Well, I've finally done it: pre-ordered Deathly Hallows, the final and seventh book of the Harry Potter saga due out July 21. Pre-ordering felt like a bit of a dilemma for me this time around, as I recalled oh so vividly checking and re-checking my mailbox for Half-Blood Prince on the day of its release. I'd pre-ordered from Amazon and the book didn't arrive until 2:00 pm. By then, I could have bought it (without even standing in much of a line) at a local store.
This year I decided to change tactics and pre-order from our local Borders. It's about twenty minutes away, so even if I don't make it to the midnight release party (doubtful if we can get a baby-sitter) I should be able to get it fairly early on Saturday morning. And then I plan to hole up for the rest of the day and read...well, as much as life allows for that. My dear hubby is very understanding, in part because he knows he won't get to read it until I'm finished anyway. I usually read it first and then read it aloud to him...it's sort of our tradition!
With book 7, I am more conscious than ever of wanting to make sure that I read it very early before I have any chance to hear any inkling whatsoever about what happens in the story. I will not go anywhere near the internet until I'm done, because I don't want to see any headlines akin to FRODO LIVES on the subways of old. And it goes without saying that I won't go over to the HogPro boards or any other forum (will there be another B&N reader's group moderated by John Granger, I wonder? It was such an amazing cyber-community last time...)
I had to chuckle when I finally ordered the book. The woman who took my order was effusive in her own anticipation over and delight in the series. I love that Rowling has helped create this kind of climate, where grown-ups can delight (out loud! without embarrassment!) over reading children's literature (or at least stories with young protagonists -- it's getting harder to call HP children's literature as the series progresses.) These are truly books for everyone.
Perhaps the most interesting part of my exchange with the saleslady came after I'd finished placing the order. She brought out the Snape stickers Borders is giving away to everyone who pre-orders: the bright purple flowery-star with "Snape is loyal" printed on it, and the bright orange flowery-star with "Snape will betray." And she told me I could choose. Without a moment's hesitation, I reached for the purple loyalty sticker. "This one," I said. "There's not a doubt in my mind...or, well, hardly any doubt." She smiled and informed me that adults were almost always picking the loyalty sticker, but that children thus far were mostly picking the betray sticker. Fascinating. Either JKR has hoodwinked all us grown-ups good, or else she has done a marvelous job of taking her primary audience of young readers along for the ride with Harry, so that they're fully and completely on his side and into his feelings at the moment. (Which I still argue is right where she wants us...)
I'm still enjoying my re-reading of the books and sharing musings back and forth with my friend Erin, who is also re-reading. I just finished re-reading Order of the Phoenix last week. Erin's in the same place. I find it interesting that both of us feel a bit reluctant to pick up Half-Blood Prince for the final time. We know the finish line is ahead, and while that's exciting, it's also a little sad. I was reflecting just the other day on how much I cried when I first finished Lord of the Rings oh so many years ago now. It wasn't so much that the ending was sad (though there were elements of that) but that I didn't want to leave Tolkien's world and the friends I'd made there. I've got similar feelings about Hogwarts and Harry.
And just this week, I've had two friends I hadn't heard from in a long while get back in touch with me because they're both anticipating HP 7 and knew I would be too. I love how beloved books bring people together!