Sunday, 24 September 2017

Re-Reading the Harry Potter Books

I've just finished re-reading the Harry Potter books, and I found them even more wonderful than I remembered. It took me several months, as I don't get much time to read these days, but even still, I was more than a little sad when it was over. It was like a friend was staying with me, and then they left. I thought I'd write this post as a little tribute to my re-reading, and to remind myself of why it's important to read the book as well as watch the film. These are things I've noticed in the books which are different or downplayed in the movies, which really bring them to life so much more.

* Ron is really useful ... when Harry, Hermione and Ron are caught by the Devil's Snare in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, it's Ron who has to remind Hermione that she can use magical fire to defeat it. He stands up for Hermione on several occasions -- even to Professor Snape when he calls her an insufferable know-it-all in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He shows bravery and intelligence that the movies don't reflect.

* The Weasleys swear ... a lot. Obviously the movies can't depict a character swearing, and the books can't use specific words, but quite often the text will say: "Ron swore...". The brothers also get up to more teasing and practical jokes on each other, and there are a lot of family in-jokes. There's such a beautiful sense of how close the family are.

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* Ginny is awesome ... Sure, Ginny is awesome in the movies, but she's even more so in the books. This comes out in the Quidditch matches, which are covered in the later books but dropped almost entirely from the movies (presumably due to time constraints). In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Ginny easily makes it onto the Gryffindor Quidditch team as a Chaser. When Harry is ill, she fills in for him as Seeker and catches the snitch which wins the House Cup. In the books too, we see a lot more of Ginny and how her experience in the Chamber of Secrets affected her. She feels guilt for what she did to her fellow students, and worries that she might become possessed again.

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* Hermione is really good at giving gifts ... the most memorable one being the broom maintenance kit she gives to Harry, which the book mentions him using several times. Hermione might seem like the kind of person who gives people gifts "for their own good" rather than what they would really like, but this isn't the case. (Well, except for the talking planners she gives Harry and Ron in their O.W.L. year!) I think this shows her as a caring friend and makes her a richer character. I have to admit, I'm a little bit envious of this ability.

* Luna is smarter than she seems ... There's an inkling of this in the movies when Luna give Harry advice about how to deal with Voldemort's mind games. It comes out more in the books, though. At Bill and Fleur's wedding, Harry is disguised for his own protection. He uses Polyjuice Potion to transform into a random muggle boy from the nearby village and passes himself off as a distant cousin of the Weasleys. Luna, however, sees through this disguise at once, recognising Harry from the way he moves. This shows that Luna has the ability to see past the obvious and trust her own ability to make connections where others can't.

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* Harry is quite smart ... It's difficult for movies to show the thought processes of characters, without going into annoying internal monologues, so we don't really get to see how Harry thinks. There are several occasions in the books though, where he thinks something over and comes to a smart conclusion. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he sits down and thinks about how to find the Diadem of Ravenclaw, and realises that he can talk to the Grey Lady. In the movie, Luna tells him this information. As angry as Harry is that Dumbledore didn't give him all the information he needed before he died, Dumbledore trusted him to come up with the answers on his own, and he did.

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* Magic is hard work ... The first few movies are sprinkled with comedic moments where a student casts a spell and it ends up blowing up in their face or turning into a furry teacup. In the later movies, there isn't room to depict the ongoing struggle to learn magic. Even students like Draco Malfoy or the Weasleys, who have been immersed in magic their whole lives, find it a struggle to learn to perform magic effectively. The students in Harry's year had an education in Defense Against the Darks Arts that is patchy at best, and they had to work very hard to catch up. Even when a student does learn to cast a spell, being able to control it is a different matter. When Crabbe uses the Fiendfyre spell in the Room of Requirement, it burns out of control with fatal consequences.

There's so much more to the Harry Potter books that I can't even begin to cover in a blog post. I'd like to re-read them once a year ideally, even if it does take 5 months!


  1. I think these are really great observations! I do really like Ginny, she is so underrated (probably because she's the most "normal" out of all the main characters) :/

    1. The more I read the books, the more I liked Ginny too. I think she's so straightforward because she grew up with 6 older brothers: that would have a big effect on your personality!