Books #48 & #49: Harry Potter’s School Books (2001)

Fantastic_beasts Quidditch_Through_the_Ages
Book #48: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
Author: “Newt Scamander” (J.K. Rowling)
Language: English
Length: 42 pages
Book #49: Quidditch Through the Ages
Author: “Kennilworthy Whisp” (J.K. Rowling)
Language: English
Length: 56 pages
Read on: 2 Feb 2014

JK Rowling released these Harry Potter tie-in books for Comic Relief back in 2001, and I found the copies in Shibuya’s Book Off in January. I think they’ve also been rereleased later on as a set with The Tales of Beedle the Bard, another tie-in book which was a set of short stories that would have been told to wizard children.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any other Potter books, but these books are super short and easy to read, and give us a glimpse at the kind of detail and research that has gone into Rowling’s world. A lot of the beasts in Fantastic Beasts, in particular, are taken from other sources, and while it’s very easy to dismiss Rowling for this for “copying” other people’s work, it became clear when reading this that she had put in a lot of research about other existing beings and then added a few of her own invention.

With the book about Quidditch, it’s more obviously Rowling’s own design, but the history and the alternative broomstick games have been given a convincing narrative, and in an almost satirical move, she gave America an alternative game.

On that same note, there’s a lot more discussion of other countries in her world, which only happened a little bit in the main novels, when the European characters come over for the tournament. I liked that a lot.

On a slightly different note, Rowling has been in the news a bit recently talking about Harry Potter, saying that she regrets hooking up Ron and Hermione and saying it was wish fulfillment… although if her book isn’t wish fulfillment, what is it? It seems a bit of a strange proposition to me that an author’s book should be anything but their own wish fulfillment. And of those three, I’m kind of glad that she didn’t make it a love triangle and I think Ron and Hermione were the best pair to hook up… that is, if they have to hook up in the first place.

While I’m discussing the relationships in Harry Potter, I’m still disappointed about Dumbledore not being mentioned as gay in the book itself. The subtext was indeed there, but it was definitely too subtle for me to notice. In the past seven years since I read the last book, I’ve gotten better at noticing that sort of subtext and reading between the lines, but at the time I was reading through it quite quickly and only paid scant attention to Dumbledore’s relationship. And it’s incredibly disappointing that she clearly thinks of him as the only non-straight character in the whole series.

Anyway, these two books are fun, and worth reading of an afternoon.

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One Response to Books #48 & #49: Harry Potter’s School Books (2001)

  1. Laura Harris says:

    Speaking as a writer, I think you have to strike a balance between realism and wish fulfilment. And of course with fantasy series such as HP you have to ask your readers to suspend disbelief in things like magic, but the essence of humans will not change whatever situation you put them in, so characterisation is where you shouldn’t do wish fulfilment. I think when JK said Ron/Hermione was wish fulfilment she was thinking in terms of the realism of their characters getting along permanently rather than the general wish fulfilment of magic school etc. A good book should not be sheer wish fulfilment, there must be realism within it too. However I must agree that it was the right choice not to make a love triangle. I also like to think that Ron grew up a lot from his teenage version, which I think is shown in Deathly Hallows.

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