Harry Potter

This is part of a bunch of collection-posts for books I read before starting to write reviews for them, instead writing down whatever I remember about them.

This post is for an obscure series of books known as the Harry Potter series. I’ve read them several times, but not since I started doing reviews. So this post is pretty much a placeholder to contain my ratings, and scattered thoughts on the books.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's StoneHarry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: June 30, 1997
Pages: 223
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Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy - until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason ... HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!

I remember being gifted the first two Harry Potter books not too long after the second one was published. I presume that I had them read to me, or that I read them along with my parents. I can’t remember much of my impressions of the first book, but I remember enjoying the tasks toward the end more than the rest of it. It’s been a long time since I re-read it, but I imagine I’d still like it today, for nostalgic reasons if nothing else.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #2
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: July 2, 1998
Pages: 251
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Harry Potter is a wizard. He is in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Little does he know that this year will be just as eventful as the last...

I remember less of my initial thoughts on Chamber of Secrets than I do for Philosophers Stone. The part I remember reading, and really liking, was the car-scene at the start. There was something quite exciting about that. I also recall thinking the anagram-thing was quite clever, and a bit of a mind-blower. In any case, I do remember liking the book.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #3
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: August 8, 1999
Pages: 317
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Harry Potter, along with his best friends, Ron and Hermione, is about to start his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry can't wait to get back to school after the summer holidays. (Who wouldn't if they lived with the horrible Dursleys?) But when Harry gets to Hogwarts, the atmosphere is tense. There's an escaped mass murderer on the loose, and the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been called in to guard the school...

I didn’t like Azkaban quite as much as the others at the time. I can’t remember why exactly, but it’s possible that the divergence from the relatively simple formula of the others (i.e. “we’re at Hogwarts, and the story takes place here”) bothered me. I seem to recall liking it a little better upon re-reading it, but as three and a half stars is what I’ve noted down as my rating of it, that will have to stand until I get around to re-reading the series and writing up proper reviews of them.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #4
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: August 6, 2000
Pages: 636
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It is the summer holidays and soon Harry Potter will be starting his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is counting the days: there are new spells to be learnt, more Quidditch to be played, and Hogwarts castle to continue exploring. But Harry needs to be careful - there are unexpected dangers lurking...

Goblet of Fire is the first of the Harry Potter books I can vividly remember buying and reading. I was visiting my grandparents in Scotland at the time, and I remember that we went to downtown Dundee on the day the book was released to buy it. The bookstore we visited had the book displayed pretty much across the entire store, though I remember being a bit surprised at the lack of the people in the shop – wasn’t everyone out to buy the new book?

I read the book during the next few days and nights, and I think the experience was enhanced by knowing that I was reading this in the days after the release of it, along with the rest of the world.


Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #5
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: July 10, 2004
Pages: 765
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After the Dementors’ attack on his cousin Dudley, Harry knows he is about to become Voldemort’s next target.
Although many are denying the Dark Lord’s return, Harry is not alone, and a secret order is gathering at Grimmauld Place to fight against the Dark forces.
Meanwhile, Voldemort’s savage assaults on Harry’s mind are growing stronger every day.
He must allow Professor Snape to teach him to protect himself before he runs out of time.

For Order of the Phoenix I lined up outside the store. Not at one of those fancy midnight-releases, but the bookstore in the Nearby shopping centre was opening early, at 7am or something on a Saturday, to allow me and the couple of other people who had turned out to somewhat awkwardly get in and buy this book. After buying it I started reading it there and then, moving to the cafe at the shopping centre when it opened, and I think I sat there all day and read through the book. Despite not remembering the details of the day, I think back on it as being a wonderful day.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #6
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: July 16, 2005
Pages: 607
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It is the middle of the summer, but there is an unseasonal mist pressing against the windowpanes. Harry Potter is waiting nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys' house in Privet Drive for a visit from Professor Dumbledore himself. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce one-to-one duel with Lord Voldemort, and Harry can't quite believe that Professor Dumbledore will actually appear at the Dursleys' of all places. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts in a few weeks' time? Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts has already got off to an unusual start, as the worlds of Muggle and magic start to intertwine...

For Half Blood Prince I went to the same shopping centre, this time buying two copies, the regular edition and the adult edition, so that my mother and I could read the book at the same time. I reprised my “sitting at the cafe” reading for the first part of the book, but went home later in the day to read the rest. I don’t think I quite finished the book on the day of release, leaving some for the next day.

For Half Blood Prince I foolishly went on the internet right before cycling to the shopping centre, and saw “the” spoiler that was floating around for this book. I was annoyed at that, but reading it with the spoiler in mind actually gave me a perspective on the book which was quite interesting, as I kept trying to read into everything that was happening with the spoiler in mind. I really enjoyed it.


Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #7
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: July 21, 2007
Pages: 607
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Harry has been burdened with a dark, dangerous and seemingly impossible task: that of locating and destroying Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes. Never has Harry felt so alone, or faced a future so full of shadows. But Harry must somehow find within himself the strength to complete the task he has been given. He must leave the warmth, safety and companionship of The Burrow and follow without fear or hesitation the inexorable path laid out for him.

And finally, the conclusion. And I remember it well. For the Deathly Hallows the entire book leaked on the internet several days before the release. I was at my grandparents house at the time, and did something which was rather unprecedented for me at the time: I cut myself off from the internet entirely. For about four days prior to the release of the book I didn’t go on the internet at all.

Having bought the book, again at a local shopping centre, I wanted it to last longer than a day this time. After all, it was the last book in the series. As I was on holiday with my grandparents, still off the internet, I decided to read this book in increments: the first day I read the first 100 pages, the second day I re-read the first 100 pages, and another 100 pages, the third day I started from the beginning and made it to page 300, and so on. I kept that up for a week until I finished the book on day six. I’m really glad I did it that way.


So that sums up my memories of the Harry Potter books. One day I will have to re-read them properly, though I’m almost a little afraid that I won’t like them as much now.

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