The Last Great Mystery of Harry Potter(don’t be a conformist nonconformist.)
As writers and Harry Potter fans, we know that Harry Potter is not just a book. Is the moon just a rock? Is The Mona Lisa just a painting? No way man, the Moon and The Mona Lisa mean things, stand for things, and so does Harry Potter.
Few collections of words have ever inspired a generation to read, but that is exactly what Harry did. For me, Harry Potter got me to read ‘kid’ books again, and that was the single best thing that could have ever happened. I shudder as I think about the books I never would have written if I only wrote books for grownups.
The first book in the series came out in the United States in 1998 just a few days shy of my fifteenth birthday, but I was already way too cool for kid’s books. I was into the Classics, and romance novels by Daniel Steel. By some miracle I accidentally stumbled into the book when Chamber of Secrets had just been released. I had exactly five minutes in the bookstore (because they still existed back then) to select and buy a book. Otherwise, I’d have nothing to read while on a really horrendous car trip with the parents.
Lucky for me, The Sorcerer’s Stone was on an end cap. By the time we had made the drive from Houston to San Antonio I was done, and the first stop at Rivercenter Mall was to buy the sequel.
The Death of a Lit Snob.
I remember vividly scoffing at the other students in my English classes in junior high as they read Goosebumps while I read Tom Sawyer, and The Giver. I thought once you graduated into adult books you stayed there, and never went back. I was proud of the post college reading level I scored on some random test in the 7th grade. I thought that meant I should be reading post college level books, and that everything else was beneath me.
Can you believe people still think that way?
I have been amazed at the number of writers, even writers who write middle grade and young adult books, who have not, and often blatantly refuse to read Harry Potter. Let’s go over some of the popular excuses.
“I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”
“I refuse to read it just because everyone else has.”
Let’s take them on individually. Ever seen a kid refuse to eat something because they don’t like it? They don’t like it, because they haven’t tried it, and that is exactly what the answer says to me. If you read the book, then you would know what the fuss was about. Harry Potter is not a fad, there is a reason it has staying power and that is what makes it truly great.
The second answer is given by those I like to refer to as the nonconformist conformist. People who are just too cool or well read to partake in Harry. You run across them a lot in the world if literary fiction. I don’t know what is worse, the people who won’t read Harry Potter because they claim it won’t help them with their genre, or the people who write middle grade and young adult who refuse to read it because they think they don’t have to.
You have to.
The truth of the matter is, most people who will read a multitude of books in their lifetime have read Harry. That means, as a writer, it is possibly the best and worst work to be compared to. The love this book series enjoys has set the bar in which other books will be judged to a virtually unachievable height. Ignoring it, or claiming that you are above such things, will only come back to haunt you in the end.
Friends don’t let friends shun Harry Potter.
Thank you, Angela! You can find Angela regularly chatting on Twitter at @AngelaKulig as well as conducting random writing tweet-chats at #writingatgunpoint and #ninjachat.
I hope to continue more guest post columns on a regular basis. If you'd like to be a guest on this blog, or you volunteered to do one before and we haven't yet set up a time, please drop me an e-mail at SPSipal AT gmail DOT com!