Tag Archive | Harry Potter

Great American Read 1-5

The voting is over, and the Great American Read has been selected. Today I’ll give my hot take on the top five books, and I’m assuming you have at least a minimal understanding of the plot. Spoilers abound.

#5 The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

They’re overrated sausage fests with the occasional woman. But the women are all fucking problematic, especially Eowyn. Eowyn kills the witch king, in a pretty badass scene, and she does have the “I am no man” line BUT she’s only there because she’s following around a man who doesn’t love her in hopes that he will one day. Also, they’re so fucking long because Tolkien loved Norse mythology so a fucking death scene takes like twenty pages. I happen to hate the books, but tons of people love them. I believe that it genuinely earned its place in the top five.

#4 Pride and Prejudice

So I have a complicated relationship with Pride and Prejudice, because I read it instead of Sense and Sensibility or vice versa. Regardless, I read the wrong book in college, and had to read the correct book in a single night so I could do the assignment. I looked like an idiot in class, too, for bonus points. I love a lot of media based on P&P, though, and I think I need to give it another chance. But I’m not sure if this is here because people legit love P&P or if they think they’re supposed to.

#3 Harry Potter series

I totally buy this. It’s a complex, well written series that turned a generation of kids into readers and their adults (including me) into YA readers. It’s been twenty years and my daughter started a Harry Potter club, is going to be Hermione for Halloween, and is having her second Harry Potter themed birthday in a row. This isn’t just a book series, it’s a phenomenon that no one is ready to leave, because it’s for Always.

#2 Outlander series

My hot take is that it scored so high because of the tv show. I think it would always have scored high because the series is very popular. But #2? That’s inflation caused by the tv show (which, don’t get me, I watch and love). But I buy it a hell of a lot more than #1.

#1 To Kill a Mockingbird

Seriously? This won because people think they should love this book. I mean, it’s okay. I read it like three times in jr. high and high school (I moved a lot), and for a while it was even my “favorite book” when I was like fifteen. But even then, while I made the claim, there were books I liked way better but was embarrassed to admit that I did. With perspective–it’s an overrated book.

What’s your hot take? Thoughts, opinions?

Problematic Harry Potter

A friend and I were recently talking about Harry Potter. She, like me, is reading book one to her almost seven year old. I’m also reading book five with my almost ten year old.

Harry Potter is twenty years old. And in some ways, it’s showing its age.

There is a ton of fatphobia that might or might not be okay today. I say might or might not as fat phobia is alive and well today. What do I mean by fat phobia? Many of the villainous people in the books are described as fat as shorthand for lazy, greedy, mean, and evil. The Dursleys, Aunt Petunia, and Delores Umbridge are some of the characters described this way.

The racial representation is…not good. You have the Patels, Lee Jordan, Cho Chang, and a few other background characters are people of color. Ron, Harry, and Hermione are all white, canonically. Yes, a black actress played Hermione in Cursed Child, but that’s colorblind casting, not a sudden reversal of cannon. The movies are even worse, as you can see below. Just over six minutes of speaking time for people of color in eight movies.

Hermione is a white savior. She never asks or listens to the House Elves. She just decides she knows what’s best, and starts S.P.E.W., or the Society for the Prevention of Elvish Welfare. In book five, she even leaves hats and socks around the Gryffindor common room so that an elf might pick it up and be freed. The Hogwarts House Elves are, in fact, so angry about this that they refuse to clean the common room, and the only reason that it gets cleaned is because Dobby does it out of love for Harry Potter. Yes, there is abuse–Dobby and Kreacher are both victims of abuse. But it’s problematic when someone decides that they know what’s best for a class of people without consulting them–sort of what men are doing to women’s reproductive health.

Hermione does so much emotional labor for Harry and Ron. For the love of god, boys, do your own fucking homework for a change, for one. Y’all would be dead without Hermione.

There is still a LOT of good in the HP books, and I identify as a Ravenclaw. But it’s inappropriate to give something a pass just because you like it.