horrible because he was just the worst. Except that he chose to read out a page describing a really exciting Quidditch match (I forget which one) and I went from being slumped over my desk in a bored stupor to sitting up straight and thinking “oh no…this is great and I must read all the Harry Potter books I can immediately”.

I think this was also during Book Week, when we have to dress up as a book character and walk or “parade” around, because what is cuter than small children in costume? But the best part about Book Week was the book fair in the library, which was the only time I could buy my own books, so I always looked forward to it. That year I searched frantically for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but all they had was Prizoner of Azkaban — the adult paperback version, no less! Why on earth would you buy anything with a cover marketed to adults to sell at a children’s book fair?! HOW COULD A GREYSCALE HIPPOGRIFF APPEAL TO A YOUNG AUDIENCE??? Maybe there was a batch mistake. I bought it anyway, because I was that desperate to start reading the series.

Anyway, that is why Prisoner of Azkaban was the first Harry Potter book I ever read, and why it is the only one with a drastically different cover. It is still my favourite Harry Potter book. Time travel! Dementors! Sir Cadogan! What’s not to love?

THE SPELL BOOK OF LISTEN TAYLOR by Jaclyn Moriarty

Jaclyn Moriarty is one of my favourite writers, but hardly anyone I know has heard of her. She used to keep a blog that I loved reading, but then she stopped updating it. She also wrote the Ashbury/Brookfield series, which I adore, and a standalone called I Have A Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes. More recently, she’s written The Colours of Madeline Trilogy, but I haven’t read any of those books yet.

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor is a reimagining of I Have A Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes, but with more focus on the teenager (Listen Taylor). The plot itself is the same though, I think.

Here is what The Spell Book is about:

  • infidelity
  • families
  • a snow storm in Sydney
  • the Zing Family Secret
  • teenage girls
  • magic (a little)

This is a good book. I like it.

MONSTERS OF MEN by Patrick Ness

In my final year of high school, one of my major projects was to write a short thesis or a creative writing piece for an Extension English class. My English teacher made a point to tell us that using creative spacing or differently sized fonts was not the ideal way to convey emotion to the reader. That we should just use our words instead. Or something like that.

I have a feeling my English teacher would have rolled her eyes at the changes in both fonts and sizes in the Chaos Walking trilogy, but I think it works. It feels a little heavy-handed at times, but I mean, how else are you supposed to make an explosion land without using an all-caps, 30pt BOOM?

But yes, I finally read the last instalment of the Chaos Walking trilogy. I liked it. There was a lot of Miaka! Tamahome!-esque yelling from the two main characters —which I will never not roll my eyes at — but the romance wasn’t too unbearable, and it was actually a decent plot device, so good work Patrick Ness. You write good series.

THE TEN THOUSAND FOLLAR TAN LINE by Rob Thomas

Another novel that takes me back to high school; one of our English modules was on crime fiction, and my English teacher1 said that it was her favourite genre to read, because formulaic mysteries are the best mysteries. I privately disagreed, because where was the fun in reading if you knew how the story was structured, and particularly if you had to study that structure for a whole year (or term? I honestly forget how the school year is set out)?

But then again, some of my favourite television shows — House, Veronica Mars, Castle — have all had protagonists who were the hard-boiled detective reimagined, so I mean, maybe she had a point.

Reading The Ten Thousand Dollar Tan Line was exactly like watching an episode of Veronica Mars. It helped that I had recently seen the film, which leaves off where the novel starts. It reminded me of how much I loved the show, and because of the medium, it didn’t include any unnecessary cameos or fanservice (looking at you, The Veronica Mars Movie feat James Franco), and it was just a nice, easy read. Not enough to get me back into the crime fiction genre, but enough to rekindle my appreciation for it.

I also started reading some Harry Potter fanfiction, and I’ve been using the Pocket Fiction app on my iPad to do so. It basically downloads the stories from a server (Fanfiction.net is the default, but you can add other ones) and the app turns them into e-book files, breaks them into chapters, and makes them available offline. Back in the day, I just read my fanfiction from a computer browser, so this is crazy luxurious to me. Portable fanfiction? That’s nuts!

a different one, I took three different English classes in high school so I could read a bunch and still be credited for it.

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WHAT I READ: March 2014

March was not a good month for books. Like I mentioned at the end of February, The Ask and the Answer left me shaken, and on the lookout for more lighthearted books. I thought my answer to that would be “Paddle Your Own Canoe” by Ron Swanson Nick Offerman, but 30 or so pages later, I found that it wasn’t appealing to me at all — so I stopped reading it [queue gasp here].

