Stephen's Reviews > Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
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Dec 04, 13

bookshelves: 1990-1999, ya, fantasy, potteresque, comfort-food
Read from May 29 to 31, 2012

On my list of reasons why my daughters are the bestest thing to ever happen to me, Number 14,577 is that they gave me, at 41 years old, the perfect excuse to revisit the Harry Potter series.

When my oldest angel told me she wanted to start reading the Harry Potter books, I couldn’t have been happier. As I was collecting all seven volumes off the shelf to bring up to her room, I started feeling nostalgic for the whole Hogwarts gang, and I realized that I’d never done more than a perfunctory review of this first volume. I figured it was high time to rectify that oversight.

Harry deserves it.

However, with over a million ratings, and almost two reviews for every day I’ve been alive, I think I can dispense with any plot distillation or character profiles. It has all been eloquently said before. Therefore, I just want to briefly express what I see as the essential magic at the heart of the series, and why I think it has resonated so strongly with so many people.

Here goes...

Only rarely does a story come along that can so completely wrap you up in a warm blanket of contentment and good feelings. One that can hold at bay, even if only for precious moments, the nasty brutishness of what often passes for daily life. These stories do that.

It’s an escape into a world of optimism, honor, and hope, where things always look hopeful and anything is possible. Who wouldn't want to hang around in a place like that, especially when it is decorated with sorting hats, kindly giants, magic wands and Quidditch.

Granted...no aspect of the story is revolutionary, or even particularly noteworthy, from the standpoint of blazing new trails within the fantasy genre. It isn’t great literature, and nothing about its technical merits makes it befitting of even a fraction of its unprecedented success.

Fine...acknowledged. And? So what!

The virtue of this story is the postive feelings it conjures in its readers. Harry’s story is something that radiates acceptance, inclusion, and friendship. It invokes a sense of belonging. Inside these pages, you can find the impetus to see the better angels of humanity’s nature, and feel just a little better about the world around you.

How is that not worthy of praise?

As for Harry himself, he’s just a good kid. The quintessential everyman who makes good. A loving boy with a clear head on his shoulders and a caring heart that pumps affection for the world around him. He’s someone you can’t help but like.

He’s not perfect. He makes mistakes, he’s occasionally short sighted, and I know many of us wish he would stick up for himself a little more. Maybe reduce his aunt and uncle to a pair of fatty stains on the carpet, or give Dudley an atomic wedgie until his skivvies scrape against his pancreas.

But that’s not Harry. He’s a better person than that. That’s why we love him.

Maybe all of the above is a bit much. Like I said, I was feeling nostalgic and maybe the gush got a tad away from me. Let’s just say that these stories are perfect comfort food and reading them will make you happy.

I’ll certainly settle for that.

As for the rating, I Initially only gave this first volume 3 stars, and I’m not going to change that now. As much as I love the series as a whole, I don’t think it reaches stratospheric heights until Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Still, this is where it all began. As such, it should be read and savored knowing that it only gets better.

3.0 stars. Highly Recommended.
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Comments (showing 1-42 of 42) (42 new)

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message 1: by Hend (new)

Hend Great review Stephen !

especially the first part,u talking about your angel
(both are very cute and lovely)....

What is better than living in this magical world where u can do whatever u want ....

i love Harry Potter....:)


message 2: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Chavez Love it, love it, love it. Grand review old chap. I am still yet to read this series... ::gasp::... I know I know... It will happen, and when it does I'm sure it will be great. But first I need to collect all the UK release hardbacks. That's the goal I set for myself before reading it. I have so many books I want to read that setting this goal, paired with the time it will take to get said hardbacks, will make the anticipation to read them build to epic proportions.


Catie I can't wait to read these to my girls. Just a few more years!


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways It’s an escape into a world of optimism, honor, and hope, where things always look hopeful and anything is possible. Who wouldn't want to hang around in a place like that, especially when it is decorated with sorting hats, kindly giants, magic wands and Quidditch.


Yuh-huh. As always, very high quality stuff.


Brenda My son and I are reading through the Harry Potter series, and are on Goblet of Fire now. In fact, I just did a post about it on my blog yesterday. :)


Regina I have a very (clever in my opinion) parenting technique in my house -- I ask my kids, "Would Hermione do that?" or "Would Harry do that?" or the worst, "Isn't that something Draco would do?"

Works like a charm. I love Harry Potter. :)

Great review.


Seak (Bryce L.) I have a two year old and twin girls on the way and I just can't wait to read with them. I already started collecting things like The Phantom Tollbooth, The Neverending Story, and of course I already had the Harry Potter series. :)

Also, I agree with the rating. This was a great and magical beginning to a wonderful series, but not nearly as good as the last 4.


Erin Awww. Even reading your review filled me with happy Harry Potter feelings, that's how strong the optimistic power of this book is!

And Regina, that is a hilarious and brilliant parenting technique. I think if someone told me I was acting like Draco I would never misbehave in that way again. :)


Regina Thanks Erin. :) Its power diminishes, so it has to be handed out carefully, lol.

JK Rowling is brilliant. :)


Stephen Hend wrote: "Great review Stephen !

especially the first part,u talking about your angel
(both are very cute and lovely)....

What is better than living in this magical world where u can do whatever u want ......"


Thanks, Hend.


Stephen Anthony wrote: "Love it, love it, love it. Grand review old chap. I am still yet to read this series... ::gasp::... I know I know... It will happen, and when it does I'm sure it will be great. But first I need to ..."

