Disney Song Book Tag

Y’all. This tag. The Disney Song Book Tag was created by Aria’s Books, and I picked it up from Rachel at Life of a Female Bibliophile.

1. “A Whole New World” – Pick a book that made you see the world differently.

A Whole New World

This may not count, because I barely saw the world at all prior to reading these books. However, I’m still choosing the Chronicles of Narnia. My mother read these books to me and my sister starting when I was three, so there’s not much in my life that didn’t get put through the Chronicles of Narnia goggles. I still experience quite the frisson when I see a lamp-post. Esp in the snow.

2. “Cruella De Vil” – Pick your favorite villain.

Gotta be the other mother from Coraline. In case she’s been missing from your nightmares lately, permit me to refresh your memory: SHE HAS BUTTONS FOR EYES.

Coraline

3. “I Won’t Say I’m in Love – Pick a book you didn’t want to admit you loved.

Honestly, as I get older and older, I am less and less closety about reading non-prestigious things. I’m going to say P. C. Wren’s Beau Geste and its sequels. They are those Edwardian-era adventure novels that are ideologically troubling on, like, a lot of levels? My fave is problematic.

4. “Gaston” – Pick a character that you couldn’t stand.

The thing is that I love Gaston. Instead of picking a character I couldn’t stand, I shall pick a character who I would hate in real life, but because they’re fictional, I get a huge kick out of spending time with them. And I choose Henry Winter from The Secret History. That dude is creepy? Yet so plausible that he’s capable of convincing people to commit legit murder.

5. “Part of Your World” – Pick a book set in a universe you wish you could live in.

actual footage of me reading Harry Potter

OBVIOUSLY HARRY POTTER.

6. “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” – Describe what the book of your dreams would be like.

Gosh. What would it be like. It would probably have a boarding school. Maybe there would be a dystopian situation? Like a boarding school in a dystopian universe? Plus with lady characters forming bonds and showing up for each other?

7. “Someday My Prince Will Come” – What book character would you marry if you could.

This gif does not match this song. I don’t care. Snow White sucks and Ariel is amazing.

Sherry from Greensleeves. Greensleeves is an amazing book by Eloise Jarvis McGraw that people do not appreciate enough even though it is now available for purchase through your favorite online retailer. Sherry from Greensleeves is curious about everything, reads constantly, and pays attention to other people. Best.

8. “I See the Light” – Pick a book that changed your life.

Oo tough one! Let’s say, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. They at least changed my reading life. Prior to reading Sandman, I was not a comics gal. If you’re not a comics gal, I do not recommend making Sandman your gateway drug. It has kind of a challenging panel structure. However, if you do make it through ten volumes of Sandman, you will come out the other end a legit comics gal. So it was with me.

9. “When You Wish upon a Star” – Pick a book you wish you could reread for the first time.

Jane Eyre. Of course, Jane Eyre. No, it’s not my favorite book of all time, but it’s not not my favorite book of all time, and reading it for the first time was, and would always be, an incredible experience.

10. “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” – Pick a book with some kind of monarchy in it.

How about Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall? I read this last year and was surprised to find that it’s wonderful! Mantel is brilliant at bringing historical figures to life, even ones who are larger than life in the first place like Henry VIII. WHY MUST ANNE BOLEYN DIE IN THE SECOND BOOK WHY OH GOD.

11. “Colors of the Wind” – Pick a book with a beautiful colorful cover.

Maggie Stiefvater’s Blue Lily Lily Blue. All of the books in this series actually! But Blue Lily Lily Blue has to be the most beautifulest one of all!

Blue Lily Lily Blue

GLORIOUS. DISNEY SONGS.

JK Rowling Does What She Wants: A links round-up

Emily Asher Perrin (writer of the superb Harry Potter Reread series on Tor.com) has some thoughts on JK Rowling’s constant expanding of the Harry Potter universe, and most of them are also my thoughts, so go see what you think.

The controversial Professor Bhaer: An investigation in five parts at the Paris Review.

