Becky'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 06, 10

bookshelves: owned, 2010, fantasy, favorites, highly-recommended, multi-dimensional, young-adult, reviewed
Read from July 03 to 11, 2010

I wasn't sure if I was going to write a review of these books, but I try to write a review of all of the books that I read, and it's been kind of nagging at me that I didn't write one for this. It's hard to write a review for a book that is so dang popular and well known. What is there to say that's new? I dunno. I think pretty much everything's been said, but still I wanted to write a review for this, and to talk about these books, even if I'm just rehashing everything that's already been done.

I remember when these first came out, I never really wanted to read them. I thought of them as "kid's books" and even though I read YA, my overly-critical half just kept saying that these weren't for me. I don't know if it was the cover, or the insta-popularity of the books or what, but I didn't read them. I avoided them like the plague. Until a friend of mine was reading the 5th book, and was so engrossed in it that he would do the "...yes, yes, I'm paying attention..." nod while his eyes remained glued to the page. And as a reader myself, I know that look. So I asked to borrow the book he was reading, and he refused. He told me that if I was going to read it, I'd have to READ it, starting with the first book. So the next day, he lent me the first and second books, both of which I finished in record time, and then I understood. And I never looked back.

There's something about these books that is just... magical. Yeah, yeah, cliche, I know. But it's true. Yes, they are about magic, but they are about so much more than that. They are about love, and friendship and loyalty and trust and betrayal and commitment and all the things that we aspire to have and to be as humans. They are about understanding and forgiveness and learning who we are when it really matters. And all of these things are buried in this shell of fun and adventure and mystery that makes them irresistible.

I decided to read these again in the original UK editions, because I know that the US editions were "Americanized", and I wanted to re-experience them in their true form. I dislike when things are changed from their original format, I hate abridgments and condensed versions etc. I want to experience the story how the author wrote it, how it was meant to be experienced without some guy in a suit somewhere trying to make it "accessible" to me. I like the feeling that I get of learning something of another culture through the words they use, and the meaning that they give the words. This is why they taught us reading comprehension in third grade, so that we can read and LEARN. Learning doesn't have to be boring and tedious, it can be fun if we allow it to be. But it seems that we've lost that ability. Sad.

Anyway, I re-read the first book, now appropriately titled "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", and I was surprised at how emotional I felt reading it, especially after knowing where it all ends. It was like seeing friends that you've missed for years again, and while it makes you happy to see them, it's also sad because you know they'll have to go again too soon. That's how I felt, like I was seeing friends and that my time with them is short. That's kind of a silly way to feel, because they are forever, and I can visit anytime I want to, but I felt that way anyway. Especially meeting Ron again. He's my favorite character for an absolute reason, which is because he is so loyal and funny and true, and he gives his whole heart when he gives it at all. I wish that there were more people like Ron.

I can't wait to re-read the rest of the series and see if this feeling remains. I love discovering the hidden gems that Rowling has left for us to find, in mythology and history and legend and word-play and in life. Who wouldn't love these books?
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Reading Progress

07/03/2010 page 1
0.0% "I've missed this series! I'm really looking forward to this re-read!" 1 comment
07/03/2010 page 125
38.0% "I ♥ the Weasleys. :D"
07/03/2010 page 200
60.0% 4 comments
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Comments (showing 1-43)




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Fiona Your book has more pages then mine. Hmm odd - I think I much prefer the UK Children's page lay out. We have both here.


Becky Aren't the children's editions bigger?


Allison (The Allure of Books) Great, great review. A+.


Becky Allison (The Allure of Books) wrote: "Great, great review. A+."

Thanks Al! :)


Fiona Anyway, I re-read the first book, now appropriately titled "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", and I was surprised at how emotional I felt reading it, especially after knowing where it all ends. It was like seeing friends that you've missed for years again, and while it makes you happy to see them, it's also sad because you know they'll have to go again too soon. That's how I felt, like I was seeing friends and that my time with them is short. That's kind of a silly way to feel, because they are forever, and I can visit anytime I want to, but I felt that way anyway. Especially meeting Ron again. He's my favorite character for an absolute reason, which is because he is so loyal and funny and true, and he gives his whole heart when he gives it at all. I wish that there were more people like Ron.

This is so how I felt. Especially in the first book - starting the series again after such a long time it felt like such a huge emotional release. I felt really close to tears reading this book - Harry was so young and then as it goes on he grows up so much. I'm just reading the 7th book now and...

I feel like HP is living within me if you know what I mean. I love meeting all the characters - it's like a family reunion. And then of course everything and everyone had added importance because I knew what'd be happening to them right to the end.

