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ConnieAnnKirk
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What's So Great About Harry Potter?

[ Edited ]
According to press reports, the Harry Potter books have now sold over 350 million copies worldwide. In the US, Scholastic has already ordered another 2 million copies in a second print run after the millions already sold on July 21st. In these weeks after the release of the final novel, many readers, teachers, librarians, book publishers, scholars and others are beginning the process of looking back at the Harry Potter series in an effort to understand and make sense of what happened with these books over the last 10 years.

Why were the Harry Potter books so popular? What kind of nerve did they strike in readers at this time and place in history? Will they last? Is the writing that good, or was the immense popularity of the books more the result of new electronic marketing campaigns, the Internet, and globalization? What factor did fan websites and discussion forums play in the steady interest in the series? What effect did the movies play in keeping interest in the books alive? Were people looking for an escape from too many "reality" TV shows? Princess Diana died in 1997--did that tragedy and the mood it placed over many people in Britain have an effect on the British reading public when the first book in this fantasy series came out the same year? Was there anxiety over Y2K that the series helped relieve? What about providing an escape after Sept. 11, 2001 (the first Harry Potter film debuted in the US in November, 2001). What were readers searching for that they found in the Harry Potter books? What role did Rowling's personal story play in attracting people's interest in the books, if any?

There are many big questions to ponder in relation to the Harry Potter books and the phenomenon they caused in publishing and popular culture.

What do you think? What is so great, after all, about Harry Potter? Why is it so popular with so many people? Many of you have told us what it means to you personally, but what do you think it means in the bigger picture? Any ideas?

Message Edited by ConnieK on 08-07-2007 11:49 AM
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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dayrenm
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?



ConnieK wrote:
According to press reports, the Harry Potter books have now sold over 350 million copies worldwide. In the US, Scholastic has already ordered another 2 million copies in a second print run after the millions already sold on July 21st. In these weeks after the release of the final novel, many readers, teachers, librarians, book publishers, scholars and others are beginning the process of looking back at the Harry Potter series in an effort to understand and make sense of what happened with these books over the last 10 years.

Why were the Harry Potter books so popular? What kind of nerve did they strike in readers at this time and place in history? Will they last? Is the writing that good, or was the immense popularity of the books more the result of new electronic marketing campaigns, the Internet, and globalization? What factor did fan websites and discussion forums play in the steady interest in the series? What effect did the movies play in keeping interest in the books alive? Were people looking for an escape from too many "reality" TV shows? Princess Diana died in 1997--did that tragedy and the mood it placed over many people in Britain have an effect on the British reading public when the first book in this fantasy series came out the same year? Was there anxiety over Y2K that the series helped relieve? What about providing an escape after Sept. 11, 2001 (the first Harry Potter film debuted in the US in November, 2001). What were readers searching for that they found in the Harry Potter books? What role did Rowling's personal story play in attracting people's interest in the books, if any?

There are many big questions to ponder in relation to the Harry Potter books and the phenomenon they caused in publishing and popular culture.

What do you think? What is so great, after all, about Harry Potter? Why is it so popular with so many people? Many of you have told us what it means to you personally, but what do you think it means in the bigger picture? Any ideas?

Message Edited by ConnieK on 08-07-2007 11:49 AM






Great question Connie. I am a school teacher myself, and the kids at school love the Harry Potter series. I think that all said and done JKR has brought a style of writing that many were longing for. I have read many books andthe kids at school will agree, but none have brought me into the book like JK did. Her style of writing took me into the Hogwarts and Harry's world. As I read the books it seemed that nothing else existed but that world. I think to many it was an escape of the real world, we all need that once in a while.
LONG LIVE HARRY POTTER!!
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iheartbooks
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

You know, I always ask myself that. What is it about Harry Potter that attracts me so much? I wouldn't consider myself a big fantasy person, so why? Why does Harry Potter draw me in like a huge magnet? The only explanation that I can think of is that the SS was the first book that i truly read and enjoyed. It was the book that made me become such an avid reader. So, when i go back to read Harry Potter, it's almost like going back in time. I think this is the case for many people (mostly adults). Harry Potter is more than just a book to them, it's almost a time machine. One that they can use to go back into the fantasy world of their childhood.

