Thursday, July 22, 2010

Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon

Book Title: Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon
Author: Melissa Anelli
How I got it: Downloaded it on my nook.
Why I read it: Being the Harry Potter geek that I am, the idea of learning more about it delighted me, so I bought it.
Rating: 5+ Stars

**Warning for possible Harry Potter spoilers up through book 7**

J.K. Rowling took Children’s Fiction a huge step forward when she began Harry’s story. When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was first published the best selling series was the Goosebumps series. Children’s novels were never over about 150 pages.Books were supposed to be politically correct and should help direct children to do the right things, they should teach not entertain. Novels with any hint of British culture were discouraged, little details like milk bottles on the porch and the Underground were kept out of books because they thought it would dissuade readers. J.K. broke those rules and forever changed Children’s Fiction.

Harry, A History tells the story of what was going on in the ‘real’ world while Harry’s story was being written. The author, Melissa, is the web mistress of “The Leaky Cauldron”, and was at the very center of all the fandom. She describes how she herself got into the story, beginning with her reluctance to read the books and then quickly moving to snatching brief moments to read between classes and breaks at work.Gradually becoming extremely well known among the fandom. As a reporter and fan she became as involved with it as possible, standing in line waiting for the latest book release, attending conventions devoted entirely to Harry Potter, even going as far as to interview Laura Mallory, the woman who relentlessly protested the Harry Potter books, calling them “evil” and demanding that they be banned. Melissa was even lucky enough to meet and become friends with J.K.Rowling.

Now, normally I don’t really enjoy reading nonfiction. This book was different, I could not put it down! Her descriptions of waiting impatiently in line for that magical time of 12:00 when we would finally get to jump back into the world of Harry Potter, jumping up and down with excitement upon seeing the movie trailer for Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time, breathlessly awaiting news of when the next book was going to be released and guessing what the title would be, all of that took me right back to those moments. I was reliving those moments over again, remembering how it all was. I’ve never had a book affect me in the way that Harry, A History, did. I laughed, I was even brought to tears at some points remembering fond memories, I talked back to the book things like: “I remember that!” or “Oh my gosh, me too!” or when I got to the parts about Laura Mallory it was more like “You have got to be freaking kidding me!” (I’m telling you, that woman is insane-very dedicated to her beliefs- but quite insane.) I found myself falling in love with the series all over again and the moment I finished the book I had to go back and reread the series.

There is something uniquely special about growing up with the Harry Potter series. I was 10 when I started reading the books and I was 17 when Deathly Hallows was released. I think those that are just now reading them really missed out on something special. I wouldn’t give up those late nights of waiting in line for the book, meeting wonderfully odd people, getting my face painted, and then finally, finally getting my hands on the long awaited book. I can still remember how the book felt in my hands, and even remember the way that the book smelled. I grew up with the characters, laughing with them, cheering them on, crying when Dumbledore died and then crying even harder after the events of the 7th book. There is a quote from the book that I think quite accurately describes how I, and many others, feel about the books. She is describing finding the books in a box a year after she had read them for the first time.

“I pried loose a rose-colored book with a textured cover, and stared again at Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”. I ran a hand across the cover in the cheesy way that people do in Hallmark commercials, then scurried back to sit against the wall, and opened the book for the second time.

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

I sighed aloud, as if I’d sunk into a down comforter. The ho-hum tone of the opening sentence was a complete lie, and it felt great to know it. There were giants and dragons and spells and witches and battles and friendship and magic to come, and it was all funny and warm and loving and powerful, and I hadn’t realized how much I had missed it.”

I can’t recommend this book enough, if you love the Harry Potter books read this and fall in love again. It was like experiencing the excitement all over again, plus I learned a lot along the way. If you are new to the series, pick this book up and read about what you missed it’s almost (almost) as good as experiencing it for yourself.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. I’m off to visit Harry’s world again.


  1. I do feel as though I missed out on something when I was younger. I don't know WHY I didn't get into them. I was a huge reader. Although, I feel like in middle school I took a "break" from reading so much.

    Sounds like an interesting book for HP fans. I'll have to suggest to my friend who has read the series like 10 or more times.

  2. Oh, I NEED to read this. I've been bumming recently that everything is finally coming to an end--just the last movie is all that's left. I've been dying to experience the excitement again, so it looks like I have some reading to do!

  3. Growing up with Harry was just a wonderful experience and after reading this I'm dying to reread the whole series! I already had this book on my to-read list, but haven't been able to get my hands on it yet.

  4. I definitely have to get my hands on this!
    Thanks for the review :D

    By the way, biiiig Harry Potter fan over here :D

  5. Adding this to my TBR. This brought back memories of writing a research paper in high school about the Harry Potter phenomenon, more specifically the art of guessing what would happen next. It was right after book five and I read all of the books about deciphering clues and hints. Good times! It was the second most loved research paper I've written (the first loved was on the history of romance novels)

    Great review! This book would be a good gear up for my big reread before november!

  6. I saw this on my RSS reader, and my eyes literally bugged out of my head. Like you, I got into Harry Potter when I was the same age as the characters, so the series was an essential part of growing up.
    You HAVE made me regret not lining up at midnight, but I've had some awesome memories nonetheless.
    Anyway, I had no clue this book was out, but this is going to be read asap, dammit.
    Excellent review!

  7. Oh, I LOVE this book. It just brings back so many great memories...I was 7 when I read the first book and 14 when DH came out. But, yeah. I have no words for how much I love this book.

  8. Seriously great review. Sounds like the perfect book for a Harry Potter nerd like me. It's true, we are in a unique generation, that was able to grow up along with Harry.


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