Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling – A Review

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Middle Grade | Fantasy | Classic Literature
Goodreads | Amazon
Published by Scholastic
Released June 26, 1997
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

I was eleven years old when the first Harry Potter book came out in the United States. I grew up with the series, eagerly awaiting each next book. When the 800+ page fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released, I read the entire book in a single day because I refused to do anything else. The series will always have a special place in my heart, and I hope that if I have children one day, I can pass that love onto them.

I’ve been wanting to reread this series for so long. I reread it once in my early twenties, and now that I’m in my early thirties, I thought it would be a good time to do so again. My house burned down when I was 19, so I lost all of my original copies, but I found this set on Amazon of the hardcovers that came in a cute trunk and purchased it.

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When I started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone this time around,I was worried that I might have outgrown it. These are middle-grade books from twenty years ago, after all. I needn’t have worried, however. By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked all over again and felt as intrigued and excited as I did when I was eleven and reading it for the first time.

I’m assuming you know what the plot of Harry Potter is, so I’ll jump straight into the review.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first and shortest book of the collection. It follows Harry and his new friends during their first year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

One of the first things I noticed on this reread was my absolute fury towards the Dursleys for the child abuse they constantly throw Harry’s way. When I read the book at eleven years old, I know this wasn’t something that I would have paid much attention to, as I was more focused on the magic and the creatures and wanting my own wand. As an adult, however, the level of abuse shook me. As a result, when Harry gets to leave and go to Hogwarts, despite the protests of his adopted family, I felt a wonderful sense of relief for him.

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The Harry Potter novels are the only books I’ve read by J. K. Rowling, but I’ve always loved the pacing of these books and her writing style in them. Nothing in the books is unnecessary or pointless fluff – every word matters. There’s also a great deal of foreshadowing that you might not pick up on during your first read through. That’s always a trait I love in books and it made the story move at a steady and fast pace.

The story is sad, funny, infuriating, and endearing all at once. Each character has their own distinct motivations and personalities that bring them to life. They’re courageous and imperfect, making plenty of mistakes along the way, but do the right thing in the end. I was reminded in this reread that Hagrid is one of my favorite characters, at least in this first book. His loyalty to Hogwarts and to Harry is wonderful and he’s so full of life.

I knew before reading this that I would be sticking with my rating of five stars. Its status as a modern classic is well-deserved.

This month I’m going to be picking up the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsI can’t wait to continue this journey!




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The J.K. Rowling Controversy, Explained

J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has been all over the news and social media sites this week due to statements she’s made regarding a sexual relationship between her characters Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald. Here’s a quick rundown on what exactly is happening.

The Statement

In a special feature for the Blu-ray release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, J.K. Rowling stated that Dumbledore and Grindelwald had an incredibly intense and sexual relationship, specifically, that “it was passionate, and it was a love relationship.

The Controversy

Nowhere in the Harry Potter or Fantastic Beasts books or films is the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald displayed. This has left many fans of the series feeling that J.K. Rowling is just playing lip-service to the LGBTQ+ community without doing anything to actually portray such a relationship. There has been a lot of public outcry on social media, particularly on Twitter (where there are now also some hilarious memes popping up), where she is being accused of queerbaiting. So far J.K. Rowling has not offered any commentary on the controversy.

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Other people are supporting J.K. Rowling’s statements, claiming that she’s the creator and can say what she wants:

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My Thoughts

As much as I love the Harry Potter universe and grew up with it, it’s not exactly a diverse cast of characters. I feel like these days, in a world that embraces diversity (and rightly should), J.K. Rowling is performing a retcon of her own work to make it more diverse. There’s nothing wrong with making her characters gay, but maybe she should have written that into the cannon or have it portrayed in the films. It wouldn’t be that hard to do, and this controversy wouldn’t exist. It’s important to respect diverse communities, and I don’t feel that J.K. Rowling is doing that.

What Do You Think?

I want to hear your take on all this. Let’s have a discussion down in the comments.

Banned Books, Part Five

September 23-29 is Banned Books Week, a week that promotes the freedom to read. Every day this week, I’ll be sharing three banned books that you should add to your TBR lists.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

 

 

The Witches by Roald Dahl

Beloved children’s authors are not exempt from having books banned. Some libraries considered the book misogynistic and sexist, feeling that it teaches boys to hate women.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

This classic novel was banned by schools and libraries for many reasons: promoting euthanasia, offensive language, racism, and being anti-business.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I remember hearing about all the controversies surrounding the Harry Potter series when I was growing up and still reading the series. Some schools and parents challenged and banned the book due to witchcraft, being anti-family and, my favorite, “setting bad examples.”

