Rereadings: (Some of) the Harry Potter Series

June 4, 2010 at 12:00 am 16 comments

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!



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16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Britney  |  June 4, 2010 at 5:07 am

    This is only your second time through the series? I think I read a Harry Potter book a week my freshman year of high school – and there were only four of them at the time. :) Starting with the second book, I read each book and immediately started reading it again, slower.

    My favorite is Order of the Phoenix. I know some people don’t like it because it’s bloated, but it’s the funniest book of the series and it’s the only one where Professor McGonagall has a role big enough to prove just how awesome she is. Neville’s potential is beginning to be unlocked. Hogwarts turns into utter chaos under Umbridge’s rule. This book is also my sister’s favorite, and last summer she listened to the audiobooks at her office job and emailed me with McGonagall updates as she was listening to it.

    I would like to go through the series again, as while I did reread the series in the weeks before the seventh book came out it wasn’t quite in order (started with book 5 and finished book 4 after midnight on release day).

    (Incidentally, my least favorite book in the series has always been Chamber of Secrets because Harry and Ron make incredibly stupid decisions. For awhile I started reading the book at the point where Ginny is taken into the Chamber of Secrets because I hated the rest of it. Who ever thought it would be a good idea to fly a car to school?)

    • 2. Britney  |  June 4, 2010 at 5:16 am

      Also, I am passionate for Harry not just because I loved the books but because it introduced me to a lot of people who helped me get through my own angst-ridden teenage years. I read it, discussed it, and bonded with others who loved Harry on the internet, and I’m still friends with some of those people.

    • 3. Corey  |  June 4, 2010 at 9:29 am

      It’s my second time through the entire series (just started your favorite), but not by any stretch my second time reading most of the books! I’ve just read them multiple times out of order and not at all since the series ended. I’ve read the first three most often (although not recently) and then I reread “The Half-Blood Prince” last summer before the movie came out. I think I’ve only read “Goblet of Fire,” “Order of the Phoenix,” and “Deathly Hallows” once each, though. (I may have read “Goblet” more than once before this, although clearly my memory isn’t very good!)

      I’m not a big “Order of the Phoenix” person because I hate angst-ridden, whiny Harry and Umbridge. And I don’t like the whole battle at the end (or I suppose I should say I don’t like the outcome). I don’t remember all the McGonagall goodness, but I do love her so I’ll keep you posted about how that progresses. I just started it last night and we’re just leaving Privet Drive so no McGonagall yet.

      Anyway, I TOTALLY agree about “Chamber of Secrets.” Dreadful book. Everybody makes stupid decisions throughout from Harry and Ron to Ginny to Lockhart just being a general twat. And it has Hagrid off in Azkaban totally wrongfully and the icky spiders plot. Blech. I have yet to meet someone who has “Chamber” as their favorite. You seem more in touch with the community: have you?

  • 4. KT  |  June 4, 2010 at 7:36 am

    I love, love, LOVE the Tri-Wizard Tournament and almost everything in The Goblet of Fire! Order of the Phoenix is quickly growing on me, though, and I appreciate it much more now that the series has ended.

    • 5. Corey  |  June 4, 2010 at 9:33 am

      Indeed, “Goblet of Fire” was quite good. I like how Rowling places clues throughout the book about the Crouch/Moody plot as well as Rita Skeeter but there’s still no way you would call either! Nothing like a sudden reveal ending. And I like how Dumbledore comes more to the fore. I forgot how peripheral he was in the first three books! He becomes such a major character later!

      I suspect that will be the case for me, too. I just started “Order of the Phoenix” late last night so I’m hoping to like it more.

  • 6. Kim  |  June 5, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Hmm! I don’t know! I still really enjoyed the first ones, but things aren’t as exciting as later in the series. I just read the entire series for the first time this time last year. Maybe it’s time to reread them!

    • 7. Corey  |  June 7, 2010 at 9:59 am

      That’s very funny that you find the later books less exciting (what with Voldemort rising again and everything)! I actually like the first and third best, too.

  • 8. Iris  |  June 6, 2010 at 6:39 am

    I recently started rereading Harry Potter for the ??th time as well. On audio this time though. And I have to admit that I find something new every time.

    • 9. Corey  |  June 7, 2010 at 9:58 am

      Ooo, how’s the audio version? Who does the readings?

      • 10. Britney  |  June 11, 2010 at 4:04 am

        The American version is Jim Dale (aka the narrator on Pushing Daisies). The British version is Stephen Fry.

      • 11. Corey  |  June 11, 2010 at 7:35 am

        I love both those readers! Thanks for the info, Britney.

  • 12. Shannon  |  June 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I just finished my own re-read of the entire series — I usually do it once a year. My favorite is “Order of the Phoenix,” followed very (very very) closely by “Deathly Hallows” and “Prisoner of Azkaban.” I love “Order” for the very reason you don’t — I think “whiny, angsty” Harry is perfect at this juncture in the overall story… though I call him “angry Harry” instead.

    I’m warming up to “Chamber of Secrets” but it’s really never been my fave — the whole flying car incident really begins things on a bad note and it never really picks up from there for me. I too am very in touch with the HP fan community, and I’ve never come across anyone who cites this volume as their favorite, but there has to be someone, somewhere…

    • 13. Corey  |  June 10, 2010 at 7:21 am

      Wow, once a year! Kudos!

      I think “angry Harry” just bothers me because, while he does have a right to be annoyed with the way the adults are treating him, he lashes out just completely irrationally at his peers who are really trying to help him and have proved that they really care about him. The yelling at Dumbledore at the end was the only part for me where it made sense for him to be angry and that he was taking it out on the correct person.

      One day we’ll find this mysterious person who likes “Chamber” and then the book can feel all good about itself. : )

      • 14. KT  |  June 10, 2010 at 7:38 am

        I always got the feeling that “angry Harry” was angry because of his connection with Voldemort, though now that I’ve reread Order it seems that’s never mentioned. Hmmm.

      • 15. Corey  |  June 10, 2010 at 7:51 am

        That would have made SO much more sense!

  • […] Reread Corey: Is it lame to say the Harry Potter books? I reread the whole series a few years ago and, finding that to be an incredibly rewarding experience, have been trying to reread at least one […]


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