Thank you, J.K. Rowling.

Read anything good recently? You don't have to write a review. If it was good, mention it here. If it was rotten, mention it here.

Please include both the name of the book and its author(s) in the title of your posting. Our gratitude for your considerateness will be your reward!

Thank you, J.K. Rowling.

Post by Shelley » Tue Jul 24, 2007 2:51 am

I finished the last leg of the journey in two marathon sessions during this past weekend. Got a headache, but worth it. I laughed, I cried . . . Could not put it down! (In case anyone doesn't know what I'm talking about: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.)

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a radio program (NPR's Studio 360) which featured interviews with Potter fans and a psychologist talking about the end of the Harry Potter series in general and, more specifically, the impact of the possible death of their hero on young readers. The psychologist said it would not necessarily be a bad thing, because children use these fantasy events to "rehearse" their feelings about life's real joys and tragedies.

Among other things, the psychologist (can't remember name) eloquently expressed her sense of awe at being alive during a literary event of historical proportions. I'm with her. To me, it's not so much the record-breaking sales, and midnight lines around the block (although that's all pretty cool): it's the devotion of a generation of kids to a BOOK that is thrilling. The Harry Potter books have inspired millions to become better readers so they can join their classmates in proudly declaring, "I'm on page 547! What page are you on?" The radio program included two 13 year-olds reminiscing on their accomplishment of reading a 750-pager when they were all of 9 or 10!

I imagine the phenomenon to be a lot like living during the era of the first printing press when they started printing copies of the bible in languages that people could understand. People would seek to learn to read in order to be able to read this book that was suddenly available to the general population.

Then, there is the huge service Rowling has done for humanity by educating the next generation of leaders on racism -- what it looks like and sounds like. The books are a great tribute to compassion, equality and fortitude.

Ok, so maybe I'm overstating my case somewhat. Because I've been the mother of a child growing up during these years I've been around the population for which these books have been written (and marketed), and I've enjoyed the ride immensely!
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Thank you, J.K. Rowling.

Post by gdwdwrkr » Wed Jul 25, 2007 7:58 pm

I have seen one of the movies, read none of the books, raised two children in the meantime, and found the movie to be an incredibly boring list of one damn thing after the other.
J.K.Rowling is right up there with your pigeons to me.
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Jul 25, 2007 8:26 pm

The statement that most caught my eye there was "I have... read none of the books."
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Thank you, J.K. Rowling.

Post by tony h » Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:11 am

on discovering my nickname at work was Dumbledore I was committed to reading a couple of books to find out the implications. Although I found the nickname quite complementary I could not find a liking for the books. But there again I do not generally find novels to be of interest. I find language interesting, and if interesting language is used to tell a good story then I enjoy the book.

I do appreciate that in this I am odd. I do appreciate the JKR has encouraged people to pick a book and read. For that - along with jeffry Archer, Agatha Christie and others - I appreciate and applaud her talent.
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I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Thank you, J.K. Rowling.

Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:31 am

That one read must not be an issue. What one reads must be.
When children grow in a home where reading (and being read-to)
is just what-you-do, there is nothing remarkable about reading
and loving it.
I'm glad Shelley appreciates reading Rowling, though the headache
is no surprise. I certainly have thumbed through the books.
One method of evaluation I used in helping my kids choose:
make a flip-book of the pages, center the focus in
the middle of the page, and perceive one word per page as it flips by.
This way I got a random sampling of the vocabulary of the book, and
I found that a more in-depth look at the book proved that the method
was quite accurate.
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Thank you, J.K. Rowling.

Post by Tony Farg » Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:23 am

TonyH...surely not Jeffrey Archer....."interesting language is used"....?
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Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:25 am

Never read him either, though short story "Just Good Friends"
looks like it might be good, as its twist-end has it written
by a cat.
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Post by tony h » Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:44 pm

Tony,

I am happy to try an author, I would not expect to read again any of the authors I listed.
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I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Thank you, J.K. Rowling.

