Janet Batchler over at Quoth the Maven has posted three questions about Harry Potter which she found originally on two other HP-related sites. It's a bit of a Harry Potter meme!
I posted my answers in Janet's comment section, but they got so long that I thought I'd post them here too.
1) How/when did you become a Harry Potter fan?
I came late to Harry Potter. Somehow I missed almost the whole, early phenomenon, maybe because I was in graduate school and didn’t yet have a child! I think it was probably not long after Goblet of Fire was released that I first began reading the series. A friend loaned me Sorcerer’s Stone, but loaned me a heavy dose of literary snobbery along with it (“well, you know, it’s not Tolkien”). I hadn’t heard of the religious concerns that had been voiced by some, so that wasn’t an issue, but I admit I went into the first book highly skeptical because I knew it was so popular. I figured anything that popular must be pandering to the lowest common denominator of its audience’s taste and intelligence (how’s that for cynicism?!).
I liked the first book but it wasn’t until a few months later that I really became a fan. By then I’d had my baby, and I was home a lot with her, nursing her and getting in lots of reading time. I picked up Chamber of Secrets thinking I would finally get around to reading the second book, since I had enjoyed the first more than I expected. Somewhere in the first few chapters of Chamber, something clicked in my heart and mind and I just fell in love with the story and its characters. I read the whole thing very quickly, then went out and bought POA and GOF almost immediately. By the time I’d finished POA, I was definitely a big fan. It’s still my favorite book in the series.
The last two books have been very different for me, because I’ve waited for them along with everybody else, taken part in reading groups and discussion forums, and also come to them with a background of reading some of the secondary literature that’s sprung up – especially John Granger’s work. I found his work very early because the librarian at our seminary, where I was then working, had met him and purchased his first book on HP for our collection. I gobbled that right up and it opened my eyes to deeper qualities in the books that have enriched my many re-readings.
2) What was your first reaction (physical and/or mental) when you read the scene in which Snape killed Dumbledore?
I wasn’t stunned that Dumbledore died, because I had expected that. I was stunned, however, by the identity of his killer.
I don’t know what made me weep harder (and I did weep, sitting there on my couch) watching along with Harry as his wise and beloved mentor was blasted off the tower, or watching Snape make what I then believed to be an irrevocable choice to turn back toward evil. I know everyone has theories and speculations galore about Snape and his allegiances, and I’ve had my share, but my FIRST and immediate reaction to the scene was the feeling that Snape, who had been given so many second chances and so much forgiveness by this gentle, gracious man, had finally given into the darkness that had always been a temptation for him and made a terrible choice. When Dumbledore said “Severus, please…” I really thought he was begging him not to make such a wrong and terrible choice.
As I’ve re-read the scene since, I think my tears often come at other moments than the actual killing, especially those moments where we see Dumbledore, so true to himself and his loving nature until the very end, offering dignified speech and tangible mercy to so many.
3) How/when will you read Deathly Hallows?
I’ve pre-ordered at a local bookstore, and actually hope to get to the midnight release party with my husband (if we can find someone willing to babysit that late). We’ve never gone to one, and we figure this is our last chance!
If we can’t make it to the party, we’ll go early the next morning and pick it up as soon as the store opens. I’ve asked for a “Harry Potter Day” as much as possible, with plenty of hours just to go somewhere quiet and read. I don’t know how realistic that is, but we’ll see.
After I read it once, I will start it again and read it aloud to my husband, as that’s been our pattern with pretty much every book. I only hope I can stop myself from talking about the book with him before we settle in for the read-aloud. I’m afraid I let slip way too many spoilers before we read HBP aloud. (Probably my weeping on the couch gave away lots all by itself!).
Would love to hear others' thoughts on these three questions!