Bros writing about southern food (& why it should be more ladies), over at a website I newly love, The Bitter Southerner.

This piece by Kiese Laymon about Bill Cosby and minimum standards of human decency is so, so good.

The stories you have the right to write, and building a new canon.

“Yes We Need Diverse Books. But that doesn’t always mean that we want YOU to write them.” Ellen Oh on the hip new trend of diversity, and the important work of promoting books by diverse authors.

“I Met a Sex Monster”: The Toast recaps “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”

bell hooks chats to Emma Watson, and it’s as adorable as you are imagining. Maybe even adorabler.

Christy of A Good Stopping Point has converted her great-great-grandmother’s journals into a blog! Stop by and check it out!

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Why can’t you shut up about Hamilton?: A links round-up

The marvelous Kiese Laymon on Confederate flags and SEC football.

On competing for the one single diversity spot in the writers’ room: Aisha Harris writes about the unbearable whiteness of TV writers’ rooms.

Nobody could be more excited about the new Star Wars trailer than stars John Boyega and Daisy Ridley.

Recovering the history of years in slavery, and the story of a forgotten forced deportation: An article that opens with an oddly upsetting anecdote.

New details emerge about that Harry Potter play! (It’s not a prequel, it’s a sequel! Joke’s on you, prequel-wanters! You’ll never ever learn more about the Marauders.)

“Jenny, shut up about Hamilton already, Gahd!” NEVER.

Kelly Sue DeConnick spoke with Alyssa Rosenberg about her comic Bitch Planet, and predictably, she has lots of interesting things to say. In particular, she notes that comics do a thing where “they will set up something to be deliberately salacious, and then pretend to have some ethical structure around it.” YEP. The interview is in two parts, here and here.

Are you excited for Jessica Jones? Or do you wish her backstory didn’t have to be so rapey? Or both?

South By canceled a panel about harassment in gaming because they’re afraid of getting harassed. Caroline Linders, one of the organizers of the panel, has a good rundown of what happened. BuzzFeed has withdrawn participation from the festival in protest. SXSW appears to be in damage control mode, but as of today, no final decisions appear to have been made.

The superlatives of an outstanding reading year

DAMN this was a good year for books. As I was scrolling through old posts trying to make a Best of 2013 list, I was astounded at the percentage of posts this year that were four or five stars. Now, I will say that as years go on, I have become ever less inclined to review books about which I felt neutral, but even so, 2013 was an incredible year for books. It was so good that I gave up on the Best of 2013 idea, which would have felt uncurated because it would have included almost everything I read this year, and decided instead to tailor my list of superlatives to the particular strengths of this year.

Best bookish thing that is not a book

To nobody’s surprise, Emma Approved. Are you watching it yet, or have you been holding off because you were burned by Welcome to Sanditon? If the latter, I’d like to take this opportunity to endorse Emma Approved with a full heart. Emma and Mr. Knightley have excellent chemistry; Sen. Elton is pleasingly personable but you can see how he will turn out to be secretly douchey; and as in most Emma adaptations, Harriet and Mr. Martin steal any scene they’re in together. This creative team is brilliant, and my wish is that they keep on doing video blog adaptations of 19th-century classics forever. The 19th century was a good time for Lit’rature. It’s not like they’d run out of ideas. Mainly I don’t want them to stop before they get around to Jane Eyre.

Best job by me of convincing my mother of an opinion of mine that she disagrees with and I have been trying to talk her around to my position for more than a decade now

This defense of Sirius Black. Mumsy still does not love him, but she conceded that I had a point, and that my point made her like him better than she used to. Hooray for me!

Most deserving of its hype

Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell. The blogosphere could not stop talking about Eleanor and Park this year. Y’all were not lying. This book is damn amazing. I wanted to read it again the minute I finished it. I cannot wait to own my own copy, which I will cherish and put a book plate in with my name in my fanciest handwriting.

