I’m only 18 years late.

Remember that one time I said I was going to write more? I know, it’s been so long ago, even I barely remember that happened. What is it with life and getting in the way of things? Between traveling, getting work/school/life stuff squared away for the fall, and family duties, this summer has flown by faster than Harry Potter on a broomstick.

Oh, what a convenient segue…

Harry Potter spoilers to follow. So if, by some weird twist of the universe I am NOT the last one to get on board the Harry Potter train– or should I say, the Hogwarts Express– you might not want to continue this post just yet.

One thing that has not gotten dropped by the wayside, however, is my finishing reading the Harry Potter books. I know, I know, I’m late to the party. REALLY late to the party. Like nearly twenty years late to the party (and my mom thinks ten minutes is bad). But I finally found my other shoe and ate some dinner on the way in the car and ARRIVED to the sweet, blissful, heart-wrenching, lovable party world of Harry Potter. And I quite love it.

Firstly, there’s the whole “the books are amazing,” thing, which I don’t feel I need to reiterate too much because there’s been a whole eighteen years of people gushing about them. They’re well-written, interesting, nostalgic, clever books that’ll have you holed up reading for hours. And if, perhaps, you’re not so keen on doing the hard labor of reading yourself, there are two amazing audiobook versions (that have probably started real-life minor skirmishes in rural parts of the fandom. Guys, they’re both great. Settle down.). Not to mention an entire fan culture already in place from several decades of books and films. It’s the stuff of dreams, really. But, we all know that stuff and it’s pretty much universal knowledge at this point. So cool beans, whatever.

But NOW… now that I’ve finally read all the books, I can allow myself to dive into the vast fandom culture and enjoy the whole world of Harry Potter goodness. From Pottermore (apparently I’m a Ravenclaw) to funny tumblrs like this one to the films and beyond, I can finally chill out about Harry Potter spoilers and enjoy social media for the first time ever. Seriously, there’s HP stuff everywhere. STILL. Like, yeah I knew Dumbledore died (although I thought it was in the last book, so when he died before that I had the equivalent of two cows), but aside from that I tried to keep myself as pure as possible to have the best first-time experience I could, and do you know how hard that was? TOO HARD. But totally worth it.

I’m sort of glad I didn’t start reading until everything was completed (books and movies alike), because just thinking about having to wait a year or two in between installments is a special kind of torture. The original book releases span ten years. Ten years of traveling with Harry on his journey. I only spent a year reading through them and I’m already exhausted. But in a really good “I wish there was more” kind of way. I am a bit jealous of the much deeper emotional component that I’m sure came with the slow, gradual unfolding of the story. I mean, you spend seven years reading about good-hearted Dumblydore and then he up and DIES? And then gets trash-talked for most of the last book? I would be in tears every day. Not to mention the reveal of Snape, the death of Fred, or the courage of Neville. Heck, if I think about it too long, I’ll be in tears just thinking about how I would be in tears if I had lived the real-time story of the series. BECAUSE FRED. Excuse me while I go cry in a corner.

Speaking of Fred, one of the biggest shocks to me was the fact that the Weasley twins became my favorite characters, even from book one. Going into it I fully expected to find them annoying, but heck no, techno. MY FAVES. My babies. AND THEN FRED FREAKING DIES. I hate J.K. Rowling. But I love her. But I hate her.

So basically I’m in a weird state of elation and depression about finishing the books. Yay all the other HP stuff! Boo not having anymore books to read. Excuse me while I go waste away exploring Pottermore for the next 67 years.

I thought I was a Hufflepuff all this time,

Anna Beth

P.S. Do leave a comment with any interesting, funny, essential, etc. Harry Potter related things I should know about. Aside from this youtube video, I’m a pretty blank slate.

The Fault in Our Stars: An Unpopular Opinion

I finally read The Fault in Our Stars. I was surprised. But probably not in the way you’d expect.

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One reason I love Christmas holiday is the whole reading-by-the-fire aspect. A crazy music school life doesn’t lend itself well to much reading outside of required materials during the school year, so I quite enjoy some time to catch up on current (and not-so-current, such as a bit of Charlotte Bronte or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) literary favorites. This past Christmas included the New York Times Best Selling, soon-to-be-released-in-movie-form, tumblr favorite, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.

