Revisiting Hogwarts

When Harry Potter was first published I was exactly the target age for it.  At the time I was always very proud of the fact that I was reading it before it was cool!  I have a very vivid memory of sitting on the edge of my bed devouring my library copy of Chamber of Secrets.  I’m fairly sure I was supposed to be doing something else – possibly sleeping – but I was too scared to stop reading.

After that I was hooked.  Book one was soon received as a Christmas present but I was made to wait for book three to come out in paperback before I was allowed that one.  By the time book four came around I was buying the hardbacks as soon as they were published.  I even went to my local bookshop’s midnight opening for the final book and stayed up all night to read it.

I grew up with the characters and so the books have remained close to my heart – despite any shortcomings I might be able to see now.  However, I do find that my emotional responses to them have changed.  As a teenager The Order of the Phoenix was my least favourite book – partly because the ending broke my heart (I cried a lot) and partly because Harry was just so angry all the time.  I found him incredibly annoying! 

These days I have a lot more patience with Harry.  I am currently listening to the audiobooks for the first time and having just finished book five I find that instead of  being annoyed with Harry I am angry with all the adults – and especially Dumbledore – myself. Why not tell Harry why he needed to learn occlumency? If he’d known he might have tried harder and even if it didn’t work he would have been prepared for the consequences. As far as I can see the only reason not to tell him is to enable the plot to develop as it did.

Neither can I see any real reason not to tell him earlier why he needs to stay with the Dursleys every summer. Since eleven year old Harry knew Voldemort wanted to kill him wouldn’t it have been comforting to know that he was safe as long as he spent some of each year in Privet Drive? Plus, of course it would have made being there just a bit more bearable.

All that aside, these books were a big part of my childhood and they are hugely nostalgic for me now. I am sure I will visit them again many times in the future. Do you have any childhood favourites with which you have a different relationship now?

Exciting New Ventures

As I mentioned last week, my reading recently has been seriously curtailed as I have been keeping myself busy through lockdown by painting designs to use on stationery. I have always loved letter writing and when I stopped being able to browse my favourite stationery shops I started to design my own paper. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to open my own stationery shop online.

It has been a lot of work (painting is the smallest part of it!) and I am exhausted but my little shop opened on Saturday. I have enjoyed the painting so much that my range is going to increase quickly – I currently have a selection of letter paper, while cards and bookmarks will be following shortly. Of course, books are one of my favourite things to draw so they had to feature.

I celebrated the opening by taking my pony for a ride and then settling down to read The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. I have never read it before but had been meaning to do so for such a long time. It was the most delightful children’s book and exactly the easy reading I needed. I will definitely be seeking out the second book soon.

Books as Decoration

I haven’t been able to do much reading this week – I am in the final stages of setting up my online stationery shop (opening on Saturday!) and so any time I can spare has been dedicated to that. It has been quite an intense process and even at bedtime I am normally too tired for more than a couple of pages. Still, I am very much enjoying the process and am looking forward to opening for business.

I am not being completely deprived of books though – audiobooks are wonderful if I am doing something which doesn’t involve too much brain power – and just seeing some of my beautiful books is enough to make me happy. This little stack of Enid Blyton books on the staircase always makes me smile.

Hopefully things will be more normal for me next week and I will be right back in the swing of reading. I do have a lovely pile just waiting for me to get to it!

Lockdown Browsing

This has been a good week for me as it saw the arrival of the latest magazine from the Friends of the Chalet School.  I love this magazine with its huge range of interesting articles written by club members. Reading it is like having the best kind of bookish conversation with friends.

This time though, I found myself reaching for the sales and wants section (where members can advertise books for sale – and, of course, those they want) before embarking on reading the magazine itself.  That is not so usual for me and it got me thinking.  Lockdown has obviously stopped all visits to the bookshop and although books can be bought online – for which I am very grateful right now – there is nothing quite so good as browsing in a real, bricks and mortar bookshop.

Part of that joy is of course the browsing among the shelves, not looking for anything in particular.  Those unexpected, unlooked for finds of books I didn’t even know existed are for me even more exciting than finding a book I knew I wanted.  That is something I find much harder on a website and is I think part of the reason I was so happy with my sales and wants list.  You never know what you will find listed there and although most of the titles are familiar there is always something which tempts me into trying to secure it for my collection.

This then is how I will be spending my evening – with a large cup of tea and a highlighter to hand.