Harry Potter

I don’t write book reviews, remember?

I woke up this morning and thought about writing a blog post about the Harry Potter books.

I heard the name “Harry Potter” for the first time in the year 1999.  It was my first year as a college student in the USA.  I told my adviser that I was interested in children’s literature.  So she told me to read this book called Harry Potter.  That was the first time I heard the name Harry Potter.  And it meant absolutely nothing to me.  It was just a name.  A boy’s name.  That was it.  So I didn’t go find the book and read it like my adviser suggested.

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I think it was later that year or maybe early in 2000 that I actually touched the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  A friend of mine was reading it (She was from Costa Rica).  I remembered that it was the one my adviser was talking about so I asked her if it was any good.  She said she liked it a lot, and she lent it to me after she was done.

I still remember that I started reading it in the storage in the basement in my dorm.  I worked at the reception desk in my dorm, and at the end of the school year I had to also work in the storage because people had to move out of the dorm and needed to keep some stuff in storage.  So I was sitting there at the desk in the storage, reading the first Harry Potter book.  I got through a few pages, but it didn’t interest me.  So I gave to book back to my friend and forgot all about it.

That summer I was staying with my host family in St. Paul, Minnesota.  One day my host sister took me to her boyfriend’s house.  We stayed there for a really long time, late into the night (more maybe the next morning).  I was really bored.  I remember I was sitting alone in the living room and my sister and her boyfriend was somewhere else when I started reading this book.  It’s the first Harry Potter book belonged to my host sister’s boyfriend.  This time I had to read past the first few pages because I had to wait for my host sister for a really long time.  And at one point I couldn’t put it down.  I took the book home with me (with permission, of course) when my host sister and I left.

Reading the book was magical.  I remember sitting outside somewhere in Minneapolis and reading it out loud to my host sister (she started reading it after I was done with it).

My host family bought me the second, the third, and the fourth book.  The fourth book actually came out that summer.  I watched the news about it on tv.  I read articles about it in newspapers and magazines.

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I came back to the college in the fall with my three Harry Potter books (I didn’t buy the first one), and I reread them throughout the school year.

I bought the fifth book when I came back to Thailand.  I was working as an English teacher at this school when the book came out.  My students were excited about it.  I went to buy the book after work on Friday.  I spent the night at my friend’s house (she also bought the book).  Oh, and it was my first UK version (the US version was sold out).  We read late into the night.  I woke up early the next morning and took the bus home.  I read all day and most of the night on Saturday and Sunday.  I was determined to finish it before Monday morning when I had to go back to work.  My cousin came to see me on Saturday or Sunday (I think it was Sunday).  And he said I looked like hell.  I told him I hadn’t been sleeping because I was reading the new Harry Potter book.

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I finally finished reading at about 2am on Monday.  I had a little bit of sleep.  And then I woke up and went to work.

I told myself I would  not do something like that again.  I was reading too fast.  I was focusing on finishing the book on time that I didn’t enjoy it fully.

However, I did cry when Sirius died.  He was my favorite character.

I bought the sixth book in the Republic of Ireland.  The UK version.  I read it there and on the plane back to the US.  I finished reading it in the US and gave the book to one of my American friends.  It was living in Ohio at the time, but I had to move again so I couldn’t keep most of my books.

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I bought the seventh book in Texas.  It was my second day in Lubbock, Texas.  I was about to start my PhD program at Texas Tech University.  This nice girl took me grocery shopping.  And at the grocery store I saw piles and piles of the orange Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows books, so I grabbed one.

The international students who were TAs had to be on campus for some training about 2 weeks before school started, and we were all put in this one dorm.  It was a fun time actually.  It was nice being back in school and living in a dorm room with a roommate.

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But I needed my alone time and a quiet place to read my Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  So I went to the study room everyday with my gigantic Harry Potter book.  Everybody thought I was studying.  It was kinda fun when I told them that I wasn’t studying; I was reading Harry Potter.

I was moving around a lot so I didn’t get to keep any of my Harry Potter books.  But it was a lot of fun reading them.

Dawn

My favorite time of day is dawn.

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I love this book for many reasons.

First, I’m a fan of Elie Wiesel.  But that’s not the main reason.

But I’m going to tell you how I became a fan of his anyway.

Many years ago, when I was still a theatre student, I had to take this play exam.  We had to read 120 plays and took an easy multiple choice exam about them.  I know a lot of people just read the summaries, but I didn’t.  I printed out the list of plays and read them one by one.

When I got to the one called The Trial of God by this author named Elie Wiesel, I didn’t want to read it.  I didn’t know the author.  And the book (the play) I borrowed from the library was really old and really thick.

I read it anyway.  I was a good student.

I’d never thought I’d like it.  But it turned out to be my most favorite out of the 120 plays I had to read for the exam.  When I told my teacher about it, he was surprised.