Most deserving of how m.f. excited I was about it before it came out

More Than This, by Patrick Ness. I went into A Monster Calls with too-high expectations, and when More Than This started off so slowly, I became terribly anxious that I wouldn’t love it the way Patrick Ness’s books deserve to be loved. But it rallied with the introduction of two new-and-wonderful characters, and I ended up loving it. In particular I love it that Patrick Ness is not in a rut. More Than This is totally different to the Chaos Walking series, which is totally different to The Crane Wife (review forthcoming), which is totally different to A Monster Calls. I love him, and I am excited for whatever he wants to do next.

Lowest expectations for a book that ended up being pretty good actually

Shadows, by Robin McKinley. As I’ve mentioned before, I count a couple of Robin McKinley’s books among my favorite books in the world. But only a couple, and the rest of her books leave me feeling dissatisfied and bored. My expectations of Shadows were rock-bottom, and it turned out to be a really fun read.

Most wanted to be The Secret History and was angry and disappointed when it wasn’t

You thought I was going to say The Goldfinch, didn’t you? Ha, ha, you were wrong. The answer is, The Bellwether Revivals, by Benjamin Wood. I did not like it. Why wasn’t it more like The Secret History? Why aren’t all books more like The Secret History? These are questions I cannot answer.

Loveliest surprise

You’ll be tired of me saying it, but Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye. I didn’t expect not to like it, but I was surprised by how much I ended up liking it. A runner-up, because I did expect not to like it, was Kate Atkinson’s strange and wonderful Life after Life.

Saddest fictional death

Uncle Finn in Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rivka Brunt. That book wrecked me. Although it’s difficult to say in a year so packed with wonderful reads, I am going to go ahead and say that Tell the Wolves I’m Home was my best book of 2013. Eleanor and Park was awfully, awfully good, but I’m giving it to Tell the Wolves I’m Home by dint of the fact that it’s not getting quite as much play and thus needs me to love it extra.

Saddest real-life death

Elizabeth Peters, of course. I am crushed that Elizabeth Peters has died, and I regret that I never wrote her a letter to tell her how much enjoyment I got from her books over the years.

Made me feel the best about myself for enjoying it

HHhH, by Laurent Binet. I often struggle with books in translation, so I’m always thrilled — with the author and myself — to encounter a book in translation that I unreservedly love. HHhH is that kind of book. It is surprisingly lovely and sweet for a book about assassinating a Nazi officer.

Whack-a-doodlest book lent the most gravitas by its author’s serious, Southern-accented radio interviews

Going Clear, by Lawrence Wright – If you haven’t read this book about scientology yet, now’s a good time to read it. I think it would be fun to read over a vacation: lots of crazy parts that you can read out loud to your friends-and-relations, who can’t escape from you because y’all are on vacation.

Favorite term I coined myself like a genius

“Process dystopia” to describe the kind of book that shows the world all going to hell, instead of starting the book after the world has already gone to hell.

Coolest design

Obviously, Marisha Pessl’s Night Film. No contest, because I haven’t finished reading the JJ Abrams / Doug Dorst collaboration S yet.

Best execution of a tricky premise

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. This book! So good! Karen Joy Fowler does not invent a premise and coast on it. She follows through all the way. She commits. I loved the writing, I loved the jokes, and I loved the sadness. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves gets additional credit for reminding me to care about James Tiptree Jr., an author I now really like.

Jolliest good fun

Lexicon, by Max Barry. This was just fun. It was fun and fun and fun, and there are not enough books in this world that are just pure fun.

Lovablest book that did not appeal to me on paper

Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. Nothing about the synopsis for this book would have called to me, but fortunately I read part of it in a NetGalley excerpts package and fell in love with the narrative voice. I loved it, and I think it’s something special and particular, and I’m not just saying that because the ending is perfectly geared towards my sensibilities.

Best Harry Potter news

It’s a tie! It’s a tie between the news that JK Rowling is writing a movie about Newt Scamander and his escapades as a wizard naturalist in the early twentieth century, and the news that the UK is releasing beautiful new editions of the Harry Potter books illustrated by Jim Kay of A Monster Calls. Y’all, I miss Harry Potter.

