Who Cares About Harry Potter?

November 19, 2010

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This weekend marks the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One.  Yep, the final Potter book is being split into two movies (part 2 due next July) in an effort to maximize revenue.

Honestly, this really isn’t the genre for me.  My favorite writers generally stay in the mystery and suspense genres (although the Preston/Child books swing a bit into the paranormal).  When I get tired of those writers, I have a backlog of classics to catch up on.  Quite honestly, the wizards, witches, and vampires that currently capture the attention of society are really not my cup of tea.  I haven’t read any of the Potter books, and was quickly bored when I saw one of the movies on TV.

Logically, then, you probably think that I’m not a fan of Harry.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

As disinterested as I am in the genre, I am thrilled to see young readers picking up a book – any book.  If the Harry Potter tomes are the gateway books to Shakespeare, Dickens, and Block, then J.K. Rowling is doing society a great service.  Just as interesting is the fact that many adults are getting into Potter – cracking open a book instead of spending time in front of the TV.

Even television – which I occassionally refer to as the “idiot box” has come into an era where there are many educational shows gaining in popularity.  I’ve always been a fan of crime shows (NCIS is my current favorite), and there are a ton of shows on TV that delve into the science of forensics (albeit sometimes in a sensationalistic fashion) as well as the inductive reasoning techniques used by detectives – techniques that can be quite valuable in solving real-life problems.

The upshot of all of this is that the old stereotype of smart people being “squares” and “not cool” is starting to erode, as smart characters take the lead in many popular books, movies, and television shows.  Anything that causes kids to have a positive view of education is a good thing, in my opinion.

The story behind the Harry Potter story is also interesting to me.  J.K. Rowling wrote the first book while on government aid and after beating back clinical depression.  How’s that for a Horatio Alger story?  The money that England spent on Rowling was pretty well spent – imagine how many millions she had paid in taxes over the years!  Additionally, Rowling is involved with a number of charities in Britain.

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