Well. It sort of did. I got a chapter in before I realized, after having enjoyed some blissfully intellectually challenging reads, I wouldn’t be able to stomach the “modern, young” approach to writing. At the time I thought I’d never pick it back up again (I even complained about how juvenile the whole thing was to my best friend.. and then quickly recanted as I admitted I’d only read the first chapter or two), but about a month later in a moment of Saturday morning weakness, I caved. Not wanting to crawl out of my warm nest of blankets and cats just yet, I pulled it out one more time.

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I should probably say at this point that I in no way consider myself a book snob (although admittedly it sounds as so up until this point). I enjoy fluff books just as much as classics– probably more so sometimes if I’m completely honest. In fact, sometimes I find myself reading classics because I feel like I should, not because I want to. But then a lot of times I end up enjoying them quite a lot, so perhaps it pays off in the end. Anyway, it’s not that I’m saying The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) is fluff, but that’s just the point.

With it being critically acclaimed, so popular I’ve been assaulted with it practically since it was released, and highly anticipated in it’s newest form– movie adaption, well, I was sort of expecting something that would blow my socks off and then magically regenerate them as mittens. But I can’t say that’s exactly what happened. BEFORE YOU HATE ME, let me explain. And also let us take a second to imagine socks being reincarnated as mittens, because that would be pretty cool.

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To be completely fair, I get that John Green’s writing is quirky and amusing. I get that this book is listed under the young adult section– the inference there being that it’s intended audience is somewhere between the ages of 14-17. I get that it’s a refreshingly frank look at cancer, something that has affected a huge amount of people, either personally or relationally (myself included). I get that his intent was to capture the characters and thought processes of teenagers, which he does quite well.

But somehow in the midst of that, I didn’t find the story all that endearing or well-portrayed. Endearing and well-portrayed enough for a “good” book sappy teenagers are bound to enjoy (which there is nothing wrong with), but good enough to capture the hearts of every twenty-something I’ve talked to in the past year and jolt it to a New York Time’s Best Sellers list for seven consecutive weeks? I’m not so sure.

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Perhaps the golden egg of this book is its artistic treatment of terminal illness in the hands of a sarcastic, down-to-earth teenager doomed to die. Green certainly captures that character. If people were going on about that aspect of it and how clever Green is in his intentional adolescence, then I think I’d better understand the hype.

But that’s not what I’m bombarded with all the time at school and on tumblr and every time I go to a coffee shop (no really– pay attention next time you walk in a coffee shop. Guaranteed you’ll see someone with a copy of TFIOS tucked underneath their Mac like it’s their third lung. … OH MAN. No pun intended. My bad.).

Instead, people of legal drinking age everywhere are going on about how deep and insightful and romantic the story is. The few (admittedly) cute, quirky, or clever quotes included amidst the less-than-whimsical writing (which, granted, is probably a draw for some people) have been mercilessly superimposed over inspirational photos, some of which are seen sprinkled in this post. Even TFIOS tattoos are becoming common place among my peers. I guess it just makes me sad that my generation is so easily impressed, so easily caught up in a rather cheesy romance story, so quick to adopt what feels like an intentionally (and perhaps artistically?) shallow work. They truly are passionate about this story, and they make that abundantly clear through raving posts, hysterical youtube videos, and an impressive amount of tears.

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So, while I do understand part of the novelty of it, I didn’t feel the writing was compelling enough for me to want to read another book by Green, nor do I think it deserves the massive (and I mean massive) amounts of hype.

Also, his frequent use of the word “nubbins” makes me uncomfortable. There’s nothing inherently wrong about that, I just don’t like the word because I’m dumb and have words that weird me out for no reason. It’s beside the point, but I felt I needed to get that out.

All that being said, no real judgement for those of you who have read and loved TFIOS, only a kind roll of the eyes and dramatic sigh. I’m not looking to start a war here, just simply state a personal opinion and perplexing confusion. I’m sure you have your reasons for loving, and by all means– share them in the comments! I may seem like a completely cold-hearted old soul, but I promise I’m not. Okay?

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Anna Beth

All images found at images.google.com