I feel myself wanting to wish them luck - I feel proud of them. I feel sad for them.

As you say - I love the huge, huge, huge moral story that is in these books all about love and friendship, honour, trust, forgiveness... it's got such a huge range of emotions that feel so real. I think HP series has and will help many people who have suffered from loss, grief, depression.

I'd account some of the happiest memories of my childhood to Harry Potter. I feel so good reading these again, like everything else is lifted away.


Maciek You mean they actually changed something in the text of the US editions ? I thought that the only change was in the title.

And if I remember correctly the first volume of Potter was bashed by some critics, most notably Harold Bloom. The guy said something to the effect of "well it's bad because it's not Carrol or Grahame, doh!"

I'm still amazed at the rags-to-riches journey Rowling so quickly underwent. If you're currently re-reading you notice all the little details that make sense only with the knowledge of the whole mythology. For a beginning writer and her first published output it's something truly spectacular.


Becky Maciek, yes, there were quite a few things changed, just in the first book alone, and I want to say that it is the least Americanized of the bunch of them. Nothing that's really huge, just "jumper" to "sweater", car "trunk" to "boot", etc, but even those little things tend to separate us from other cultures. I think that this kind of thing contributes to why Americans are so disliked - they (we) have no concept of anything outside ourselves because everything is conformed to us rather than expecting us to make the adjustment. It just annoys me. I know why they do it, but I don't agree with it being done. What's wrong with expanding our horizons a little bit?

And I've seen Harold's "critique" of Harry Potter, and even left a comment on the version of it on Goodreads. My favorite part was how he mentioned Tolkien as preferable to Harry Potter, yet misspelled "Tolkien" two out of the three times he mentioned him. Love it. He's stuck in the past, and isn't fit to critique books when he can't even correctly spell the author's name.

Anyway, I don't mean to rant! LOL


Becky Oh, and yes, I've noticed the mythological aspects of the books... I've read them each (excepting the last) several times, and I love finding those little easter eggs! :)


Elizabeth (Miss Eliza) Yeah, I also noticed the subtle differences, more in the earlier books than the later, but they're still there. As for the adult vs. children, they're the same, just laid out differently.


Heather Great review, Becky!


Maciek Wow, I'm surprised. That's what I would call "dumbing down American readers" - what's wrong with checking some words in a dictionary ? Besides, it's fumbling with the author's original text; and in my book, not one word should have been changed.

As for Harold, well you have to admit that the man can make a point. "Can 35 Million Book Buyers Be Wrong?
YES."
Hats off.


Becky Maciek wrote: "As for Harold, well you have to admit that the man can make a point. "Can 35 Million Book Buyers Be Wrong?
YES."
Hats off. "


That isn't really a point of argument against the books, it's his snarky and elitist opinion. I wouldn't say that's really impressive, but perhaps I've missed something...?


Becky PS. I definitely agree with you about the dumbing down and that the author's text should be left intact. I understand translating it into other languages, but UK and US English isn't so different that it should be translated. =\


Maciek Becky wrote: "Maciek wrote: "As for Harold, well you have to admit that the man can make a point. "Can 35 Million Book Buyers Be Wrong?
YES."
Hats off. "

That isn't really a point of argument against the books, it's his snarky and elitist opinion. I wouldn't say that's really impressive, but perhaps I've missed something...? "


Well, it is. Not only Bloom answers his own question immediately, but he does it without any hesitation whatsoever. I mean just look at it - "Can 35 Million Book Buyers Be Wrong ? YES."
This is awesome. He doesn't even need any arguments. He's more badass than Neo from The Matrix. LOL ! I want to be a literary critic too.


Becky LOL - Well if the only qualifications that you need are 1) to be able to ask yourself an opinion-based question and 2) to answer it with your opinion, then I'd say you're overqualified. :P

Good luck in your career move. I hope that you are more open-minded and offer slightly more comprehensive critiques than Harold "I-hate-everything-that-isn't-a-classic-from-my-childhood" Bloom.


message 28: by Maciek (last edited Jul 26, 2010 08:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maciek Becky wrote: "LOL - Well if the only qualifications that you need are 1) to be able to ask yourself an opinion-based question and 2) to answer it with your opinion, then I'd say you're overqualified. :P

I'd take it as a compliment. LOL! I'd be even more ambitious and pretentious than mr. Bloom and diss everything without even reading it. LOL someone asked him once about his favorite living US writers and the man named 4 dudes. How's that for an open mind ?

