Rereadings: (Some of) the Harry Potter Series
My latest rereading starting innocently enough with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This somewhat inevitably led to rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. By the time I finished that, I had to go on to my favorite of the series: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I think you can probably guess what happened when I finished that one. (Yes, it involves the Triwizard Tournament.)
While these rereadings in general were basically as I expected them to be (excellent!), I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they actually got better now that the series has ended and I know where everything is leading. There was something completely addictive about reading them in “real time” as they came out, but there is another enticing quality altogether in reading them again after everything is said and done.
First of all, when you’re not racing desperately to the end to find out what happens, you can take time to appreciate J.K. Rowling’s whimsy and delightful writing style. She’s genuinely funny and, in rereading, I was able to truly appreciate the expanse of her creativity. She created this entire much beloved world. The first time around, everything was taken for granted as the way things were in the England of Harry Potter. The second time around I had the leisure to be awed by her capacity for creation.
Secondly, knowing how things turn out gives you a whole new way to view the plots of the individual books and the development of the characters. I just know things are coming so I view the present differently. I cherished Lupin and Sirirus far more than in my first rereading and paid far more attention to Snape, his actions, and his apparent motivations than before.
And thirdly, I was thoroughly wowed by Rowling’s ability to craft an entire narrative within each book that still incorporated the broader plot of the series. I know there are lots of series out there who attempt this, but I think there are few who do it successfully. (Robert Jordan springs to mind.) In every book in the Harry Potter, readers learn something new that has meaning in the series-wide plot while simultaneously having some degree of relevance for the book-plot at hand. It’s an impressive double-narrative.
Perhaps I was just dense the first time around (although my age probably didn’t help), but rereading these books proved hugely rewarding. In fact, it’s something I’m considering doing far more often, at least with the first three.
And all that said, I would love to hear what your favorite Harry Potter book is and what your favorite part in that book is. Azkaban is absolutely my bar-none favorite probably because it is the book which least involves Voldemort and also has a great mystery-plot rather than a more adventure-based plot. My favorite part in the book is probably last few chapters where we learn all about Sirius and Lupin and then relive it using Hermione’s Time-Turner. Brilliant. So what’s yours? Tell on!