Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

Now we’re getting into the Harry Potter books I’ve only read once. During this relisten, I occasionally—and briefly—feel like I might not have liked Harry Potter as much as I do had I not been part of the Harry Potter generation. (Incidentally, way cooler title for us than Millennials, which, admittedly, is pretty cool.) And then Hermione does something awesome or Neville breaks my heart, and I realize I probably would have made it over to them eventually, even if the worldbuilding would give me more pause in this hypothetical parallel universe where I would have to be just a wee lass now. Okay, that analogy broke down, but I think you understand me.

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Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

As I mentioned in my review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is, in fact, my favorite novel out of the entire series. It’s the novel where the rest of the series is set up, it’s the novel where these adorable British children become teenagers, and it’s the novel that opens the worldbuilding up… even while bringing up questions about that worldbuilding. It was also the Harry Potter book that introduced midnight book releases into the world, for which I am eternally grateful. I myself was nine when I attended this very book release. I still have that copy… the spine is broken, but I still have it.

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Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

For a while, I thought my favorite Harry Potter book was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I say “thought” because, as a wee lass, I was very interested by the Marauders and Sirius and Lupin in particular. (Very interested. It wasn’t my first ship, but it was pretty close…) But during this rereading (relistening?) to the series, I’ve concluded that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my favorite, for reasons I will go into in that audiobook’s review. But although it’s been dethroned (which is a good thing, since an ex-friend of mine still has my copy), I think it might be my favorite of the first three.

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The Sunday Salon: Fictional Food

I have recently discovered a love of cooking. I mean, I’ve always liked baking—as a little kid, hanging out at Clare’s basically meant making cookies with Clare from the prepackaged dough you can buy at the store. My adult love of cooking really started when I looked at a box of pancake mix and realized that it didn’t ask for eggs. The idea of dehydrated eggs grossed me out, so I began making my pancakes from scratch. But it’s been absolutely encouraged by a recent fannish food blog, which I’d like to highlight as we recover from Turkey Day 2011.

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Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

The first three Harry Potter books and the last four are very different from each other; books one through three focus on mysteries, while the other four focus on the rise of Voldemort and Harry’s struggle against him. They’re also aimed at younger children—essentially, however old Harry and company are is the target age for the reader. (As I’ve said before, I feel ridiculously lucky to have been, more or less, in that range while the books were coming out; Lord knows I would haven’t the willpower to savor the experience were I a child now. And we’re all better off that I’m an actual human being now.) Of the first three, Chamber of Secrets was never my favorite—Sorcerer’s Stone got us into this world and Prisoner of Azkaban introduced us to the first generation that I’m so fond of, so I often just ignored it. I had trouble motivating myself to listen, but it turned out alright in the end.

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Reading by Ear: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
read by Jim Dale

As I’ve mentioned, the audiobooks I listen to are rereads for various reasons—I’m not an aural learner and it allows me to reread books without sacrificing precious reading time, since I’m usually listening while I’m walking to class, walking the dog, or working out. (But not while I’m running; I need enough Spice Girls and Britney Spears to choke a horse to manage a run.) Since I started this blog at the tender age of eighteen and haven’t listened to the audiobook of anything I’ve reviewed for this blog (…yet!), a lot of my rereads tend to be fantasy series. Which leads us to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Before the release of the final Warner Brothers film, I was feeling a bit alienated from the series everyone of my generation was reared on, so I decided to reconnect… and it worked.

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The Sunday Salon: Fun with Search Terms

I’ve never mentioned it, but I absolutely love poking at my site stats. How people get to my blog (I’m apparently linked on my college’s website! This is completely new information to me!), which posts people read the most (my review of the film adaptation of Atonement and my review of A Clash of Kings), and, of course, the search terms that lead people to my blog. There are many paths to my establishment, it seems, and several of them are paths trod by very confused people. Today, then, I will help these poor souls by answering their search terms, as culled from search terms that led actual people to my blog this September.
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BBAW 2011: Community Part II

The world of book blogging has grown enormously and sometimes it can be hard to find a place. Share your tips for finding and keeping community in book blogging despite the hectic demands made on your time and the overwhelming number of blogs out there. If you’re struggling with finding a community, share your concerns and explain what you’re looking for–this is the week to connect!

I think maintaining community in the world of book blogging comes down to one thing—participation. I only follow book blogs that I actively read, and I do my best to add meaningful comments to posts. “I read this book too!” comments are nice and all, but discussion—the lifeblood of bookish communities—doesn’t grow from that. (Oh, man, did I ever tell y’all about the time I was talking about Malinda Lo’s Ash in class, making a point about the nebulous and marketing-based divide between young adult fiction and adult fiction, and a girl just went “Oh, I read that book!” very loudly—to me—while I was talking to the entire class? That’s not discussion, that’s an interruption.) Personally, I use co.mments to track responses to my comments, wherever I leave them, which allows me to pick up the discussion more. And discussion makes the world go round, builds better relationships between people, so on and so forth. I also recommend Twitter, if you don’t already use it, to talk with your fellow book bloggers—I know Cass makes me crack up on a nearly weekly basis when we have conversations.

But I will admit that I would love to meet and follow more book bloggers that come from fandom. (Incidentally, They Came from Fandom is my next science fiction film.) I try and keep my fandom life and real life very separate, so I never have to worry about what I say, but being a fan is still a very large part of who I am and fandom was what first trained me to look critically at texts, especially back during the first wave of Harry Potter fandom. The fannish view towards texts encourages interacting with, criticizing, and even changing the text, even as you love the text; after the release of 2009’s Star Trek, fanfiction and other fan media began cropping up examining the true consequences of a supposedly diverse world where white American men are still mostly in power or at least the most visible. The Book Smugglers approached this sort of viewpoint when reviewing Sisters Red, whose abominable victim-blaming I used in a paper last year. Obviously, thinking critically about texts is common (or should be common!) among book bloggers, but I would really love to meet some more fellow fannish book bloggers.

Booking Through Thursday: Night Owl

What’s the latest you’ve ever stayed up reading a book? Is staying up late reading a usual thing for you?

I try not to stay up late reading—I’m one of those people who needs her eight hours of sleep, otherwise I become irritable and generally unpleasant. Since I usually carve out some time to read before bed, I rarely do, but it has happened—I couldn’t put down Jacqueline Carey’s The Sundering until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.

But the latest I’ve ever stayed up reading a book would go to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I received my book at midnight, went home, settled into the guest bedroom (far from everyone else), and read for eight hours straight. I went to bed around eight-thirty in the morning, and I don’t recall how long it took me to recover from it.

The Sunday Salon: Endgame

I can’t watch procedurals any more. I stopped watching House not only because they killed off my favorite supporting character for little to no reason, but because I was watching a forty-four minute show for about ten minutes of character development. The Case of the Week formula was starting to feel like Chinese water torture, to be totally honest. Even Numb3rs, which boasts forty-four minutes of looking at David Krumholtz, couldn’t hold my attention. (That, and the fandom is weird. Like, Supernatural weird.) It just boils down to the fact that I can no longer take anything—television show or book—that doesn’t have an endgame in mind. It’s like life, in a way—without an end, it has little to no meaning. Or at least that’s what I think.

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