Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate it—but it’s also the last Sunday of the year, which means it’s time for my top ten list. As usual, these are my top reads of 2011, not the top published books of 2011. But I’ve also added my favorite film adaptation and my favorite audiobook of the year, since I’ve started really keeping those posts up. I was lucky enough to have a good handful of five star books, but that meant leaving off a lot of four and a half star books that I honestly loved off the list. I invite you to rifle through those categories to your right. And here’s 2010 in review and 2009 in review, if you’re so inclined. I think that’s all the housekeeping, so let’s get started.
Harry, a History by Melissa Anelli
I have a confession to make. Just as I did in middle school and high school with the Harry Potter novels themselves, I stayed up late to polish off Harry, a History. I drifted from the fandom pretty much immediately after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but reading this brought everything flooding back—the theories, the discussions, the jokes… the memories of a hearty fandom. I can’t believe that I found this in the bargain bin at Books-a-Million—for shame, Books-a-Million, for shame! This is a thing of beauty.
Much like how many people falsely assume Belle is my favorite Disney princess (it’s Jasmine today), they also tend to assume that my Harry Potter House allegiance is to Ravenclaw—but I’m a Hufflepuff. (We’re into hugs and kicking butt.) It’s actually kind of staggering that this sort of reference works not only in fan culture but in the mainstream, especially as fewer and fewer texts are taken to heart by such large swathes of people. Today, we’re going to look at two manifestations of the fan culture around Harry Potter—a collection of fan scholarship and a history of the fandom itself.