Out of curiosity, how is the adult edition different from the one for children ? I assume that the text is the same, but are there different illustrations or something? or is it just a marketing ploy to plow even more money from unsuspecting buyers?


Becky LOL! If you're going to be more pretentious than Mr. Bloom, you'd have to say that you have no favorite living authors, because all of YOUR favorite authors died at least 100 years ago. HMPH!

I have the UK Adult editions, and the covers are different, there are no chapter illustrations, and the font is different, but otherwise I don't think they differ from the UK children's editions.


Maciek And if someone disagrees with me, I'd hit 'em with a complete set of novels by Dean Koontz. That thing is massive.

Thanks for the information. Someone once told me that the adult edition has more "mature" illustrations and I was wondering ever since (I have all volumes in Children edition).


Becky Maciek wrote: "And if someone disagrees with me, I'd hit 'em with a complete set of novels by Dean Koontz. That thing is massive.

Thanks for the information. Someone once told me that the adult edition has more "mature" illustrations and I was wondering ever since (I have all volumes in Children edition). "


Ouch. That's mean!

About the books, the UK Adult edition has NO illustrations at all - maybe they were talking about more mature cover art? That's what drew me to the adult edition over the childrens, I liked the more subtle cover art... *shrug*


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

I am also re-reading these in the U.K. format. I just finished The Prisoner of Azkaban earlier this month. Even though they're the same books, I find them completely different and yet I enjoy them both just the same.


Jayme Does anyone know if they changed stuff in the Canadian editions? And what did they change the title to in the American one? It's still the Philosopher's Stone in Canada.


Becky Jayme wrote: "Does anyone know if they changed stuff in the Canadian editions? And what did they change the title to in the American one? It's still the Philosopher's Stone in Canada."

Jayme, I think that the Canadian editions are the same as the UK editions, but I'm not 100% positive. They changed the US edition title to "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" - which is what the movie title is as well. That just seems wrong to me.

It's one thing for the US books that will be read by US people to be called something different, but the movie will be seen by people all over the world, and features all UK actors (which was a sticking point, I believe) so why would the title be the US title??

Silly. I don't get it.


Jayme Weird, I never even noticed the title change. :p I'm super observant obviously.


Becky Jayme wrote: "Weird, I never even noticed the title change. :p I'm super observant obviously."

LOL


message 19: by Jason (new)

Jason Cooperrider When I finally get to these books after the last movie is released, I think I will go with the U. K. editions, even though I would have thought a "car boot" was the device put on vehicles to immobilize them, rather than a trunk. :-)


Maciek You haven't read HP? Boy, you're in for a ride.


message 17: by Jason (new)

Jason Cooperrider Maciek wrote: "You haven't read HP? Boy, you're in for a ride."

Nope, I wanted to watch all the movies first.


Maciek Aww. The movies really don't do these books justice.


message 15: by Jason (new)

Jason Cooperrider Maciek wrote: "Aww. The movies really don't do these books justice."

That's why I think it is best to save the best (i.e., the books) for last.


message 14: by Becky (last edited Aug 07, 2010 02:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Becky The movies really kind of ruin the books. They have cut SO MUCH OUT and changed so much that they aren't even comparable to me. The books are so much better that you'll wonder why you even bothered watching the movies.

I am not a fan. =\ But then I'm pretty much a book purist. *shrug*


Jayme I like the movies. They have to cut stuff out, as it is they're already like 3 hours long each. I think they've done a pretty good job of being faithful to the feel of the books.


message 12: by Jason (last edited Aug 07, 2010 09:05PM) (new)

Jason Cooperrider I've also really enjoyed the movies, though the most recent one was pressing it. It will likely be the case that I will enjoy the books more (as is almost always the case with film adaptations of books), but that will never cause me to dislike the movies, as one does not have to dislike a version (e.g., book) of a story just because one liked the other version (e.g., movie) and vice-versa. I understand why films are not clones of books: the majority of audiences would not tolerate such long movies.


message 11: by Becky (last edited Aug 09, 2010 01:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Becky Oh I understand why they aren't clones of the books, and I understand why they have to cut stuff out. I'm not saying that I don't... I'm just saying that what they chose to cut, and the things that they changed took away so much of what made the books great that they don't even compare.

I can understand liking each version for what it is, but I can't really do that with these. To me, it's a massive waste of a potentially great franchise. They cut out whole characters and sub-plots and ties between books... things that allow the series to make sense as a whole, so that they now have to play catch-up in the last movie to work those ties back in...

