I first read this book ten years ago, and I had vague memories about what it was like. And I didn’t remember the book 100% correctly, so it was nice to reread it. It inspired me a lot the first time I read it; I bought This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald and really tried to understand it. And this book got me into the Smiths. In retrospect it’s fun to discover how many of the other books mentioned I have read and that my friends are as into Rocky Horror Picture Show as Charlie and his friends! But it’s still as heartbreaking and tough to read as it was ten years ago.
I’m also curious about the film which will soon be released.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), Hary Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the first book I read in English. I had to borrow it in English at the library because the waiting list on the Norwegian version was too long. And since then I have preferred to read in English. I don’t know how many times I have read Harry Potter. I used to reread the books when the new one came out, and I know for sure that the last time I reread the series was in 2008.
While rereading the books now, I tried to figure out which book I like the most. It is a hard one. I know it’s not the two first ones, because they are too short. I think I have settled on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, because of the introduction of new characters, Hogsmeade and the Marauder’s Map. But both Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix could also be my favourite.
I realised how little I care for Harry Potter’s fight with Lord Voldemort, and how much I love the setting of the books. I love Hogwarts (the lessons, its history and the castle itself), Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. I have never really been fond of Harry himself, I prefer the other characters in the books, and especially Hermione and Dumbledore. And I found myself wanting more on the background history of everything in the books. Because of my thirsting for more, I will register at Pottermore, which is kind of creepy when you’re 28.
I never got the pleasure to read the books as a kid myself, I was probably fifteen or sixteen when I read the first book. I will therefore never know what it’s like to let myself be completely captured by the books. But I guess it would be equal to what it was like to read the Chronicles of Narnia; explore the old closet in my grandparents house and hope that it will lead to a secret world, to play out various characters with your friends in the forest on a moonlit winter night.
I do not care much for the films, and I still haven’t seen the final one. I don’t think they could ever do justice to the books. But I wouldn’t mind a tv series about everyday life at Hogwarts.
“The boy first. His name was Yusuf, and he left his home suddenly during his twelfth year. He remembered it was the season of the drought, when every day was the same as the last. Unexpected flowers bloomed and died. Strange insects scuttled from under rocks and writhed to their deaths in the burning light. The sun made distant trees tremble in the air and made the houses shudder and heave for breath. Clouds of dust puffed up at every tramping footfall and a hard-edged stillness lay over the daylight hours. Precise moments like that came back of the season.”Yusuf grew up on the East African coast. The man who Yusuf has
called his uncle lets him travel with him on his next journey. What Yusuf doesn’t know is that the man is a rich merchant and Yusuf is taken to settle his father debts. Yusuf starts working in a small shop somewhere by the sea, and then he gets to travel with the merchant to the interior regions to trade with the savages.
The story is set right before World War I or World War II, I’m guessing because of the increasing activity of German settlers. I’m also guessing that the story is set in Tanzania or Kenya because of the vague geographical clues. It is rich with details about the complex mix of people and culture in Africa, the traders are descendants of Arabic and Indian settlers and they bring with them Islam to the noble savages. The savages have their superstitions and traditions, and the book is full of stories about jinns and other strange creatures. And then there is the strange myths about the Europeans.
This book is great and beautiful. Some parts of it reminded me of A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul, but that is probably because it somewhat has the same setting. I recommend both. And I’m looking forward to read By the Sea by Gurnah.
After being released from the internment camps in Shanghai in 1945, Jim, a teenager, moves to England, a country he is unfamiliar with despite being English. He studies to become a doctor at Cambridge, but drops out. He goes to Canada to train as a NATO pilot, but is asked to leave after breaking the rules at the airbase. Back in England he settles in a small village called Shepperton with his wife and three children and starts to write books. But then his wife dies in a tragic accident in Spain. Jim is raising three children on his own while visiting the world of his more eccentric friends.
This is a part fictional, part autobiographical work where all the main events in J.G Ballard’s life are included. It is also a sequel to Empire of the Sun and the terrors of the war in Shanghai is ever present in Jim’s adult life. He never feels home in England, at least not until he becomes a father. He is also drawn to the darker side of life of his much more eccentric friends; testing LSD while being filmed, watching the making of a pornographic film which includes a girl and a dog, and staging an art exhibition about crashed cars.
I like how well Ballard writes about awful and perverse things. What I didn’t like about the book is that the first part of it was more or less a shorter version of Empire of the Sun but with a different angle. I’m glad it is some years since I read that book, so I didn’t remember the exact details.