Some thoughts on Harry

A couple of months ago I read The King’s English by Betsy Burton, which is about an independent bookstore in Salt Lake City, and which I mostly enjoyed. I can’t remember now why I wasn’t completely enamored of it, but I did enjoy it overall. At the very least, it gave me lots of get lots of reading recommendations. In fact, it’s possible that some of my recent interest in poetry comes from the enthusiasm the author showed for some of her favorite poets.

When I was reading it, I lost interest a little bit somewhere in the middle, but I stuck with it because I kept hoping for a chapter on children’s literature. And when I got to it, I was entranced. I wish there had been more chapters on their children’s department. She talked about some of their favorite author appearances and some of their favorite children’s books over the years. And then, of course, she talked about Harry Potter. She told the story of how they hadn’t been told about some of the paperwork they needed to sign, which meant they didn’t get their copies of Goblet of Fire on time, and how they had to resort to buying them from Barnes and Noble and Wal-Mart and Costco and selling them at their own store. (And when I realized just a couple of weeks ago that I hadn’t been told about the proper Harry Potter paperwork and that there was a chance that we might not get them on time here at the library, I got a little panicky, but it appears that all is well on that front for us . . . since some of the books are already in.) As she talked about all the kids lined up and how exciting it was to give each of them their own copy, I got teary-eyed. We’ve been to Barnes and Noble (what can I say, our independents have all closed down) for the past two release parties, and I have gotten emotional each time. There’s just something about seeing those kids so excited about a book – a thick book, at that – that really gets to me. Even writing about it now makes me choke up a little bit. I don’t work in the children’s department here, and I don’t have any kids of my own, so maybe I am overly romanticizing the Harry Potter phenomenon, but it has been a really special thing for me to see. I have always had friends who were readers, but at the same time, I often felt as if no one understood how important reading is to me, that it’s as essential as breathing, that some of the characters I have met in books feel like close personal friends. Some of my books even feel like close personal friends because of the things we’ve been through together. Maybe that sounds strange to you, but those kids who stay up until midnight just to get a copy and then tear through it the next day? They get it. And I love them for it.

So, we’ll be at Barnes and Noble on Friday night, the night of our anniversary. We’re staking out our table as early as we can and bringing supplies (last time we got really thirsty, but the line was way too long for the cafe) and planning on having a grand old time. And, yes, I will probably cry. Not when I get the book in my hands (although, if this is anything like the past two books, I will cry at some point while reading it . . . and besides, I already held it in my hands here at work), but when I see the kid who’s dressed like Harry or the girl who’s dressed like Hermione and I see their faces light up at the games and their excitement when we all finally get to line up and the way they grin when they finally get their hands on their own copy . . . yeah, I’m going to cry then. I’ll try to hide it, and everyone will be too polite to mention it, but I guess, after all, there are worse things to cry over than a book.

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