This is my guess, but i wouldn't know, I'm only 13 (: lol.



ConnieK wrote:
According to press reports, the Harry Potter books have now sold over 350 million copies worldwide. In the US, Scholastic has already ordered another 2 million copies in a second print run after the millions already sold on July 21st. In these weeks after the release of the final novel, many readers, teachers, librarians, book publishers, scholars and others are beginning the process of looking back at the Harry Potter series in an effort to understand and make sense of what happened with these books over the last 10 years.

Why were the Harry Potter books so popular? What kind of nerve did they strike in readers at this time and place in history? Will they last? Is the writing that good, or was the immense popularity of the books more the result of new electronic marketing campaigns, the Internet, and globalization? What factor did fan websites and discussion forums play in the steady interest in the series? What effect did the movies play in keeping interest in the books alive? Were people looking for an escape from too many "reality" TV shows? Princess Diana died in 1997--did that tragedy and the mood it placed over many people in Britain have an effect on the British reading public when the first book in this fantasy series came out the same year? Was there anxiety over Y2K that the series helped relieve? What about providing an escape after Sept. 11, 2001 (the first Harry Potter film debuted in the US in November, 2001). What were readers searching for that they found in the Harry Potter books? What role did Rowling's personal story play in attracting people's interest in the books, if any?

There are many big questions to ponder in relation to the Harry Potter books and the phenomenon they caused in publishing and popular culture.

What do you think? What is so great, after all, about Harry Potter? Why is it so popular with so many people? Many of you have told us what it means to you personally, but what do you think it means in the bigger picture? Any ideas?

Message Edited by ConnieK on 08-07-2007 11:49 AM


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hihi
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

For me, I fell like it can make a connection with anybody, because we all at one point in time were kids. And not only were we just kids, but we were kids that at least once felt like we needed unity, and friendship, and had something to fight for. I feel like the HP series was so great, because of the adventure and the magic. It was kinda like we all were like Harry, because no one had heard of Hogwarts, or Voldemort, or Diagon Alley, etc. And, the writing technique that JKR has shown is so great that it pulled so many people from so many different places and so many different cultures to a world of mystery, and fun. Also (this is it I promise :smileyhappy: ) there was no small character in that world. Everyone did something to help the storyline, good or bad. It showed that everyone is special, whether your an orphaned wizard who was famous, a young witch who was born different yet is better than any other, a poor boy who had the will of many, or even a boy with a horrible memory, but stood up countless times when faced with danger.
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sparklerhlr
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

I think it's a "it could happen to you" kind of story. and it's even better with the fantastical element thrown in.
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Mollywobbles
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

All interesting questions Connie. In my opinion, the electronic media, campaigns etc. contributed to the success of the later books, but what made the first say two books, from a virtually unknown author, so popular?

I believe that it was the rich detail in the books which attracted me. From the outset in SS, we were presented with a completely different world, and because of the detail, could almost believe it actually existed. Everything from the descriptions of the food at the start of term feast to the layout of the Castle was included. And yet, the characters were not Superheros-they didn't transform into machines, or leap tall buildings in a single bound-they were kids who worried about pimples and dating. The fact that they had magical abilities didn't make them "special" in the world of Hogwarts, they had individual strengths, weaknesses and foibles.

Perhaps, because of the worries in the world, the time was simply right for a bit of escapism. Certainly the films of the Ring Trilogy experienced considerable popularity in the same time frame, but the books had been around for ages. I don't think there was the same sense of evolution-of growing up with the characters-as was experienced with the HP novels.

As to whether the books will endure-yes, I think they will. There are people of all ages who have fallen in love with these books, and that love will be passed on to successive generations. I doubt the films will fare as well-again because I think they lack the detail that is present in the books-and because other films with more gimmicks will supplant them. The books have a timeless quality.



ConnieK wrote:
According to press reports, the Harry Potter books have now sold over 350 million copies worldwide. In the US, Scholastic has already ordered another 2 million copies in a second print run after the millions already sold on July 21st. In these weeks after the release of the final novel, many readers, teachers, librarians, book publishers, scholars and others are beginning the process of looking back at the Harry Potter series in an effort to understand and make sense of what happened with these books over the last 10 years.