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on them?

Read part six of this series
Read Part Seven


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10 Picks from the Great American Read

PBS is hosting a new series centered around the 100 most-loved American novels, The Great American Read. The first episode is already available, and it’s running through October 23rd. The list is full of different genres, and everyone will be able to find some books on here that they’ll love. Here are my top 10 picks from the list, followed by 5 I’m immediately adding to my TBR list.

My 10 Top Picks

While it was extremely hard to limit this list down to only 10, some of my favorite books of all time are here.

  • I can’t remember who first introduced me to Douglas Adams, but I’ve read and re-read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy so many times I’ve lost count. Every single time I read it, it leaves me laughing so hard that I’m in tears. All of Adams’ books are incredible, but this will always be my favorite. Bonus: it contains some of my favorite quotes from any book that I’ve read:
    • “It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.”
    • “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”
    • “He was staring at the instruments with the air of one who is trying to convert Fahrenheit to centigrade in his head while his house is burning down.”
    • “It is a well known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
  • A dear friend of mine, Kathleen, gave me a copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale years ago. As I read it for the first time, it terrified me, because none of it seemed far-fetched. Keep in mind, this was almost ten years ago, so now it’s even more relatable, which is something no one should be proud of. I hope this book is required reading in all high schools.
  • I hated F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby when I read it in the 10th grade. Like, really, really, really hated it. I thought all of the characters were silly and unrelatable, and the book itself bored me to tears. Last year I was at the library and came across a copy, and since it’s a very short novel, I decided I’d give it a second chance. I’m so glad I did. There’s so much going on with this novel, and it paints the 1920s in such a vivid way. Fun fact: I used to work at The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, where Fitzgerald lived and worked for a while. It’s a beautiful place with a view that is unbelievably inspiring. I can’t blame him a bit for wanting to write from there.
  • Everyone has seen the movie by now (I hope), but I still recommend reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. As detailed as the films were, there was so much that they had to leave out. Tolkien was a master of world-building, and was also a linguist who put great effort into creating his fictional languages. For Christmas one year, I received a cloth-bound box set of The Lord of the Rings, with illustrations by Alan Lee, one of my favorite artists. It was my most-cherished possession until my family’s home burnt down a couple of years later, and I’ve been looking for that exact copy ever since with no luck.
  • I was 10 years old when J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came out. I literally grew up with the books, and was borderline obsessed with them. When the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released, I read the entire book in one sitting because I was so eager to find out what happened next.
  • Stephen King books were everywhere when I was growing up, as both of my parents like his books. The Stand is my absolute favorite. In fact, I would say it’s my second favorite book of all time, coming in just behind Cormac McCarthy’s The RoadMy genre-of-choice is post-apocalyptic, and King just knocked it out of the park with this novel. I do recommend reading the Complete and Uncut edition of the book, which adds over 500 pages that were edited out of the first release. It’s massive but well worth the effort.
  • My mother had a paperback set of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia books, and I read and re-read them so often that, by the time I entered high school, some of the pages were falling out and the spines were completely cracked. It was one of the first fantasy novels I read as a kid (aside from The Hobbit), and I was immersed in the world. I’m planning on re-reading it soon, and I’m looking forward to it so much.
  • Like so many others, I first read George Orwell’s 1984 in high school, right after finishing Animal Farm. I loved both, and I’ve re-read both several times, but 1984 strikes me as something that isn’t that farfetched (much in the same way as The Handmaid’s Tale). With privacy being stripped from us more and more as our technology increases, I think this is an incredibly relevant book.
  • While A Farewell to Arms is my favorite Ernest Hemingway book, The Sun Also Rises is right behind it, along with The Old Man and the Sea (click for my review).  Hemingway can be a polarizing writer, but he has a very unique, straight-forward style that I really appreciate. I also find myself feeling so much empathy for his characters.
  • Finally, we come to Andy Weir’s The Martian, which is a spectacular work of science fiction, both in print and on film. I’m a science geek, and I appreciated how much science Weir worked into the story. We don’t just read about what Mark Watney is doing, he explains to us why he’s doing it. It’s also just a well-written and fast-paced novel.  If you’re a fan of Star Trek, you’d love this book.

Again, there were so many other books on the list that are amazing, but those are my 10 favorites. Tomorrow, I’ll post a follow-up entry listing the five books that I’m most excited about reading from this list, as well as a few books that I think should be omitted from the list.  So, if you enjoyed this post, be sure to subscribe and check back for a more critical look at some of the books from the list.

Click here to read part two of this post.