Friday, 27 May 2011

Re-reading Harry Potter (or becoming a critical reader)

Before we got married I discovered that J had never read the HP series, not any of it. I also discovered that reading to him is a good way to get him to sleep when he's stressed. Thus I began reading a little to him most nights. Usually I only get through a page or so and he's asleep so about a year later we're only just arriving at Hogwarts in 3rd year.

Now when I read, I read for pleasure and I don't care what I read, it takes some pretty poor writing or a really bad story to make me want to give up on a book. I tend not to care for the most part about bad writing as long as I can get lost in the story, I don't even tend to notice horrible sentences or vast amounts of telling or any of the other things that would make a book 'bad'*. Which is why this re-reading of the HP series has me totally confused (and on more than one account screaming at the book).

Maybe it's because I'm reading it out loud and so focusing on the words and sentences more, maybe it's because I'm a bit more used to spotting bad* writing, or maybe the writing in the books is bad but I get to caught up in the story to notice it normally. Doesn't matter. Main point is that these books, which I've re-read every year since the came out, are driving me nuts and I'm really not enjoying them.

The end of book 1 has a part where we're given Harry's thoughts, the first and only time that happens in that book. It's kind of jarring. It doesn't happen often in the rest of the series, and that's the most jarring example of it but every time it comes up and you get a "'I should do this now' thought Harry " moment, it makes me pause for a moment. I might be wrong but I think the rest of the book is written in 3rd person, why suddenly jump to first?**

Book 2 has some wonderful repetition going on in it where we're told what certain characters are doing over and over (the Weasley twins pushing Harry's trunk).

Book 3 has the trio put there trunks in an empty carriage of the train, get off the train, get back on and hunt again for an empty carriage eventually finding one that just happens to have their trunks in it (Oh, and Lupin). I screamed so much at that I woke Jeff up.

I could go on but I wont. Part of me is annoyed that these books have now become kind of tainted for me, I'll probably still read them again at some point but I'm not sure I'll get the same enjoyment from them. And part of me is proud that I'm finally spotting bad* writing and hoping it will make a difference in my own writing.

*'bad' objectively speaking, everyone's view of what makes a book bad is different.
** Well aware I could have this wrong, I get my viewpoints confused all the time, I once wrote an essay in 3rd person objective when it should have been in 2nd person.


  1. Rowling's notorious for using far too many adjectives and rambling descriptions and such... But I just love her storytelling and world building so much that it doesn't bother me? :)

  2. Yeah, I think if the world building and storytelling are of a high enough level readers are more likely to forgive so called 'bad' writing habits.