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Posts Tagged ‘Harry Potter’

Today’s question:  What’s the most popular book in your library? Have you read it? What did you think? How many users have it? What’s the most popular book you don’t have? How does a book’s popularity figure into your decisions about what to read?

Popular! You’re gonna be popular!
I’ll teach you the proper poise
When you talk to boys
Little ways to flirt and flounce
Ooh! I’ll show you what shoes to wear
How to fix your hair
Everything that really counts

To be popular
I’ll help you be popular!
You’ll hang with the right cohorts
You’ll be good at sports
Know the slang you’ve got to know
So let’s start ’cause you’ve got an awfully long way to go

Don’t be offended by my frank analysis
Think of it as personality dialysis
Now that I’ve chosen to be come a pal
A sister and adviser, there’s nobody wiser
Not when it comes to popular –
I know about popular
And with an assist from me
To be who you’ll be
Instead of dreary who you were, well, are
There’s nothing that can stop you
From becoming popu-ler. LAR!
La la la la … We’re gonna make you popular

When I see depressing creatures
With unprepossessing features
I remind them on their own behalf
To think of celebrated heads of state
Or specially great communicators
Did they have brains or knowledge?
Don’t make me laugh!

They were popular! Please –
It’s all about popular!
It’s not about aptitude
It’s the way you’re viewed
So it’s very shrewd to be
Very very popular like me!

(lyrics from the Broadway show Wicked)

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program, and the answer to the question posed by the BostonBibliophile …  The most popular book in my library is J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone(with 32,518 cataloguers, and growing!).  I did like the book, but read it a while ago and haven’t rated or reviewed it.  I got the first Harry Potter book to try as a read-aloud with my kids, then they picked it up on their own, and we’ve bought the rest of the series as they were published.  I have read the seven books in the series, and my older kids have read them several times; I’m not a fan of fantasty or science fiction, but this did appeal to me.

My favorite Harry Potter purchase was July 16, 2005 when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was issued.  I was in Manhattan for the weekend with my friend Michele; we were walking back from a nice night out and saw the huge crowds outside Borders and Tower Records.  We got caught up in the excitement and purchased a few copies (great people watching with all the costumes and the fans who sat down on the sidewalks to start reading!).

The most popular LT book that I don’t have is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Timeby Mark Haddon.  This book has almost 14,000 catalogued entries.

I do read the New York Times Book Review, and check out the “top” lists of various categories.  I don’t read books simply because they’re popular, though; I rely more on recommendations, reviews, and sometimes just leafing through the book at a store.  A book’s popularity might make me curious about it, but it’s not the only factor I consider when deciding to read (or not to read) a book.

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The rain didn’t keep away the graduates, alumni, family and friends when  J. K. Rowling delivered her commencement address at Harvard University this afternoon.  Commencement activities were available live on streaming video at Harvard’s website and various Rowling fan sites.  Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter series, shared her thoughts on “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination” to this standing-room-only crowd.

She encouraged the graduates to take away two lessons from her address.  The first is the benefit of failure; she shares a tale of her own failure, and her subsequent realization that although she had failed at one venture, there were so many other areas of her life in which she was a success.  She had failed “on an epic scale”, yet survived.  She no longer feared failing; hitting rock bottom because that supposed low then “became the solid foundation on which [she] rebuilt [her] life.”

The second lesson Rowling shared is the importance of imagination.  Shortly after graduation from university, Rowling worked at Amnesty International.  Her co-workers and clients included former political prisoners, torture victims, and others who had been denied the most basic of human rights.  Rowling reminded her audience that:

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.

The author concluded by reminding the graduates and guests that, unlike Harry Potter, “we  do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”  She wished the audience the power of true friendships and “very good lives.”

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