2012 Book 142: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Written by J. K. Rowling, Narrated by Jim Dale
Reason for Reading: This is my third book for Book Journey‘s blog tour for Banned Books Week, and this time I decided to try something familiar. Since Lostgenerationreader is having a Harry Potter readalong, I decided to join in and read the first HP book for Banned Books week. 🙂 This is probably my third time reading this particular book, but it will be my first time reading the series “in one go.”
Harry Potter has been living with his neglectful and emotionally abusive parents ever since his parents died when he was a baby. But on his 11th birthday, everything changes. He finds out that his parents were a witch and a wizard and that he, himself, has been accepted to Hogwarts, a school for witchcraft and wizardry. He is thrilled to feel comfortable and welcome for the first time in his life, but he soon discovers that not all the teachers at Hogwarts are looking after his best interest. Can Harry and his adventurous friends save the Sorcerer’s Stone from being stolen and used for nefarious purposes?
Of course, you all know the answer to that question. If you don’t, then you probably aren’t interested in the answer and I’m surprised you’ve gotten this far into my review. Any comments I make about my appreciation for this book will fade in the wake of the raving of others. Therefore, I’ll only comment on the Jim Dale narration (which was the narration released in the US, but which is apparently no longer for purchase–I’m not sure if they intend on putting out a different narration? Releasing the Stephen Fry narration in the US would be a kind, generous, and profitable move!) Jim Dale did a pretty good job on the narration–If I didn’t already have a very set impression of what all the characters should sound like, then I’d have been much more happy with this rendition. Unfortunately for Dale, however, most anybody who would listen to this audiobook today already has a very set impression of how a centaur should sound and how to pronounce “Voldemort.” This isn’t Dale’s fault, but I suspect his reading has been taken off the market because of these issues. However, I was quite able to ignore this rather amusing issue and enjoy the audiobook. 🙂 I will continue with the rest of the Dale narrations.
My comments on book banning
Harry Potter is #1 Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009 AND #48 on 100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999. As several people commented, Harry Potter was banned for similar reasons as The Headless Cupid, which was my first Banned Books Week review. Parents are concerned that their (apparently not-very-bright and way-too-malleable) children will be driven to the darkside of the occult and Satan worship by this book. I’m afraid I have to disagree and say “that is hogwash.” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had a very clear good vs. evil message. Loyalty, bravery, and camaraderie are emphasized as important traits in the characters of Harry Potter. Love stands out as pretty much THE most powerful force of good available to humanity. That seems to be a pretty healthy message, even to a fundamentalist Christian. On the other hand, “doing ANYTHING to succeed in life” is portrayed as an undesirable characteristic. Killing or taking advantage of the innocent is touted as the most sinful act possible. People whose views of good and evil have faded away to “there’s-only-the-weak-and-the-powerful” are portrayed as demented. Again, the views of “evil” that are communicated in this book are in fitting with Christian views. This is NOT a morally ambiguous book! So why are the fundamentalists so worried? Just because their kids might use their imaginations a little bit?
2012 Book 102: The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller (7/8/2012)
Categories: Speculative Fiction, Award Winner
Reason for Reading: This book won the Orange prize this year.
My Review 5/5 stars
On the outside, this book is a retelling of Achilles’ actions in Troy; however, Miller has incorporated deeper elements to the well-known story. The Song of Achilles is a celebration of Achilles’ humanity, rather than of his God-like martial skills. It is a touching love story between Achilles and his companion Patroclus. It is a story of forgiveness for human flaws. And it shows the reader that sometimes the best part of the story is forgotten in legends. Above all, it’s one of those books that sucks you right in…and then leaves you breathless when it’s over. Although Song of Achilles is technically fantasy, it is also a book that can be enjoyed by literary snobs and by people who don’t know much about Greek mythology. I loved it.
2012 Book 38: The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis (2/26/2012)
Reason for Reading: Currently working through the Narnia series in publication order.
My Review: 5/5 stars
Eustace Scrubb ventures back to Narnia with his schoolmate Jill Pole. There they are sent on a mission to rescue Prince Rilian, who has been kidnapped by an evil witch. This is another lovely installment of the Chronicles of Narnia. Very cute.
2012 Book 19: Prince Caspian, by C. S. Lewis (1/30/2012)
Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy return to Narnia centuries after their departure to help Prince Caspian wrest the kingdom out of the hands of his tyrant uncle. A very cute story with a wonderful moral. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. I’m reading them in publication order, so this is the second book. 5/5 stars
Another attempt at reading some of the books I should have read as a child.