Why were the Harry Potter books so popular? What kind of nerve did they strike in readers at this time and place in history? Will they last? Is the writing that good, or was the immense popularity of the books more the result of new electronic marketing campaigns, the Internet, and globalization? What factor did fan websites and discussion forums play in the steady interest in the series? What effect did the movies play in keeping interest in the books alive? Were people looking for an escape from too many "reality" TV shows? Princess Diana died in 1997--did that tragedy and the mood it placed over many people in Britain have an effect on the British reading public when the first book in this fantasy series came out the same year? Was there anxiety over Y2K that the series helped relieve? What about providing an escape after Sept. 11, 2001 (the first Harry Potter film debuted in the US in November, 2001). What were readers searching for that they found in the Harry Potter books? What role did Rowling's personal story play in attracting people's interest in the books, if any?

There are many big questions to ponder in relation to the Harry Potter books and the phenomenon they caused in publishing and popular culture.

What do you think? What is so great, after all, about Harry Potter? Why is it so popular with so many people? Many of you have told us what it means to you personally, but what do you think it means in the bigger picture? Any ideas?

Message Edited by ConnieK on 08-07-2007 11:49 AM


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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

I think the humor had a great deal to do with the story's popularity from the beginning. And this story has humor on many different levels, from the mature to the immature, much of it visual humor, which is no easy feat in a book of words!

Without that humor, I doubt it would have been even 5% as popular as it is.
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potionsmistress
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

I think I saw a bit of myself in Harry. He was picked on and mistreated by people all his life and then bang, he is the famous Harry Potter and a wizard. Even so, he always seemed like this kid that was unsureof himself untilnearly the end of the series. I kind of identified with the shyness and insecurity side of him and really revelled in his triumphs and when he proved himself to others. So I think that is what started me reading.

What kept me reading is that the storylines were awesome. Simple yet very different from everyday lfe. It did seem as though this could happen to you or that this world actually exists and we muggles don't even realize.
I love playing with my chemistry set, so there
"Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure"
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?



ConnieK wrote:
According to press reports, the Harry Potter books have now sold over 350 million copies worldwide. In the US, Scholastic has already ordered another 2 million copies in a second print run after the millions already sold on July 21st. In these weeks after the release of the final novel, many readers, teachers, librarians, book publishers, scholars and others are beginning the process of looking back at the Harry Potter series in an effort to understand and make sense of what happened with these books over the last 10 years.

Why were the Harry Potter books so popular? What kind of nerve did they strike in readers at this time and place in history? Will they last? Is the writing that good, or was the immense popularity of the books more the result of new electronic marketing campaigns, the Internet, and globalization? What factor did fan websites and discussion forums play in the steady interest in the series? What effect did the movies play in keeping interest in the books alive? Were people looking for an escape from too many "reality" TV shows? Princess Diana died in 1997--did that tragedy and the mood it placed over many people in Britain have an effect on the British reading public when the first book in this fantasy series came out the same year? Was there anxiety over Y2K that the series helped relieve? What about providing an escape after Sept. 11, 2001 (the first Harry Potter film debuted in the US in November, 2001). What were readers searching for that they found in the Harry Potter books? What role did Rowling's personal story play in attracting people's interest in the books, if any?

There are many big questions to ponder in relation to the Harry Potter books and the phenomenon they caused in publishing and popular culture.

What do you think? What is so great, after all, about Harry Potter? Why is it so popular with so many people? Many of you have told us what it means to you personally, but what do you think it means in the bigger picture? Any ideas?

Message Edited by ConnieK on 08-07-2007 11:49 AM




I think the HP series was so popular for many different reasons. For one, there is somone within the series that each and everyone of us could relate to. Whether it be the teased, forgetfull child or the brain, or the person everyone knows due to our parents. This alone pulls us in to find out what happens to our counterpart character.
Plus, I think that the fantasy part allows us to escape from the real world and fly away to the world of Hogwarts. It also has to due with the exquisite writing style of JKR. She had such amazing detail that you could truly picture the setting and characters. You were able to build everything in your head as you read through the words on the pages. It was more like images magically appearing in your head.

