The shouting and the echoes seemed to be driving the troll berserk. It roared again and started towards Ron, who was nearest and had no way to escape.
Harry then did something that was both very brave and very stupid: he took a great running jump and managed to fasten his arms around the troll’s neck from behind. The troll couldn’t feel Harry hanging there, but even a troll will notice if you stick a long bit of wood up its nose, and Harry’s wand had still been in his hand when he’d jumped — it had gone straight up one of the troll’s nostrils.
Howling with pain, the troll twisted and flailed its club, with Harry clinging on for dear life; any second, the troll was going to rip him off or catch him a terrible blow with the club.
Hermione had sunk to the floor in fright; Ron pulled out his own wand — not knowing what he was going to do he heard himself cry the first spell that came into his head: ‘Wingardium Leviosa!’
The club flew suddenly out of the troll’s hand, rose high, high up into the air, turned slowly over — and dropped, with a sickening crack, on to its owner’s head. The troll swayed on the spot and then fell flat on its face, with a thud that made the whole room tremble.
The common room was packed and noisy. Everyone was eating the food that had been sent up. Hermione, however, stood alone by the door, waiting for them. There was a very embarrassed pause. Then, none of them looking at each other, they all said ‘Thanks’, and hurried off to get plates.
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.
(Source: J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, paper back edition, Bloomsbury 2004, ISBN 978-0-7475-7447-7.)
This fragment of the first book of the Harry Potter series shows what I love so much about it. There’s action, so vividly described as if you’re there yourself. There’s emotion and feelings, which are mostly not described in words. Instead, as a reader I feel these emotions because of the actions the characters perform. And then there’s humor. A very subtle, but nevertheless very effective sort of humor. Who would ever think of describing the start of a friendship the way J. K. Rowling does in the last sentence of my fragment? I think it’s brilliant.
So needless to say, I’m very glad that two years ago, Ruud introduced me to the first book of Harry Potter. That’s right, before that, I had never read as much as a word J. K. Rowling had written. I saw the first movie once, a long time ago, and thought it was brilliant. I really wanted to see the others as well, but I decided I wanted to read the books first. After all, by reading I could use my own imagination, which is often so much more powerful than the special effects of a movie. But somehow, I never managed to read them. Ruud thought that was outrageous, so after a month of dating, he bought me my first Harry Potter book. And not the Dutch translation, but the original language, because, as he states: ‘If a reader masters the language, he should always read the book in its original written language, to be able to fully capture the meaning of the book.’ I like that philosophy. So two years ago, I finally read my first Harry Potter book. And I really liked it, don’t get me wrong, but still I couldn’t get myself to read the other books. I didn’t read at all back then, actually. I couldn’t find the inner peace to just grab a book and drown in it for a few hours.
That’s why I created goal no. 70: Read 25 novels. I was longing to read again, just like I did as a child. Opening a book and not noticing the hours tick by, finding myself in a complete different world, fantasy worlds where anything can happen. I wanted to continue reading Harry Potter. But I wanted to feel the complete experience. If I would start with the second book now, so much would be forgotten from the first. After all, it had been two years since I’d read it. So I decided to start over. I reread the first book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. And the experience was even greater than the first time I’d read it. It may have had something to do with the fact I already knew some major events that were going to happen in the book. By rereading it, I noticed subtle clues in the beginning of the book, that you would miss if you’re reading it for the first time. I think you’re a brilliant writer if you’re able to let your readers experience and discover new things each time they read your book. What I also find very astonishing, is that J. K. Rowling introduces so many things in the first half of the book that don’t seem to be connected to the main story at all: Harry talking to a snake in the zoo, collecting his money at Gringotts bank, buying a wand, eating weird enchanted sweets, playing Quidditch, to name a few. At first, these things just seem to describe the world of wizards, so as a reader you can really see this world before your eyes. And as much as it does that, in the end all these things seem to have another meaning as well. Some as a clue, some as the development of a necessary ability and some even only become clear in a different book entirely. J. K. Rowling must have had the complete story in her mind already, while writing the first book. She refers multiple times to books she had not even written at the time. That’s amazing. I admire her truly.
The book took me only two days to finish, and it left me eager to read on in the second one. I think I’m finally struck with the spell of the Harry Potter books. In fact, I know I am. I finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on February 25 and now I’ve already progressed to the sixth book! So a lot more reviews are to come the following days, if I’m able to put away my book, that is.