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[Editor’s Note: OK, we really don’t have an editor (yes, there is an argument to made that maybe we should). I just wanted to add that I’m trying like hell not to spoil this book for anyone, so if you don’t want to know what happens in this book DON’T READ AFTER THE JUMP! If you’ve read the book or don’t care to have the ending ruined, feel free to read on.]

I didn’t wait in line to buy my book at midnight this past Friday, in magical costume, with signs expressing my Potterfilia. On the other hand, I also didn’t pre-order at Amazon – because they couldn’t guarantee delivery until 7pm which would have meant a loss of too many prime reading hours. Instead I drove to my favorite independent book store and paid (gasp) full price, eschewing all the various sales and discounts. I imagined that Harry would have been proud of me standing up for the little guy.

Once I got there things went a little funny. The store’s subdued reaction to this release (maybe they were exhausted from their partying the night before?) was mirrored by my own. Though they had huge stacks of pre-orders behind the desk, there was no front window display (they had gratuitous ones for book five and six). I actually had to go into the children’s section and look for it. I did find it (one of three copies strewn upon various surfaces) but I reached for it with little excitement this time, finally fully realizing that, good or bad, this was the end.

Upon arrival home I paced from room to room, carrying it without opening it, feeling its heft and gathering the courage I didn’t know I would need. I knew once I began that I would read until I was finished. I am hard core in that respect; I would finish by Monday. Beyond small breaks to catch my breath, eat a snack or stretch my legs, I didn’t stop. Really, I couldn’t stop. The action starts on page one and doesn’t let up for 748 pages. I read it on the 15 minute ride to my parents’ house for dinner. Had I somehow found a way to walk the dog or shower and read the same time, I would have done it.

Unfortunately life did interrupt such an ambitious reading session. I’m not a kid on summer vacation who can stay up all night if I want to. Last night, after various fits and spurts and more than two hours past my normal bedtime, I finally closed the book. I sat silently for a few moments. Probing myself for any emotional injures, I realized I was left with a hollow feeling of sorrow which had nothing to do with the various deaths within the pages. Have no doubts about this -there were many deaths (two before page 80), some of them shocking, others heartbreaking and one in particular which brought tears to my eyes.

My sorrow was really for the answered questions (and yes, they are all answered).

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My vacation was too short.  I had so many plans, so many things to do and so many books to read.  All of which I didn’t do.

Choosing a books (or multiple books if you are me) for vacation is difficult to do well.  Though I normally eschew nonfiction for mind candy fiction (hence Mr. Hitchens was put on hold), my brain would just not cooperate this past week.  Nothing suited me.  The plain Jane book I was reading (The God of Animals) was dispensed with too quickly on Day One.  Day Two consisted of Jon Katz new book (Dog Days)  dependably pleasant as always but also too quickly gone.

So I was left to sullenly and contrarily perused my shelves, standing in amazement (again!) that I have read them all (seriously how does that happen?) and ultimately went to the store and bought The Yiddish Policemen’s Union: A Novel by Michael Chabon. But put it down; it was too Jewish for vacation (don’t ask me what that means, I don’t really know. I partially blame the aforementioned Mr. Hitchens however) and would likely to require some thought.   So I turned to Melissa Bank (The Wonder Spot), whose first book of stories left me cold, but her “new” novel was on sale for $5.  It too, turned out to be too Jewish.  What to do?

Fantasy – it was my only answer.  Read the rest of this entry »

This blog would be remiss if one of us didn’t at least mention Harry Potter, so here’s a brief note. Harry and J.K. have weathered some harsh criticisms over the years (and it’s been a decade, can you believe it?  If you were eleven like Harry when you read book one, you can read Deathly Hallows at a bar!) but I for one am willing to forgive practically everything (I say practically because I don’t know what is in store for the finale. I hope and pray J.K. will not let us down).  I unabashedly adore Harry Potter and turn a conscious blind eye and ear to such criticisms.

I spent the majority of last night ignoring my dirty house, my pets and Tim so I could finish Harry Potter.  In preparation for the newest book I used to read the entire series, something that is near impossible nowadays with the number of books and their inordinate length (oh yeah and my lack of time).  So this time I settled for a Half Blood Prince re-read.   I’m glad I did.  I estimate that I’ve read about 200 books since this book came out two years ago (and yeah, I bought it the first day and read it the next day!).  It’s hard to keep stories straight when they’re so involved (although one of the criticisms that J.K. recieves is that she offers clues to past stories in each of her books. I say THANK YOU, since I’m an old lady with a failing memory lately – not a vibrant 10 year old with nothing else to worry about. I need the help). 

Now I’m ready. 

Or am I?  Despite my excitement, it’s still hard to believe that the next book is the last book. 

Cover Image

What to read next? It’s probably one of the most exciting and frustrating questions a reader can ask.  It’s a tough question.  Tougher still if you are a discerning reader looking for something new and interesting. 

Though I like a good mind candy, beach read book as much as the next person, I’m a little more demanding when it comes to “good reads.” If it’s currently on the NYT bestseller list (Harry Potter being the exception), I don’t read it.  If I see more than two people on the subway reading, I skip it.  If it’s in the top 100 on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, I’ll pass.  A good website for fiction for the anti-masses is bas bleu though they have been known to be very wrong (the Hazards of Good Breeding and Lucy are two notable examples). 

The safest bet is to ask other reader friends.  Reading is an experience made more enjoyable by sharing.  The simple phrase “You gotta read this!” makes what is necessarily a solitary activity suddenly a social one.  It’s the one thing guaranteed to drag us – hard core readers that is – out of our shells.  We hold up our titles like recent travellers with a photo album.  We want others to read – to see what we saw and to live what we lived.

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Jessica’s Reading

Jesse’s Reading

Jesse and Jessica are Both Reading

Devin’s Reading