I don’t generally like leaving books unfinished, but I found it kind of preachy and boring, and I simply could not go on. Turns out that while I enjoy watching Ron Swanson do his thing in Parks and Recreation, I can’t read an entire autobiography written by his real-life counterpart. Shame.

In the end, I didn’t get around to finishing as many books as I would have liked anyway, but here are the things I did read.

March BooksMarch Books

HOW TO LIVE SAFELY IN A SCIENCE FICTIONAL UNIVERSE by Charles Yu
I picked this up the day after I finished reading The Ask and the Answer. Some of the text in the book is in a different font to signify Noise, so when I flicked through the next book in the series (with intent to purchase and read it), I saw the Noise font and immediately felt super sad. Because I had actually been emotionally scarred by The Walking Chaos series. I couldn’t bring myself to read the book quite yet.

So I sent a shoutout on Twitter for books that were guaranteed to make me laugh.

Interestingly, several people independently recommended sci-fi/fantasy novels written by English men, which is how I found myself in the sci-fi/fantasy section. I had meant to choose a Discworld novel (by the excellent Terry Pratchett), but the available selection didn’t appeal to me, and I had flashbacks of not enjoying The Colour of Magic, so I passed.

Then I saw How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and I know they say never to judge a book by its cover, but I totally do all the time. And this cover appealed to be on several levels. But mostly aesthetically. It’s a pretty novel. And I’d recalled a positive review given by Priscilla of The Readables1, so bam, purchase made.

This is not a comical book. It is in no way light-hearted. Do not be fooled by the cartoon guns and the dog. A time machine repairman shoots himself-from-the-future, but it is not in a hilarious slapstick way.

This book is about time travel in a science fictional universe. It is about the comfort of mathematics, a boy/man’s relationship with his father, it is about family, it is about wanting, it is about regret. This made me feel so many things, because of its subject matter, but also because it reminded me of the major writing project I did in high school for English Extension 2. If I were as thoughtful and articulate as Charles Yu when I was seventeen.

This book did not make me happy, but I’m glad I read it anyway.

EQUAL RITES by Terry Pratchett
As I mentioned before, I wanted to read a Discworld book, but was having a hell of a time trying to choose one. After the above bookshop debacle, I met up with Kyri and he recommended Equal Rites. “A wizard accidentally passes on his wizard powers to a girl, and she has to navigate her way through the all-male wizard university” were words he said that I paraphrased just now.

I have read two Terry Pratchett novels — The Colour of Magic, and Good Omens — but I really only finished one of them (Good Omens, I suspect because of Gaiman). I found that while I enjoy Pratchett’s voice, there are times when my mind drifts so far during some parts of his books that when I come back to the story, I find that I have no idea what is going on. And no amount of backtracking will make me less confused, because my brains starts wandering AGAIN.

I have come to the conclusion that Terry Pratchett’s books are cursed.

HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE by JK Rowling
and
HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS by JK Rowling

There are several reasons I chose to start re-reading the Harry Potter series.
1. Harry Potter was the first book that made me really appreciate storytelling as a means of communication, and it was my first serious fandom, so I have a lot of sentimental attachment to it.
2. A bunch of Potter-y articles by Ella Ceron were popping up around the beginning of the month that made me think a lot about the series properly for the first time in ages.
3. Equal Rites is all about wizards and witches! Combined with the above reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about Harry and Ron and Hermione and Hogwarts. It had been a while and I was jonesing.
4. I needed to fall back into a fictional world, and what better world to fall into than one I was already intimate with?

So yeah, I read two Harry Potter books this month, and I’m not entirely sure they should count. Ideally, I would have read books that were brand new to me, that made me think about storytelling in a different way, or introduced me to new ideas. But then again, I am a huge believer that all reading is re-reading, so my return to Hogwarts is totally justifiable.2

I’m planning to finally finish the Walking Chaos series in April, so maybe that’ll get me back to reading. Or make me horribly depressed. WHO KNOWS?!


1 but I can’t find it, maybe it doesn’t exist. maybe I made it up in my mind. maybe I am living in a science fictional universe HELP.
2 also, my copy of Chamber of Secrets may or may not have scans of handwritten letters to JK Rowling from young readers who loved the books in the back of it, and I may or may not have cried a little when I read them. It may or may not have been 3am at the time.