As a parent, I think that it kindof took me back to my childhood and for my daughter, it is the future to come. Not to mention, it was so easy to fall in love with the characters or love to hate them...depending on the character. It also was so thrilling and suspensful... you could not help but be draw in. Once you were hooked, you had to find out the destiny of each of the characters...not to mention the emotional attachment I felt to each of them. I can not remember when I cried so much while reading a book. The Harry Potter world was just one amazing place brought to us in seven well constructed books. The writings of JKR's Harry Potter will be remember for many generations to come, not to mention reread by her avid followers of today. JKR is one of the most intelligent writers I have ever read. The stupendus things she came up with are just too great for words. It is quit mind boggling how she was able to write such detail in such a lengthy series and never lost your interest. Harry Potter will live on forever.
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ABI
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

Because it's about an outcast who realizes he's the most famous wizard on earth! People just like that kind of theme.
But that's just how it began, how the first books sold, as they went on people were attracted to HP for different reasons. For me, I could relate and really CARE about the characters. There was always the question of "what's going to happen next?" and you could really worry about the characters too; it was also a really good talking point, NO ONE didn't know something about HP. I've cried over other books, but not like HP; when someone died in other books, i cried bacause i thought the way it was represented was sad, when i cry in HP, it's like losing a family member, i cry for never seeing them again.

But that's only my take on HP...
"There is nothing easier than self-deceit."
"Bombing for peace is like f***ing for virginity"
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"There is no end, unless you let it."
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PB684
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?


ConnieK wrote:
Was there anxiety over Y2K that the series helped relieve? What about providing an escape after Sept. 11, 2001 (the first Harry Potter film debuted in the US in November, 2001). What were readers searching for that they found in the Harry Potter books?




I think Connie makes a good point when she asks if the HP series satisfied something that we were searching for during this time of global turmoil. I think that many of us might have felt helpless and frightened after the disasters that occurred on Sept. 11th and even now after so many years of terrorist threats around the world. To find a place where people, especially children, can have some control over evil, i.e. casting spells, may have been a comforting thought.
PB684
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

Thanks, PB684--I'm wondering, too, really how much of the popularity built on itself, too. In other words, did the books become even more popular because they were popular with a few, and grew--people talking about them at the water cooler, etc., generated even more interest. If any book a few readers loved was suddenly talked about in the press, on the Internet, and seemingly everywhere, would that fact alone generate more readers? For example, if a novel, let's call it _Aunt Sofie's Sofa_, was suddenly EVERYwhere you looked, getting the "buzz," in other words, would that increase readers, movies, profits, etc.? Does popularity feed on itself alone, or does there have to be something more to it?

~ConnieK



PB684 wrote:

ConnieK wrote:
Was there anxiety over Y2K that the series helped relieve? What about providing an escape after Sept. 11, 2001 (the first Harry Potter film debuted in the US in November, 2001). What were readers searching for that they found in the Harry Potter books?




I think Connie makes a good point when she asks if the HP series satisfied something that we were searching for during this time of global turmoil. I think that many of us might have felt helpless and frightened after the disasters that occurred on Sept. 11th and even now after so many years of terrorist threats around the world. To find a place where people, especially children, can have some control over evil, i.e. casting spells, may have been a comforting thought.


~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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PattyBNUChick
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

For me if tons of people rave about a book, but I pick it up and can't get into it, I will just give up in the first few pages. Some guy I worked with was raving about Harry Potter just before GOF came out. I'm like 'Who is Harry Potter'. He almost choked in shock and the next day he brought SS to work and I read it that night and went to the book store and bought 2,3 and 4 and finished them that week. I really loved them and I absolutely devoured the first 4 books in just a week. My boyfriend was like 'You really are into books, but this is insane'. : )



ConnieK wrote:
Thanks, PB684--I'm wondering, too, really how much of the popularity built on itself, too. In other words, did the books become even more popular because they were popular with a few, and grew--people talking about them at the water cooler, etc., generated even more interest. If any book a few readers loved was suddenly talked about in the press, on the Internet, and seemingly everywhere, would that fact alone generate more readers? For example, if a novel, let's call it _Aunt Sofie's Sofa_, was suddenly EVERYwhere you looked, getting the "buzz," in other words, would that increase readers, movies, profits, etc.? Does popularity feed on itself alone, or does there have to be something more to it

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PB684
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?


