10 days ago, while browsing through the Harry Potter tag from my Dashboard, I came across this post – Bath Literature Festival 2012: Are books doomed?. After reading through that well-written post, I typed out one of my longest comments in reply. I had planned on expanding that comment into a post of it’s own. Here it is :) I’ll be posting excerpts from that comment, and then (elaborately) elaborating below! ;)
During my school days, I grew up reading Enid Blyton books, a local kids magazine and later, by chance, was introduced to the Potter series in 2001. I think I’ve read a few hundred books right up till reading the final Potter book. But since then, I’ve hardly read any..
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a reader. During the late ’90s and early ’00s (between ages ~9 thru ~15), I remember visiting the local newsstand regularly to pick up a Tinkle, Gokulam or Champak. Gokulam was, by far, my favourite, having read every edition during those years.
Shifting schools to St. Joseph’s in 2002 opened for me a whole new world in the universe of reading. Fiction. The school’s wonderful library had everything from the classic Enid Blyton to the modern J K Rowling (although my introduction to the Potterverse wouldn’t be through here). During my three years there, I think I read most of the Blyton and The Hardy Boys book available, getting through three to five books a week.
In either 2001 or 2002, I picked up, from a friend’s place, a blue book with a flying car on the cover; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I had not heard of the Potter series until then. I don’t think I even knew it was a series. Little did I know that that day would be the first in 3000+ (and counting) days of obsession.. :)
As much joy as the Potter books have given me through hours and hours of thrilling reading, and later a lovely bunch of friends through internet forums (some of whom I’ve known for the past seven years!), has it been too good? As it occupied a tad too much of my time in the last decade, giving little or no time for me to develop another favourite? The title of this post reads “Harry Potter may have Avada Kedavra-ed my Love for Reading!” . I know that sounds a tad too drastic. But yes, it may have been one of the many reasons why my interest in reading has waned of late.
After I moved from one St. Joseph’s to the other in 2005, I don’t recall reading much apart from Potter, the Dan Brown books and my all-time favourite The God of Small Things. A poor non-academic section in the library, and more importantly, all my time now being usurped by the super-critical academic years 11 and 12, led to a general lack of interest and time for reading.
..I think it could be because the internet is diminishing my attention span. I say this because I read a lot of blogs. The time required to read a post is not much. As much as I love(d) reading, and the smell of a book, and the feel of paper, I can’t seem to have the patience to read books anymore. I am very sad about this.. :( ..
2005 was also the time I began spending some time online. Some would become considerable from 2007 onwards; The critical academic years were done and dusted and undergraduation presented more free time than before. I think I did a critical error here – instead of using this new-found surplus time to get back to the wonderful world of literature, I turned to Orkut (2007 – 2009) and Facebook (2009 onwards). (In hindsight, it now seems largely pointless, as unlike my internet-time between 2005-2007 (on Potter fan sites) which gifted me new, potentially lifelong friendships, I take very little away from the two Social Networking sites.)
Of course, nothing could dent my Potter Obsession. Every new Potter book and movie in 2005, ’07, ’09, ’10 and ’11 would involve re-reading of several Potter books.
2010 saw somewhat-of-a-return to reading. I had begun blogging (here). Slowly I got back to reading (online). I found it interesting to read what other bloggers had to say on topics that interested me. All along, I was an avid reader of the daily newspaper, reading almost everything on it, time permitting. I’ve come across many news articles, like this one, linking shorter attention spans and internet/TV. I am guessing this is why I don’t find books as appealing as before. My attention span is only long enough to read through a blog post/news article without being distracted. (If you think this blog post is too long, you might be a victim, too :P :) )
..I might also have missed the opportunity to jump to books targeted at adults. When the Potter series – with which I was much obsessed – came to an end (with the movies in 2011), I was already 22, without having read anything significant other than Harry Potter in a long time...
I am not joking when I say I was 22 before I even realised I was 18. My Potter obsession peaked when I was 16. Unfortunately, until the end of my magical Decade in 2011, I mentally stayed 16. Every time I thought of Potter, which was pretty much all the time, I would turn to a 16-year-old school boy discussing Potter with online and offline friends. My Potter decade ended on July 15, 2011. I began working on July 18, 2011. On July 15, I was sixteen years old. On July 18, I was twenty two. Another of my critical mistakes – not developing an interest in Young Adult books.
It is not that I have not tried, though. I’ve tried to read Twilight as many as five times, losing interest less than quarter of the way through, each time. Sherlock Holmes , twice. A mild-obsession started to develop with the House of Night series in my final year. But my academically packed final semester let that interest fizzle out. Anyway, that would have been a backward step, as I was outside of the target audience of the book.
I have over a dozen unread books/e-books with me.
..Another reason could be, the Potter universe, even outside of book, is so huge (and now with Pottermore opening to everybody in April, it is bound to get even bigger), that I could possibly live the rest of my life re-living the joys of reading and watching Potter between 2001 and 2011…
I’m not sure whether I should be happy or sad I said “I could possibly live the rest of my life re-living the joys of reading and watching Potter between 2001 and 2011…“. It is now beginning to scare me, actually. I have actually contemplated telling the Potter stories to my kids as bedtime stories. I dream of having Potter-related stuff in my “dream home”. I have actually dreamed of being a wizard. Does “too much of anything is bad” apply to Harry Potter as well? :)
..I really do want to read again. I have over a dozen unread books with me at the moment, some of them e-books. I think I need to banish myself from the internet and abstain from anything Potter for sometime if I need to start reading again…
Soon, I will be leaving to a school in a region without broadband internet access as a volunteer teacher for a few months. This is perhaps the perfect time to start reading again. I am not sure about the abstaining from anything Potter part. When I get back, I will have access to Pottermore and may even move to Glasgow (the closest I’ll ever be to Queen Rowling :P) for my post graduate studies.
If I live long enough, say 50, and I come back to read this post, I really do hope I haven’t lived the rest of my life re-living the joys of reading and watching Potter between 2001 and 2011.
[Writing has always made me happy. I can’t recall any other post that made me as happy as I am feeling right now. I (am perhaps the only one to) love my posts. This one, I love the most! :) This might be my best post yet, because it was 10 years in the making ;) ]
A good book has no ending ~ R D Cumming
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves ~ Anna Quindlen
EDIT: 22 July: The Bookworm is back! xD