Saturday, June 7, 2014

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Discussion [Summer Reading Challenge]

Hey, y'all! So, as you can see, I've finally gotten to my June series, Harry Potter! Since Harry Potter is my favorite book series and June is my favorite month (because my birthday is on the 10th!), I couldn't think of a better challenge to set myself in the month of June!

These Harry Potter posts will be formatted differently from the May discussion posts. I won't be writing non-spoiler sections for any of the Harry Potter books, simply because it's Harry Potter. If you haven't read the books already, go read them. At this point, there's almost no excuse for not having read the books except a lack of interest... in which case you probably wouldn't be here reading my discussion! I also will not be writing a summary of each book because, again, it's Harry Potter. If you don't know what Harry Potter is about, I'd really like to know what rock you've been hiding under because it sounds like an amazing place to get away and completely shut out all knowledge of the outside world.

Anyway, on to the discussion!

So, a little background. I first read Sorcerer's Stone in 5th grade. I can't fully remember when I first picked this up, but I know it was during the first half of 5th grade, because I have distinct memories of my first reads of books 3 &4 being during Christmas break. So, I can only assume that I picked this up sometime in the late fall of 2004. I've since read it several times, and I honestly wish I'd counted the times or recorded the dates. The only solid re-read I know the date of is July 2012, because I re-read the first 3 books while on a trip. Other than that, I have no idea when I re-read it or how many times for sure. I'd probably put it somewhere in the ballpark of 10. Maybe more, maybe less, but I think I've read it approximately 10 times. 

And yet, I was very surprised by several things about this book. Maybe it was because I went from reading the 725 monster, City of Heavenly Fire, in a single day to reading Sorcerer's Stone, but Sorcerer's Stone just feels way, way shorter than I remembered. It's only 310 pages! Normally, when I get to 50 pages left in a book, I get excited, because I'm hitting the home stretch, but with 50 pages left in Sorcerer's Stone, we still haven't even reached the part where the golden trio go on their quest to get the Sorcerer's Stone! 

I think the biggest shock to me was that the sorting ceremony was almost halfway through the book! That means that only the second half of the book is actually spent at Hogwarts. I don't know about you, but when I think about the layout of a Harry Potter novel, I often think of the events prior to returning to Hogwarts as just a short intro. But in Sorcerer's Stone, that "intro" is half the book! I guess my real point here is that everything about this book is a lot more condensed than I remembered it being. Also, kudos to JK for packing so much awesomeness into a mere 310 pages. Especially all that character development. Most authors couldn't do half the character development in a longer book than JK did in only 310 pages. 

My relationship with Sorcerer's Stone is an interesting one. There are some scenes and quotes that are among my favorite in the whole series, and possibly even among my all-time favorites. However, although I love this book and what it means to me, the rest of the stuff in between these scenes and quotes just isn't my favorite. Don't get me wrong, I still love this book- it was the gateway to the most influential series in my life- but the book just has some very high highs and some extremely mediocre (in terms of Harry Potter mediocrity, not true mediocrity) moments as well. 

For me, one of the best parts of Sorcerer's Stone is the humor. It's no secret that I have a deep love for the Weasley twins, and some of their best moments are within this book: toilet seat antics, hitting Voldemort in the face with snowballs, knowing their names are Gred and Forge, singing the school song at a funeral march pace with Dumbledore conducting, etc. We also get our first taste of Lee Jordan's hilarious quidditch commentary. Honestly, I'd read a whole series about the twins and Lee Jordan's antics at Hogwarts. 

One of my other favorite parts is the sequence where they go try to save the Sorcerer's Stone. That whole chapter is great, but my personal favorite is the room with the potions. I've always thought that one was the coolest of all of the tasks, and I've always been sad it didn't make it into the movie. I can understand now why it wasn't exciting enough to make it in, but it's still a bit of a bummer. 

So, let's talk rating. I'm going to go ahead and give it 5 stars out of 5. When I do a 10 star system on the wrap-up discussion, it probably won't get the full 10, but it deserves more than a 4 or 4.5.

Favorite Quotes

I'll be adding commentary on these since this post is really short so far...

Page 1: Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
The start of everything!

Page 13: "I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter Day in the future- there will be books written about Harry- every child in our world will know his name!"
If only JK Rowling knew that she was predicting the future with that quote!

Page 92: "Fred, you next," the plump woman said.
"I'm not Fred, I'm George," said the boy. "Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother? Can't you tell I'm George?"
"Sorry, George, dear."
"Only joking, I am Fred," said the boy, and off he went.
Our first glimpse at these great characters!

Page 118: "Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw, if you've a ready mind, where those of wit and learning, will always find their kind;"
As much as I consider myself to be rather solidly in the territory of being a Slytherclaw, if actually forced to choose, this is where I belong.

Page 128: Everybody finished the song at different times. At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing along to a very slow funeral march. Dumbledore conducted their last few lines with his wand and when they had finished, he was one of those who clapped loudest.
"Ah, music," he said, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here!"
This is legitimately quite possibly my favorite Harry Potter moment ever. You think I'm kidding. I'm not. It's perfect. I'm still mad this wasn't in the movie, regardless of how insignificant it really is.

Page 179: But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.
Where would this series be without Hermione Granger?

Page 188: "So- after that obvious and disgusting bit of cheating-"
"Jordan!" growled Professor McGonagall.
"I mean, after that open and revolting foul-"
"Jordan, I'm warning you-"
"All right, all right. Flint nearly kills the Gryffindor Seeker, which could happen to anyone, I'm sure, so a penalty to Gryffindor..."
Commentary is always spot-on.

Page 194: ... the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban.
Can we just appreciate the fact that the twins essentially are hitting Voldemort in the face with snowballs?! If only they knew how absolutely epic they were being...

Page 202: "You haven't got a letter on yours," George observed. "I suppose she thinks you don't forget your name. But we're not stupid- we know we're called Gred and Forge."
This whole scene is hilarious, but this quote is the crowning jewel of the scene. I reiterate: the twins are the best.

Page 214: "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."
I swear, some of the best HP quotes come from this book.

Page 278: "So light a fire!" Harry choked.
"Yes- of course- but there's no wood!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands.
Needless to say, the twins aren't the only Weasleys I love. Oh, Ron...

Page 287: "Books! And cleverness! There are more important things- friendship and bravery and- oh Harry- be careful!"
I'm still not convinced there are more important things than books or cleverness... but that's coming from someone who practically lived in the library throughout her childhood. I was besties with the librarian. Her name was Miss Kate. I sold her Girl Scout cookies. And I can still remember the layout of the books even though it's been more than 10 years since I've been in that specific library.

Page 298: "Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself."
Sirius-ly. Sorcerer's Stone has all the great quotes. (And now I've started into the HP puns. It's a downward spiral from here.)

So, there you go, that's all for this summer reading post! I hope you enjoyed it, because I definitely enjoyed making it. I could talk about Harry Potter ceaselessly for the rest of my life and never get bored. If you have questions, ask in the comments! I plan to get a regular series post up in the next few days... probably either a CDs On My Shelf or a Tumblr Challenge.

Thanks for reading! If you like my posts, don't forget to subscribe/follow, since it lets me know that you're enjoying what I'm doing. See y'all in a few days!

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