Monday, July 23, 2007

The Book

Harry Potter PartyOK, yes, I'm enough of a nerd that I did go out on Friday night to get my copy of the new Harry Potter book. It wasn't because I wanted to have one of the first copies (I didn't have mine in hand until almost 2am, so I was way out of the running there) nor was it to be one of the first who read it. Heck, it wasn't even for the various free gifts which went along with the purchase.

For me, the big thing was just the whole spectacle.

The Arborland Borders where we spent our late-night Friday had hundreds, maybe even more than a thousand people crammed in it that evening. I'm reasonably certain that we were breaking a few fire codes. People of all ages were camped out in every book row. The staff even had to mark the path that the books would take from the back room in red tape in order to keep it clear for the big unveiling.

And what an unveiling it was. We had a countdown and at zero, a staff member, wearing a red cloak and a wizard hat and standing on a desk held the book above his head to a rousing cheer from the crowd.

I guess for me this was an amazing bit of history in the making. With the exception of other books in this series, I've never heard of a book generating this kind of excitement. People -- kids and adults -- actually waiting in line to be one of the first to read? Of course, we see this with people who want to be the first to see a movie fairly regularly, but rarely has a book so grabbed the collective attention.

I guess the whole thing saddened me, too, in a way. Really, unless J. K. Rowling decides to pen another volume in the series, I doubt we will ever see such an event again.

Our society just doesn't elevate the written word to those levels. We are buying fewer and fewer books each year, and, according to some estimates, of those books which are sold to individuals, 95% are never read.

I guess all cultural and social structures change over time, but it sure was heartening to see so many people, of all ages, excited about a book.

So, without posting any spoilers, have you read the new Harry Potter book yet? What did you think?


Anonymous said...

The book was great. There were things in there that greatly saddened me (deaths, but we all knew they were coming). There were truly inspiring moments. And one of my theories about Snape was EXACTLY right. J.K. Rowling was brilliant.
Now, it's back to the neglected reality of work (but everyone needs an escape once in awhile!)

Larc said...

I'm about halfway through! Sneaking moments here and there to read (Coral's playing play-doh? Crack open the book!), and it's finally adding up. Defintely enjoying the ride.