ConnieK wrote:
Thanks, PB684--I'm wondering, too, really how much of the popularity built on itself, too. In other words, did the books become even more popular because they were popular with a few, and grew--people talking about them at the water cooler, etc., generated even more interest. If any book a few readers loved was suddenly talked about in the press, on the Internet, and seemingly everywhere, would that fact alone generate more readers? For example, if a novel, let's call it _Aunt Sofie's Sofa_, was suddenly EVERYwhere you looked, getting the "buzz," in other words, would that increase readers, movies, profits, etc.? Does popularity feed on itself alone, or does there have to be something more to it?

~ConnieK






I do think word of mouth was at least one of the initial driving forces in getting so many people reading HP. I know that I first heard of SS on a talk show and thought it would be a good book for my son who was 9 at the time it was published. I decided to read it first and was instantly hooked. Both of my children went on to devour anything Harry (my daughter, who is now 13, is just finishing DH while completely ignoring her summer reading assignment!). I definitely did my part in continuing the recommendation to many others but I also agree with PattyBNUChick that if the writing wasn't as engaging I probably wouldn't have stuck with it all these years.

Paula
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

I don't think the popularity had anything to do with advertising -- not for the adult readers, anyway. That spread by word of mouth -- which would not have happened if the books weren't so wonderful to begin with.

There is something about a book that grabs you so hard that you get lost in it-- when it is over and it is time to return to the real world, you NEED to talk about "where you've been" so you tell your friends about it, especially those friends whom you know would enjoy that experience as well. Then you talk about it some more when the friend reads the book.

That is how I was given the recommendation to read it and since then I've probably told 100 others...

The same thing happened to me when I read the DaVinci Code when it first came out. That book was wildly popular through word of mouth long long before I saw any advertising... it was only years later, just before the movie release, that I started seeing references to it or spin-off TV shows on the History Channel or spin-off books related to the historical (and now understood as fictional) underpinnings. But way before all that hoopla, it was just the kind of gripping yarn that once read, doesn't just get put away... it almost seems to require discussion afterward, and that, in turn, generates interest and by extension, further sales.
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stacielynn
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

The Harry Potter series was very easy to advertise. Not in the media but by word of mouth. Someone may have picked up the book by accident. Others waited until the media got ahold of the phenomenon of Harry Potter.

This seems to be the very first book series that has captured an audience of both children and adults for such a long time.

I remember reading when I was a child because "I had to for school". I never enjoyed reading until I found the Harry Potter series. This is true for many other adults. They find the series very intriguing. It takes you back in time to a place where there were no jobs to worry about. No families to raise.

Children as young as 6 years old are picking up these books and reading them from cover to cover. Younger children are asking their parents to read the books to them.

I know of several families that read a chapter of the books together every night.

It brings you into a world unlike our own. It makes your imagination run wild.
StacieLynn

Why does it have to end?

JKR Please write another book series.
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PB684
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?


stacielynn wrote:
The Harry Potter series was very easy to advertise. Not in the media but by word of mouth. Someone may have picked up the book by accident. Others waited until the media got ahold of the phenomenon of Harry Potter.

This seems to be the very first book series that has captured an audience of both children and adults for such a long time.

I remember reading when I was a child because "I had to for school". I never enjoyed reading until I found the Harry Potter series. This is true for many other adults. They find the series very intriguing. It takes you back in time to a place where there were no jobs to worry about. No families to raise.

Children as young as 6 years old are picking up these books and reading them from cover to cover. Younger children are asking their parents to read the books to them.

I know of several families that read a chapter of the books together every night.

It brings you into a world unlike our own. It makes your imagination run wild.