They made all of the characters 2-dimensional, especially the secondary characters, by cutting out scenes that show their characters. I don't care about ANY of the movie characters. Case in point, I've read HP & The Order of the Phoenix probably 9 or 10 times at least. Every time, when a certain person dies, it breaks my heart. I feel the pain of his loss and I cry. It affects me. My over-active empathy gland goes to work and I feel Harry's pain and anger and frustration and loss. When I saw the movie version... Nothing. Nothing. And this, coming from the girl who can cry during Hallmark commercials, is saying something. And it's not good.

Anyway, I'm rambling on. I don't think that the movies should have been exact replicas of the books. I'm not so delusional as that... but they aren't true to the feel of the books either and that's much more important to me than whether they make sure that Ron is wearing blue socks as he's described in the book. *shrug*


Felina I completely understand. I've been a fan of the HP movies for a while up until the last few. I can't fathom how they are going to fix everything they cut out in just two more movies.

I remember in this last film they added a scene that didn't need to be there (when the burrow catches on fire) and left out really important things. I also hated how they gave Harry's kissing scene with Ginny to Ron and Lavender. I was so upset. I loved that scene. And I don't see any chemistry between Daniel Radcliffe and the girl who plays Ginny. Grrrr. In fact, aside from Ron who is my favorite character in the books and the movies, I don't see the character development in the movies. The characters are why these books are so popular. I cry just thinking about how much I love Harry, Ron and Hermione.

The emotion is out of the movies. There is a life to the books that the movies can't capture and I think it has everything to do with the easter eggs. They should have waited to make the movies until all the books were published. There are tells in the first book regarding the last book. Those are the things that the fans are obsessed with.


message 9: by Jason (new)

Jason Cooperrider Becky wrote: "...I don't care about ANY of the movie characters. Case in point, I've read HP & The Order of the Phoenix probably 9 or 10 times at least. Every time, when a certain person dies, it breaks my heart. I feel the pain of his loss and I cry. It affects me. My over-active empathy gland goes to work and I feel Harry's pain and anger and frustration and loss. When I saw the movie version... Nothing. Nothing. And this, coming from the girl who can cry during Hallmark commercials, is saying something. And it's not good."

Yes, I felt the same way when I saw the movie and mentioned that immediately to those who watched it with me. That's why I said the most recent movie was pressing it.


Becky I just feel that way about all of them... with the possible exception of the very first.


Monika I've read your comments on different versions of the books and I have to agree that the original language in which a book has been written sometimes matters. I actualy discovered this while reading HP series. I've read polish translation first, as I wasn't fluent enough at the time to try original, but some years later, out of curiosity I re-read it in english. I was amazed at the fact that original version, in particular scenes, striked me as much more humorous than the translation (I went on like "Oooh, so there was a joke? How come I didn't see it before?"). But since then I've read books that in translation were as much appealing to me as originals (or sometimes more), and what I think is that it really depends on the transator (were it UK English to US English or any other language), and on his/hers ability to recreate the atmosphere, or mood of the book in another language.
Concerning the UK to US translation of HP series, my opinion is that they decided that, as it was actually written for chldren, it'd've spoiled the reading for them if there was a lot of words they couldn't understand. But I guess they could leave the "adult" version unchanged.


vicki_girl I'm kinda late to the party on this discussion, but I can't stop thinking about the UK to US English conversion.

I (kinda) understand the argument that it makes the text more accessible to American readers. What really confuses me though, is that this kind of thing isn't done with other (originally) UK books that I have read, both adult and children's books. I specifically remember that Matilda by Roald Dahl uses the UK terms, e.g. "boot" rather than trunk (I know I had to have someone explain it to me when I read it the first time). Another book I read, Recursion by Tony Ballantyne, was really confusing because they "converted" some UK usages and not others. o_O

Maybe since HP was predicted to be such a hit, it was assumed more "non-readers" would be buying it, and thus it needed to be more acessible? *shrug*

Anyway, I agree that they shouldn't have changed it. I think i am going to try to listen to the Stephen Fry audio you linked on another edition (thank you!). That way I can experience the UK version without blowing ~4 months worth of book-buying-money. :)


Becky Oh my gosh, yes. Vicki, Stephen Fry's reading is so... perfect. I LOVED the whole experience of reading them that way. :D


vicki_girl Unfortunately the youtube links are gone now. :'(

I'll have to track it down some other way.


Erin Lanning Harry Potter is AWESOME!!


Steven Their covers are so much more fashionable and awesome than ours here!


Erika hmm, what did they change in the "Americanized" version?


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