Post by Shelley » Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:18 pm

gdwdwrkr wrote: That one read must not be an issue. What one reads must be.
Years ago, when I voluteered in an elementary school library I noticed the collection, which was largely donated, had a lot of books based on children's TV shows and movies (Disney, Sesame Street, etc.) I wanted to weed them from the shelves, because I thought they were less than "quality" reading, and asked the librarian about it. In the early years, she said, what the children were reading was less important than the fact that they were reading. Whatever motivated them to engage in the activity of reading was acceptable: familiar characters, settings, prizes, pop-ups. Of course, as more money was available, the library would replace the commercial products with award-winning children's literature. Her point is good, though, and applies to the Harry Potter phenomenon.

One of my colleagues here has observed that the language in this final HP tome is more sophisticated and challenging. No surprise, as those young readers who started out with Harry at age 11 have themselves grown up and are more sophisticated and challenging! I believe this development of the language is intentional, but who knows.

It's true that enjoyment of the Harry Potter books is enhanced by neglecting to take your grown-up pills for a couple of weeks. The enjoyment of the movies is enhanced by reading the books. It's marketing genius, without a doubt, but it started with A BOOK. Not a TV show, or a Theme Park ride, or a candy bar and that's great.

Tony H: Dumbledore, no kidding? Quite an honor, depending upon who is doing the nicknaming.
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Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri Jul 27, 2007 9:27 am

I agree that the attitude and the approach differ between
home and school. While I chose to take my children to our
University "Lab" school (to which all the kids in my neighborhood
had been bussed a generation before), I decided at the outset
that if there was anything I wanted them to learn, I
would not leave it to the school, but would teach them myself.
That included how to choose reading material and critical thought.
They understood that playing outside with sticks and stones was
superior to reading some stuff.
While getting one out of the book, and outside, was equal to
getting the other to come in from the pond for a nap, neither ever
resisted being read-to, or reading. I remember these kids lifting
head away from the breast to cast an expressive glance my way
while being read-to.
I guess that is most important of all....the rest takes care of
itself.
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Post by Shelley » Fri Jul 27, 2007 3:36 pm

Amen.

Reading to a child (and being read to as a child) are two of life's great warms. Besides being fun, it's pretty much proven that reading to your kids is one of the most important contributions you can make to their skills and academic development later on. (Thank goodness this is not on one of the Word forums -- I'd have to quote some source!) I have a friend who recently told me that she listens to books on tape while falling asleep, because it conjures the feeling of being read to as a child.
I don't fault the school system for relying on whatever it takes to spark a student's interest in reading. Many children aren't gifted with parents who are inclined to read to them, and if the hullabaloo over Harry Potter is the catalyst that gets them to jump on the bandwagon and READ A BOOK, then that's all good.

Now, the tough part is convincing them that there are other really good books out there, too!
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Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri Jul 27, 2007 3:41 pm

Shelley wrote: Amen.



Now, the other tough part is convincing them that there really are good books out there, too!
We agree. I just couldn't help messing with the quote.
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Post by Wizard of Oz » Sun Jul 29, 2007 6:40 am

.. my disappointment ?? .. in Aus the RRP of the final book was $49.99 .. fifty bloody buckaroonies !!! .. we get told that the lady is a billionaire so like she needs money ?? .. at cost to cover the printing may have been a nice way to say thank-you to all those readers who have given Madam a very nice lifestyle and who will continue to do so for many years .. many of the children I am aware of need the inspiration but their parents are never likely to spend that much money on a book .. and don't get me started on the ONE copy in the local library with a 2 week borrow time ..

WoZ of Aus 29/07/07
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Post by gdwdwrkr » Sun Jul 29, 2007 10:48 am

To further Shelley's original parallel with that other bestseller,
while one is overpriced in greed, the other is often given away. Parallel,
yes, but travelling in opposite directions.
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Post by Shelley » Sun Jul 29, 2007 1:31 pm

Although I understand that way back then (Gutenberg times) only the very rich could afford to own a copy of the bible (or any other books for that matter). They were very expensive and time-consuming to produce, and relatively scarce. It got better.

WoZ, that price is horrible! Here it's ranging from 21.00 to 35.00, and generally is being sold at a marked discount. Amazon.com quotes the list price at 34.99, but is selling it at 17.00. You can get Deathly Hallows and Half-Blood Prince together for 27.00 and change. Do they have Amazon in Australia? (No, silly, it's in South America!) I really don't get the disparity. There must be a reason.
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