Why the Harry Potter Books are Better


“Professor Strand, which is your favorite Harry Potter movie?” a student asked recently as class began.

“I’m sorry,” I replied, “did you ask, ‘which is my favorite Harry Potter BOOK?’”

“Oh, yeah, right. Which book,” she said, unfazed. A few students murmured their understanding of her error, but most simply waited to see how much class time the question would chew up (a favorite pastime of my students: baiting instructor into digressive pop culture conversation).

I wasn’t altogether surprised by her phrasing, as I had encountered the same movies-as-primary attitude in a college-aged Potter fan just a few weeks before, as I attended a collegiate Muggle Quidditch tournament. Seeking an understanding of the viability of Quidditch on its own terms, I had asked one of the players if everyone on her Quidditch team was a Harry Potter fan, or if some players simply played for love of the sport. She informed me most were indeed big Potter fans, but there were one or two players who, she said, despairing of their poor taste, “haven’t seen any of the movies!” (Their attention to the books: not mentioned.) [Read more…]

But Wait, There’s More! J.K. Rowling Releases New Harry Potter Story about Quidditch via PotterMore

It’s funny how some authors only want to distance themselves from their most popular creations, while others keep right on keeping on as long as there is one devoted fan still breathing. J. K. Rowling is apparently steering a middle course; she is at once writing novels for a very adult audience (I have decided The Casual Vacancy should be subtitled “How to be Really Preachy While Using all the Naughty Swears You Held Back While Fighting with Your Publishers”) and still tinkering with her Wizarding World through the new Fantastic Beasts film and her work with Pottermore. Her newest contribution is a piece on the history of the Quidditch World Cup. [Read more…]

Hold on to your Quaffles–Competitive Quidditch is Getting Serious

In 2005, I had the great pleasure of presenting at the Witching Hour in Salem, MA. It was my first national Harry Potter Conference. I loved the sessions I attended, though I was quite baffled by one item on the program: Quidditch. How, I thought, can they play Quidditch without flying? I was really interested in seeing this spectacle, and sorely disappointed when torrential rain cancelled the outdoor events. Since then, I have been delighted to see Quidditch played at other events, including Infinitus and Leaky-Con 2011. This wonderful, wacky, wizarding sport has grown beyond being a convention conversation piece, and the International Quidditch Association is seeking greater recognition, regulation, and revenue. Check out this great article on the growing legitimacy of Quidditch, and then share your Quidditch thoughts! Do you play or watch? Or, like me, do you just explain any injury you may be sporting as the result of a rough Quidditch match?
H/t to James and my college colleague John (who was asking today if I could hide my broom and wand in my graduation regalia).