I was in junior high when the first Harry Potter novel was released.
At the time, I was reading a pile of obscure fantasy titles as well as a smattering of the classics, ranging from Little Women to Gone with the Wind. I liked taking the Accelerated Reader tests which validated my difficult reading choices with an external reward system — thanks public school! However, I openly eschewed Harry Potter.
My brother started reading the books because his friends were, but eventually abandoned the endeavor when he had to wait for the newer books to be released. Patience is not his virtue. I, on the other hand, was content to completely snub the series in favor of my high brow literature. I also didn’t watch any of the Harry Potter movies until I was in my 20′s.
I staunchly chose to go against the grain when making my literary selections, and I was vocal about it. I was very much a fan of not reading things like Harry Potter, Twilight and The DaVinci Code — basically anything on the best seller list was garbage. This decision led to my longstanding love affair with Jane Austen, F Scott Fitzgerald and every obscure British fantasy novel I could find. It did, however, also cause me to be a bit of a rebel among my similarly book inclined peers and thereby unaware of the simplicity in enjoying literature simply for the sake of it — not searching for overarching metaphors and plot themes.
I was seeking definition in my literature choices. I wanted people to know I wasn’t typical, I knew different things, I had opinions! In the end, this obsession with literary elite-ness didn’t get me anything aside from a BA in English. But I wouldn’t change my stubborn decisions, because in a way it opened a lot of doors for me — and now, I am sitting in my small bedroom, in South Korea, reading Harry Potter for the first time.
It’s only taken me 25 years to realize that life is too short to read bad books. If you aren’t enjoying a novel, stop reading it! Stop trudging doggedly through Moby Dick and pick up The Hunger Games. Ahab will still be there when you feel strong enough to return (he also won’t judge you if you simply put him back on the shelf). But until then, get seamlessly lost in your imagination — the less effort it takes, the better. Don’t over-analyze, just be happy.
For the first time in a long time, I am just reading for fun; and I can’t recommend it enough!