Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reading Harry Potter Beginning to End: Bridget's Experience

Earlier this year, I participated in a Harry Potter (re)read-a-long. I believe it's still going, actually, but I didn't do much with it other than reread the series beginning to end, something I had never actually done before. The closest I had gotten up until this point was before Deathly Hallows came out, at which point I decided it would be a good idea to reread Half Blood Prince. However, I was a little over-enthusiastic and started HBP three weeks before DH was due out, so of course I finished in two days and was left wondering what to do. Naturally, I decided to read Order of the Phoenix...but then that only took me a few days as well. Eventually, I ended up reading all six previous books in reverse order, and then jumped straight into the seventh after finishing Sorcerer's Stone. It was a weird experience.

That fall, I went off to college, of course toting my entire Harry Potter collection with me. As it turns out, this was not the most efficient use of space, as I don't remember picking up any of the books at all that year except for Deathly Hallows. So from then on, that was the only HP book I brought to school with me.

So, now here we are in September and I discover this Harry Potter readalong is happening, and I decide that I have to join. I hadn't read any of them recently enough to have reviewed them on my blog, so I figured it'd be the perfect chance to do just that. Boy, was I wrong.

I blew through them so fast I barely had time to eat, much less review each one as I finished.

Having the next installment immediately at my disposal as soon as I finished was not the best for my productivity outside this project, but boy was it nice while I was reading! I'd say it probably took me only about three weeks to read the entire series again all the way through. For those who have never done this, I would recommend it for a few reasons:

1. You get to watch J.K. Rowling's voice progress from uncertain first time author to the badass we begin to see in Goblet of Fire. It's so interesting to see and wasn't something I really noticed when I was reading them for the first time (partially because I was too young, but also because they came out so far apart from each other). I did notice it a bit when I read them backwards, but obviously it was cooler to see the progression moving forward rather than backward.

2. You don't have to think back too hard to remember what happened in the last book. I remember whenever a new Harry Potter came out, I was always confused for the first chapter or so until I fully remembered the end of the previous book. When you read them all in a row, that doesn't happen and it's awesome! It was a lot easier to pick up on some nuanced things that I might not have noticed, too.

3. You get to see the series as one story rather than a set of stories. This sort of piggybacks on number 2, but I think it deserves its own point because it's important to me separately from my bad memory. The titles of the books sort of lend themselves to the belief that the stories are all separate, except for the fact that they all involve Harry Potter. As we all know, that's obviously not true, but it's a lot easier to see the forest rather than the trees when you put the whole series together and read it as one story.

Has anyone else had this experience? Did you do the readalong or did you just do it on your own?


  1. You're making me want to re-read them ALL! Sadly, my collection misses Goblet of Fire in English (I do own all in Dutch), so I might have to wait a while, cause it just wouldn't be the same...
    But YAY for Harry Potter and rereading! :)

  2. I started the Harry Potter series in August 2007 and finished it in October, right before I started university and moved into the dorms. For me, it was one gloriously extended adventure, and my enjoyment of it had only one delay, the popularity of Deathly Hallows. It took a while for my library to have a copy for me to read! I've since re-read the series..well, at least once per year. That year I read them twice, in Aug-October and then again in December, over Christmas break.

    1. Wow, now that's dedication!! I read them as they came out, so I'd occasionally reread a few of them, but never really in order. I never read the entire series all the way through until this year, and thinking back now, I can't believe it took me until FIVE YEARS after Deathly Hallows came out to do it!

  3. I did this. It was so different reading them one after the other -- not having to wait a YEAR between each book, like the first time I read them. I'm not generally a "re-reader" but I highly recommend reading these 7 books all in a row. It was great!

  4. I've had an annual summer reread of HP for the last...8 years? Maybe longer. I'd reread the whole series each time a new book came out, starting probably after book 4 and then after 7 came out, the whole thing.

    I skipped this year though. It took me a ridiculously long time to read them last year and I decided to come back fresh with it next year. And hopefully make my sister read them for the first time. (She looooves the films, but isn't much of a reader)

  5. I'm planning to do this in December, mostly because it's around the time my cousin does it as well. I miss the HP series quite a lot!

  6. My favorite thing about reading the series back to back, which I did about 2-3 years ago, was picking up on the nuances like the vanishing cabinet the plays such an integral role in Book 6 being broken by Peeves in Book 1 or 2, (like I said it was 2-3 years ago!) but you really get the arch of the whole story much more powerfully.

  7. I've always wanted to do this, but just haven't found the time. I feel like this would become a summer project for me. Maybe that'll be my summer project...

  8. I had re-read the series when book 5 or 6 came out.. but have been meaning to do it again straight through.. I love that her writing, with Harry, grows up and progresses.. :) Thank you for the reminder/inspiration to get around to this!

  9. Yeah. I reread all of the books before the Deathly Hallows came out just to refresh myself. Some of the books I had read more than once, but not all. What I found was that from reading them as they were released, there was a lot of detail that had gotten lost. I remembered the overall story and the major events and such, but there were so many little things that were so important to understanding exactly what was going on that I had just forgotten about. And it was great not haviing to wait until the next book.
    Tammy @

  10. I have reread all of the HP books over the years, meaning to read only a chapter to unwind and ending up reading the whole book.. :) but not all in one go. This fall however, I have been listening to the audiobooks, read by Stephen Fry, one after the other. And it is just fantastic!

  11. I reread 1-4 before 5 came out, and then recently I reread 6 before 7 came out. So I think I am due for a rereading of the series, all together in the next year or two! :)

    I like your philosophy on the reasons why I should reread. I think it would be great (especially after reading The Casual Vacancy) to check out how J.K. changes throughout the HP novels. I also think it's cool how you can see the story as one when you read it all in a row, not fragmented like we've all done before.


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