Thanks, Anthony. Looking forward to your reaction to this series, Anthony.


Stephen Catie wrote: "I can't wait to read these to my girls. Just a few more years!"

This series is like the gift that just keeps on giving.


Stephen Brenda wrote: "My son and I are reading through the Harry Potter series, and are on Goblet of Fire now. In fact, I just did a post about it on my blog yesterday. :)"

I love it. Hopefully, we will catch up before too long.


Stephen Seak (Bryce L.) wrote: "I have a two year old and twin girls on the way and I just can't wait to read with them. I already started collecting things like The Phantom Tollbooth, The Neverending Story, and of course I alrea..."

You have good times ahead of you, my friend. Enjoy them.


Stephen Regina wrote: "I have a very (clever in my opinion) parenting technique in my house -- I ask my kids, "Would Hermione do that?" or "Would Harry do that?" or the worst, "Isn't that something Draco would do?"

Wo..."


Love the parenting technique, Regina. Is there anything that HP can't do?


Stephen Erin wrote: "Awww. Even reading your review filled me with happy Harry Potter feelings, that's how strong the optimistic power of this book is!.."

Thanks, Erin, I'm glad you liked it.


Sally I read aloud the entire series to my kids (now 22 and 20), even into their teen years, and they "grew up" with Harry, Hermione, and Ron. We went to every midnight release of books and movies. It is a bond that I treasure deeply - this series is powerful for so many things other than the words on a page. Seriously ~ bonding time together with tween or teenage kids in such a positive way? Priceless.


Benjamin Thomas I also read the entire series to my two children as they grew up with the series. And now my daughter (age 23) is a budding fantasy novelist (with a degree in archeology)


message 19: by Mike (new)

Mike Your great review brings back memories of proudly watching the kids dive into every new addition to the series. Then going to see the movie version. I have all the books saved on a shelf for the eventual transfer to grandkids as I suspect the series will remain a must for kids.


Stephen I LOVE HARRY POTTER! :D I hope your daughter enjoys the books!


Dyuti I love Harry potter and I loved your review. In fact I'm currently listening to the audiobooks by stephen fry (even though I know the lines by heart I've read the books so many times) but its another great experience... I'm loving it... And I do hope one day I can share the feel good charms of Hogwarts with my own kids...


Katrina Welsh Such a fantastic review of an even more fantastic series. You couldn't have put it into better words the pure joy and love that readers share, and continue to, with each other because of this series. I can not wait to share the stories of Harry and his friends with my own children and reminisce about all the good times...


Brittany B. 3 stars??? Ruthless man!
But you are very right that the Goblet of Fire is the pinnacle of the series. (though I did adore book 3: HP and the Prisoner of Azcaban)
Stephan if you've never listened to this in audio, you absolutely must try it. It's the best audio performance I've had. I read, listened to, and watched the movie for them all. The audiobooks of parts 1, 3, and 4 are truly spectacular!


message 24: by Rickey (new)

Rickey Really enjoyed your review, especially since I'm from a part of the country where people have forbidden their kids from reading it or having any Harry Potter toys since it has to do with witches. I personally know some that have! And I've read it as well.


message 25: by Lewis (new)

Lewis Weinstein Great review ... I've only read #1 ... perhaps I'll try an audio of Goblet of Fire.


message 26: by mark (new)

mark monday great review. love the series, but definitely agree with the 3 stars on this one. i may have even given it 2 stars. but it just gets better & better & better and about halfway through i realized that this is one of my all-time favorite series. i laughed, i cried...


Sally The audiobooks are fantastic - I DID read the books aloud to my kids, but we also listened to the audio versions on long trips. (Yeah, we're a little HP crazy in my household.) We listened to the Jim Dale versions, and he did a SUPERB job.


message 28: by Shovelmonkey1 (new)

Shovelmonkey1 I'm still not reading these. Although I may topple one day but it will not be today!


Joyce Couldn't agree more! Warm and nostalgic - that's exactly how the Potter series make me feel...


Brittany B. Stephen, seriously? This book is epic. I bet you had already seen the movie...


Erin ♥ (Paperback Stash) I'm one of the only readers left who hasn't read this yet. Wasn't my thing and I didn't like the small tidbit I read from my sons book a few years back. Have now seen the movies and dig the stories now, though, so picked up the first book for reading.


message 32: by Christian (new) - added it

Christian "3.0 stars. Highly Recommended. " Contradiction?


Allan Fisher Me too. I'm reading this again to my boys...


Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali Reading your review gave me the warm and fuzzy feels. I think I might download the lot to my iPod. Jim Dale does a phenomenal job with the voices. its magic, actually.


Ivori Cummings lol


Barbara  Luxford What a wonderful commentary and I seen this book through new eyes!
Thank you


Sarina "The virtue of this story is the positive feelings it conjures in its readers."

I think you nailed it, why we love this series so much!
Hats off to you for a worthy review of this worthy book...


Marni If you liked it that much why did you only give it three stars?


Susan again, just curious, did you read the Vertigo comics The Books of Magic?


MA GAMER (max aitel) to brenda: allready!!!!!!!???!?!!!!!!!!!!!!?!???!!?!?!??!?!?!?!!?!!?! The golblit of fire?!???!!!!!!!!


Gheeta nice review, I concur.


message 42: by Katie (new) - added it

Katie Smolkovich I agree. I wouldn't consider it classic lit either but it's sonething enjoyable.


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