The American novelist Joyce Carol Oates wrote that “art is a communal experience.” I’m not sure that I fully understood this when I first read it, but I now see it as one of the more dependable of aphorisms.
I have come to realize through Facebook comments and conversations with friends that we often share the same perceptions on the Harry Potter series.
Looking back at my childhood, I have fond memories and a favorite fictional character, Harry Potter.
I remember when the first book came out. I was eight years old and, at that age, still not much of a reader. But my parents, not big fans of television, bought me the first book, “The Sorcerer’s Stone,” for
Each night my dad would read me a few pages of the book until we flipped to the very last page.
As I became older and my love for reading grew, so too did my excitement and enthusiasm for the series.
I adored the gentle giant Hagrid for his sensitivity and loved every scene that included Snape for his sarcastic and poisonous remarks. “I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even stopper death—if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach,” he said.
As I got older I earned pocket money from occasional babysitting jobs and I would pre-order the books or wait in line at Barnes & Noble for the first release of the next installment with hundreds of other kids.
I didn’t need to research release dates. I knew, as every fan knew simply from merely being sentient during those years.
When I finally signed on to a Facebook page, months before the final book came out, friends would heighten my (and their own) anticipation by counting down the days of the release, and post the number of days on their statuses.
And according to the New York Times, the last book, “Harry Potter & The Deathly Hollows” was the fastest selling book in history, selling more than eleven million copies during the first twenty-four hours—in only three markets.
And now, more than fourteen years after J.K. Rowling’s first book ever, and five years after she completed the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling’s most recent book—and first adult book—will be released in less than two months.
I didn’t learn about this through word of mouth or Facebook.
I learned through stumbling upon it on Goodreads, a website that allows readers to create their own library catalogs, and receive and give book suggestions to others.
I was disappointed, however, when I saw the readers’ comments regarding the new book “The Casual Vacancy.”
Many wrote that “the synopsis seems rather ordinary”, and that “it’s not the type of book I’d ever pick up if it weren’t for J.K. Rowling writing it.”
I understand that the book isn’t part of the Harry Potter Series, but I had expected that, given the popularity of the series, the new novel would generate similar excitement and anticipation.
Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, reviewed statistics from both federal and private sources that show that children read less as they age.
She did not note, however, at which age the decline begins, and if the interest of reading returns later in life.
Speaking for myself, however, I can say that the community of interest I shared in Rowling’s books strengthened by family and friends, will help me retain a love of reading even when Hagrid and Snape are no longer in the picture.