I wrote a blog post about this play in my other blog.  But at that time I thought what the author said in the play was so specific it was so universal.  I was a Buddhist at the time, and when I read the play I felt that we were all the same.  We were all here.  And we were all human.

I didn’t read Night until much later.  I think it was about this time last year.  And I’ve just finished reading Dawn today.

I love the way Wiesel tells the story.  He makes everything very simple, yet profound.  It’s like he paints a picture for us.  And a lot of times the pictures are abstract.  But we understand it anyway.

While reading this book, I was thinking that actions were important.  But what’s going on inside a person before, during, and after he or she performs an action is equally important.  That’s why we can’t judge anyone on their action alone.

That’s why we shouldn’t judge anyone at all.

Einstein’s Dreams

Last week I walked into the library several times, feeling frustrated because I didn’t know what I wanted to read.  I’d just finished a book that I didn’t really enjoy.  And I wanted to read something fun, something that I would enjoy, something that would make me happy.  But I didn’t know what to read.  I was thinking for a while, spending some time in the library.  I decided on The Hound of Baskervilles.  I didn’t know why.  At least I knew what to expect.  And a good detective story wouldn’t let you down.  As I was leaving the stacks I decided to stop by the Thai books shelves.  I was just looking without anything in mind.  In fact, I was just buying time.  I didn’t want to leave the library too soon.  Maybe I didn’t want to read The Hound of Baskervilles.  And that was when I came across this thin book (yes, I didn’t want to read anything long either).  It was the novel Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman translated to Thai.  I don’t usually read books that are translated to Thai.  I mean, if the books are in English I’d like to read the originals.  But this one looked okay to me.  So I checked it out.

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And it turned out to be one of my favorite books now!  I like how each chapter is short and sweet.  I love the simple language and the simple way of telling the story (or more like stories).  But what I like most about it is that fact that it transported me back to when I was young.  When I was young I loved to daydream (I should do it more often now).  And sometimes I would dream about the many different ways that we could live our lives.  I also love that the descriptions of the people and the places were minimal, but I could see them very clearly in my head.

Lost and Found

After work today I wanted to go to a xerox place.  My friend told me to go to this place that he always goes to.  But I couldn’t find it at first.  I was walking along narrow streets and alleys, and I found a little xerox shop with a green fence.  I was more like a house than a shop.  It was very cute.  I walked in, and this old man came out to greet me.  I told him what I wanted, but he said he only did small jobs.  If I wanted a lot of xeroxing done there were other shops nearby.  I said thank you, but before I left I saw a small pile of books (very small-about seven or eight books).  I asked him if they were for sale.  He said yes.  They were used books.  I looked through them, and I bought these three:

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I am currently reading Be Here Now by Ram Dass, so I think this was an awesome coincidence.

In the end I found the shop I was looking for.  But I am glad I was lost and found these books.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Part 2)

In my previous post about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I wrote that I stopped reading the book at page 516.  At that time I never thought I would pick it up again.  I was wrong.

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Two weeks ago I started a new job and moved to a new city.  All of a sudden I was wondering how Mr. Wind-Up Bird was doing.  The book is about the changes that happen in his life.  And as my life changed, it made me think about him.  As I wondered where this new road would lead me, I also wondered where Mr. Wind-Up Bird ended up on his journey.  So I picked up the book where I had left off.

I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed the rest of the book.  I finished it this morning.  I think books are like relationships.  Sometimes you need a little bit of a break  in order to begin again.

A Little Less, A Little More

One of my new year resolutions for 2016 is to read a little less and spend more quality time with each book I read.

I’ve often seen people give themselves a challenge that they will read 50 books this year or 100 books this year and so and so.  I never gave myself that kind of challenge.  And I don’t intend to.  My goodreads record says that I read 41 books this year (but that’s not quite true because I didn’t log some of the books or articles from books I had to read for work and I didn’t log all the manga I read either). Anyway, the number of books I read may not be a lot compared to people who read 100 books a year.  But I still think that I read too fast and too many books.  I don’t have a bookshelf at home (There’s a reason for that, but I’m not gonna go into it right now) so when I finish reading a book I put it in a box (I have several boxes with different categories).  And sometimes I think, is that it?  I’m just gonna be done with it just like that?

I remember when I was a kid and I didn’t have money to buy my own books and I had to ask my mom to buy them for me.  I didn’t have very many books then, but I spent a lot of time with each one of them.  I read them over and over and I daydreamed with them.  Those were such wonderful times.  Now I read like I’m in a race.  And I don’t like it.  Some books are too good and too special for that.

I read a lot less then than now, but my memories of each book I read when I was a kid are still very vivid.  Now sometimes I don’t even remember the title of the previous book I read.

So in 2016 I want to spend more time with each book I read.  I want to read slower and I want to let each book sink in before I reach out to grab a new one. I don’t know how to do that yet, but we’ll see.