I’m hoping to be done and over with these Harry Potter books soon, so that I can get on with my life. I sat up for 4 hours last night finishing the 5th book, I felt all cracked out afterwards, wishing that I could have just put it down and gone to bed instead of having to keep reading it, but at the same time feeling a king of sinful pleasure in indulging my hunger to consume the narrative of the book all in a couple of gulps.
The narrative of the books really are compelling, they propel the characters and events forward like a suspense movie. All good books do this, although some page turners, such as books by John Grisham or or Michael Crichton or Dan Brown, do this at the expense of quality character development. JK Rowlings pushes the narrative forward at breakneck speed without sacrificing, I feel, any imaginative depth or character evolution. I haven’t sat down and read a book for hours at a time and devoured it like that in a long while. I used to do it nearly every day as a child, wolfing down everything that sat on my bookshelves at home (thanks to having a similarly voraciously bookish older sister) until I had exhausted them, whereupon I then would make weekly excursions to the library and load up on a pile of books.
I’m a snob when it comes to popular culture–when things get too trendy and popular, I stay away from them. But Harry Potter is one of those few popular and trendy things that are healthy for humanity. First of all, in a modern world where we increasingly turn to digital, visual stimuli for entertainment, anything that gets people back into books and reading is a good thing in my opinion. Second of all, the books are actually not only a good, fun pulp read, but they are subtley and gently enlightening as well.
I say the same thing to Dan Brown’s The Davinci Code. Sure, it’s just kind of a romance novel with some scientifical/conspiracy theory stuff thrown into it, but at least it’s getting a wide and broad audience to begin to think critically about the function of the Church and institutionalized religion in their lives. I’ve heard enough propaganda from the Church in my lifetime. I’m quite pleased to hear some opposing stuff, even if it’s fluff, that challenges conventions and beliefs.
As long as people keep reading, than I’m happy.