Book Reviews

The Big Birthday

Not mine, but Harry Potter and JK Rowling.

Twenty years ago, the story of a boy wizard and his adventures lit up our lives. Seven books totaling around four thousand pages gave us more than we needed for the rest of our lives to obsess over.

Only, I didn’t buy into this particular bestselling phenomena until the fourth book was out.

I had been aware of the hype building up around Harry Potter, which had reached a peak around book 4, but I contented myself with the knowledge that I never read much fantasy anyway, and even if I did I wouldn’t delve into childish tales of wizards and witches flying around on brooms like imbeciles casting spells on one another for lack of anything better to do.

Boy, was I wrong.

Around a year before the fifth book released, I spoke to my sister, a voracious reader just like me. She said, have you read Harry Potter?

I said, no, why would I?

She said, read it. It’s like John Grisham for children.

Are you serious?

Get it now!

But I was still not sure. And I was weary of shelling out money and more importantly purchasing books that would further add to the burdens on my already ever-groaning bookshelf. Fortunately, I had a neighbor who was also a fan – a teenage boy who had read the books to tattered bits. I loaned them from him. He was kind enough to loan them to me, albeit with a sigh. I just can’t wait for book five, he said.

I thought: What losers! What could be so suspenseful that you couldn’t wait a little for a silly book?

That evening I read the first book. It was fun! I couldn’t guess the villain, which disappointed me profoundly.

I read the second book. I didn’t like it too much at first. Too dark for me. But the suspense pulled me over to the third, which many ranked as the finest of the series. By the time I reached the fourth book I was madly hooked. I read well into the night and woke up with puffed eyes.

When I reached the end of The Goblet of Fire, I was mad! We had to wait months for the next book? Where was the justice in this world?

From then on I stood in queue for the books. I put off packing for my trip to Singapore because I was too busy shedding tears when (do I really need to put a spoiler alert here??) Snape kills Dumbledore in Book Six.

Book Seven sealed my love for this series.

I tried to analyze why it appealed to me when other fantasy fiction didn’t. The answers I find online don’t match with my experience. I believe I liked it and it goaded me to consume more fantasy fiction because it was easy relatable in terms of the magic world that was created. Up until then I had found it difficult to dive into the fantasy world, but this one was easier to visualize.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad I overcame the inertia and embraced this book with all my heart. JK Rowling made all our lives richer, and deserves all the accolades for it.

Are you a Harry Potter fan? Which is your favourite book of the series? Do share!

Humour, Writing

What ho Author!

In honour of PGW’s 130th birth anniversary (which I remembered reading this post), I crafted the following letter. If Bertie Wooster launched a literary agency with Jeeves as his trusty assistant, what kind of rejection letter would good ol’ Bertie send to the hand-wringing writers? Fret not, friends! The answer lies below: 

What ho Author! 

Jolly good of you to send along your manuscript thingie, what?  

Of course I couldn’t read it without downing one of Jeeves’ life-saving bracers, but even that didn’t do the trick. The old lemon remained clouded several hours after turning the last of your pages. So I handed over the bally thing to Jeeves, who has a head the size of a melon. His brow flickered upon reading the opening paragraph, which, I hesitate to say, boded ill for the rest of the work. 

My judgment proved correct. After a detailed inspection of your material, Jeeves addressed me thus: ‘I fear, sir, that it would be injudicious on my part to advise you to undertake the championing of this manuscript. The prose does not merit praise, and the treatment of the subject matter has clearly not taken into account the psychology of the individual.’ 

I offered it to Aunt Dahlia, but she had occupied herself with writing an editorial for her magazine Milady’s Boudoir, to which I once contributed an article on ‘What the Well-dressed Man is Wearing’. You see, author old chap, I’ve written some tosh too, just like you brainy coves! 

Aunt Agatha refused to answer my call for help. I believe she was chewing on a broken bottle at the time of receiving my telegram. 

Fear not, author old boy, for this too shall pass, as Jeeves says. A stiff b and s is all you’ll need to recover. 


Bertram Wilberforce Wooster