Wednesday, August 19, 2009


(I saw the title of this post on a bumper sticker this week. I kind of want one.)

As you’ll have read from my last post, I just started reading the Harry Potter books. Now plowing my way through the fifth book, I’m getting around to that blog post I promised on why a (practically) grown woman is reading the series for the first time. I also figured out how to read and knit at the same time. Hardbound books may be cumbersome in a knitting bag, but they stay open better than paperbacks.

When the Harry Potter books started coming out, I was a teenager, just starting to get really serious about being a Christian. I think somewhere before then, I’d given my “testimony” which involved turning from a wanna-be witch into a God-following Christian. As 10 and 11 year olds, my best friend and I had made up a book of curses and spells to put on people that treated us like weirdos (believe me, it didn’t help). I read all the books that The Dalles Library had on witchcraft, mostly juvenile fiction ones that involved wanna-be witches like myself. And I continued to do this until a Christian friend told me “You know that’s against God, right?” So I “put the darkness behind me” and got rid of my stuff.

Enter J.K. Rowling. My school librarian was really excited about Harry Potter because kids were actually reading them. But Jesus told me not to. “That’s not stuff to mess around with!” I insisted. I steered clear of the books because people told me that the author used verses from the Satanic Bible in the spells. I was terrified that I would be led into temptation and want to be a witch again.
After a while, I stopped caring so much about the peril of my soul and just never bothered to read them. I learned to be terrified of other things, like someone from my Christian co-op seeing me linger too long at the Pride Day celebration and asking me to leave the house. Because, you know, Jesus says no.

It’s only recently that I started to laugh at all I bought into because other people said that Jesus said things were bad. I missed out on all the great Harry Potter parties at bookstores! I missed out on all the drag shows! I started reading “Dungeons and Dragons for Dummies” and bemoaned all the fun and imagination I could have maintained in high school if I hadn’t been scared away from “evil” things like D&D. I started doing yoga, which was amazing and relaxing. And I found that Harry Potter books are very moral. There’s good, and there’s bad, and it’s clear that you want to be on the good side. And you know what? Jesus doesn’t seem to care.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Project 50: July (in which Hannah reads Harry Potter for the first time!)

“Born on a Blue Day” by David Tammet
David Tammet is a man with Asperger’s and Savant Syndromes with a thing for numbers and languages. I don’t have such a thing for numbers or languages, which is why I’m glad that Tammet uses this book to really give a picture of the way he experiences and processes the information that makes it possible for him to access it, like memorizing pi to 20,000 some places by visualizing a picture of waves and colors. There are pictures in the book that help. I think that this book more than others I’ve read by people on the autism spectrum helped me understand the way he experiences the world. He sometimes jumps around to what seem like completely unrelated topics, which gets confusing, but I do the same thing when I’m talking, so there you go. A-

“The Anglo Files” by Sarah Lyall
Even though this book was funny, it was kind of a downer. Sarah Lyall is an American reporter who married a British man and moved to London, and maybe in a moment of homesickness she set out to expose all that is wrong with the British with a few quaint things thrown in. Her chapter on the misinformed and stunted sexuality of British men and women her own age and older is kind of frightening to me, because I prefer the way we mostly have information out in the open in the US. The caveman sexuality and immaturity of British Parliament doesn’t make me fall in love either. I think she spends a little too much time digging back in time to find examples of British people behaving badly to prove her point, but I think that comes with her being a reporter. B+

“Cuckoo” by Madison Clell

This is the graphic novel autobiography of a woman with disassociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personalities. Madison had been sexually abused by various people in her youth, and to escape the mental, she would disassociate and “create” another person who would take her place during the abuse. When she became an adult, these “alters” started to pop to the surface because of flashbacks. I think that the graphic novel format of the book really works for her story, because the facial expressions, depictions of her alters, changes in font give the feel of what happened much more than a square paragraph would be able to communicate. A

“The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul” by Douglas Adams
This story starts off pretty good, but after a while, I was wondering why I was continuing to read it, because it really wasn’t all that interesting. Sure there were a couple of gods bouncing around and making mischief, but I’m not really sure what the point was. Everything got wrapped up at the end, but I couldn’t tell you exactly how it ended, because it was that forgettable. C’mon Douglas Adams, I know you can do better! C+

“Tunnel Vision” by Keith Lowe
I think that this book could be made into a pretty good movie, maybe a romantic comedy or something. It has all the makings: weird friend, cranky fiance who doesn’t like weird friend, man who makes stupid bet with weird friend while drunk. The bet happens to be that Andy, who is obsessed with the London Underground, must make it to every stop on the tube in one day. The day is the one before his wedding, and he bets the train ticket that would take him to his wedding in Paris. It’s a pretty intense day, with heart stopping delays and suspicion of fellow passengers who could be spies. I enjoyed the whole thing, except how much Andy’s fiancĂ© hated the London Underground. That was a little bit too fierce for me to be convinced that she actually wanted to marry him. A

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
I’m cooking up a good blog post in my head about why I haven’t read Harry Potter until now. But I’m really kicking myself for not reading it earlier, because I could have gotten in on some KILLER parties. I’ve never heard of any other fans getting dressed up and going to a BOOKSTORE for a midnight party. I think the best way that I can describe the book is “delightful.” I only give A+’s to books with amazing language, so this one was a bit too simple for that, as a kids' book, but it had a really great plot and plenty of intrigue to keep me reading. I finished it in two days. Some make-believe writers will plug in a lot of jargon that you’re supposed to figure out along the way, but since Harry had lived his life so far with no knowledge of magic, the reader learns at the same pace that he does. A

“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Miserable Mill” by Lemony Snickett

This one was a bit more intense than the others because it involved some pretty close up mortal danger. Also, hypnotism. Fun. I thought the new vocabulary in this book was top notch and a bit more clever than in the others. B