When the books first came out my son was 9 and my daughter was 4 so I read the books with them. It became a ritual every summer when a new one would come out to sit with them and read a few chapters each night. It was a very special family time. I was sad when my son decided to read them on his own but, because I was still reading them to my daughter, he would wander in and sit down to listen even though he had already read it. He actually went through a time (around book 6) where he lost interest and didn't finish the book...I think because he was 17 and felt it was too childish. Recently my daughter told him he really should read it and he did, just before book 7 came out. Now that he has finished all of them he is a Potter Freak like the rest of us!

Paula
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

I began the series for two reasons:

1. I became a teacher and I wanted to have that connection with my students.
2. I wanted to read what my child will probably read someday.

As you can see, I did not pick them up for myself. In fact, there was a point that I was kind of snobbish about reading them. I thought no other book could recreate the magic for me that Tolkien did with LOTR. How stupid of me! Since LOTR, I have read all seven Narnia books, Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, Inkheart (I still have to read Inkspell), and now all 7 Potter books. I have loved each of these books in their own way.

That said, Harry Potter is and probably will always be in my top 3 list of books/series for the same reasons that many of you have already mentioned. Rowling engages the reader in the first chapter of every book. She has a unique gift for storytelling that incorporated many elements not the least of which is humor. This is what sold it for me. I laughed out loud many, many, many times reading the Potter books. For me, it was the perfect antidote to all the sadness and suspense.

That said, I will follow Rowling into any genre or form of storytelling. She has gained a solid readership from me.
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ABI
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

[ Edited ]
Really? I began for the reason i've begun so many other books. I read Lotr when i was really young because everyone told me i couldn't, I couldn't bare their skeptical looks. I began the Da Vinci Code because a magazine said something like, "if you're one of the 12 people who haven't read this book..." and I remember thinking, "I can't be one of those people!" And i began HP so long ago because everyone else was reading it, and i couldn't not know what was going on! The thought horrified me! Oh, and I'm about to read "Possession" because a friend told me she couldn't read it. Unfortunately, my brother whose pretty young, doesn't seem to think the same way; i've been trying to get him to really read fro years now...ah, i'll be gone soon enough, and then hopefully, when he doesn't have anyone breathing down his neck about it, he'll actually pick up a book!

Funny, how the books i've loved the most i've only picked up for my arrogance and pride, and will to rub things in peoples faces... Ha, well, it's worked for me so far!

Message Edited by ABI on 08-10-2007 12:45 AM
"There is nothing easier than self-deceit."
"Bombing for peace is like f***ing for virginity"
"There is no such thing as death, only the absence of life."
"There is no end, unless you let it."
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: What's So Great About Harry Potter?

[ Edited ]
This discussion is terrific! Thanks, all! I'm noticing a few comments that keep cropping up:

1.) Many people are saying, after the first book, I was "hooked." That word, "hook," keeps popping up--there is something about JKR's storytelling in the series that grabs the reader right away, and then keeps it.

2.) The books can be enjoyed by both children and adults--that is, the entire family.

3.) Humor is one of the key features that kept (keeps) driving readers to return to the series, book after book.

4.) The popularity of the series spread through word of mouth perhaps as much as, or more than any advertising. That is, if you didn't have a friend, relative, or co-worker who told you how 'great' the books were, you were less likely to be influenced by any claims in the media. "Real" people who read them and loved them tended to influence other readers' choices to pick them up.

5.) The books lived up to the hype. Whether through people readers knew or through media campaigns, readers found the books lived up to what was promised.

6.) Curiosity over what all the fuss was about brought many readers to the series.

I have another question for you astute readers here on the Harry Potter Book Clubs--do you think (as an adult reader now, so this one would be for readers, say, 18 and up) that you "learned" anything about life, or gained any insights about life, from reading the series--or would you say you value them most for their entertainment and escape value? The books are great fun--but do you walk away with more to think about? Have they changed the way you view the world in any way? Death? Prejudice? Friendship? etc. Any enlightenments, "light bulb" moments? (I'm assuming for the sake of our discussion that the books may give insights to younger people in one or more of these areas, but I'm wondering about this aspect for adults).

Message Edited by ConnieK on 08-10-2007 10:14 AM
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]