Most merits its long long length

Again, not The Goldfinch! (I think that could have been edited down a bit.) This one goes to Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s great. I didn’t want it to end.

Author least afraid of going balls-to-the-wall crazy with plots

Laini Taylor! I am well excited for the third book in her Nouns of Substances and Atmospheric Nouns trilogy. She just goes all out with her storylines, and that is wonderful to me, as anyone who has ever heard me speak about The Vampire Diaries will know.

Best character

Boris, from Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. There aren’t enough good things to say about Boris. If the book only consisted of passages with Boris in them, and had no other plot, it would be worth it just for that. I don’t remember the last time I encountered a character in a book that I enjoyed spending time with as much as Boris from The Goldfinch.

Insanest that I still haven’t finished reading it

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. I know I know I know I know. But here’s what’s up: I’m reading it to Social Sister. I’ll finish reading it when I finish reading it to Social Sister. That’s how we roll.

And that’s 2013, my friends! I’ll be away from blogging over the next couple of weeks to celebrate holidays with the family, and I wish you all happy holidays and a wonderful New Year. See you in January!

Important question: What does “full color” mean in this context?

As you have probably heard by now, Jim Kay has been commissioned to give the Harry Potter books “a full colour makeover in a complete set of new editions.” The team that decided who would do this included J. K. Rowling, and Jim Kay is the brilliant genius who illustrated A Monster Calls. Below is his rendering of Hogwarts.

harrypotter_2757401b

Look, I know. How cool is that tunnel-staircase-pathway-thing that terminates in a creature mouth?

My question now for the illustrated Harry Potter people is, What does full color mean exactly? I am so excited by the idea that it might mean a whole bunch of color plates that my heart speeds up when I think about it. England, would you be so kind as to announce this news again? This time with details? GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT, ENGLAND. The people want to know are there color plates and if so how many. The people want to know this urgently. The people feel like if there are, say, between six and ten color plates in each book, they will probably buy copies of them all, even though they have copies of the Harry Potter books with which they are perfectly satisfied. By the way, the people are not trying to tell England its business but do feel that there should be a silhouettey sort of picture of Neville just having done what the people shall here call Neville’s heroic hat trick in an effort to avoid spoilers while also conveying the necessary information to their readers.

(The people also hope that the bindings are sturdy because the people’s original copies of the Harry Potter books have not proved as hardy as the people had hoped when they bought them over the years. But the people do not want to draw England’s attention away from the main question about the color plates. The people hope England understands that the color plates are the question of true importance here.)

Edit to add: My question has been answered. It does mean “a whole bunch of color plates,” as well as small subsidiary illustrations adorning the book margins, and it also apparently means a gorgeous fold-out illustration of Diagon Alley. YAY.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

Oh, the seventh and final Harry Potter book.  This post will probably contain spoilers for a number of previous books, and likely spoilers for this one as well.  Sorry.  Can’t help it.  Don’t know how to talk about Harry Potter without spoilers.  Harry and Ron and Hermione have left school now because they are questing for Horcruxes!  They spend all sorts of time running around the countryside trying to find the damn things, and getting into all sorts of scrapes, and at last, you will be pleased to hear, Voldemort gets defeated and everyone is happy.  Except the ten thousand people who die including Lupin that I specifically said not to die, but JK Rowling did try to soften the blow by making him into a complete jerk in this book.

I remember feeling faintly cheated in this book, because all these things were revealed that we could never have suspected before getting the book.  I slightly wish that J.K. Rowling had mentioned Beedle the Bard, or legends of a wand that always won, or just you know, given more clues about what was going to happen.  That way, when we got to this book, the massive shit-tons of exposition would have felt less like exposition, and more like an expansion on things we already knew.  Like that time in the fifth book where Dumbledore told Harry all about the prophecy and that business – we had heard a lot of it before, so it felt fair.  Some of the stuff in this book didn’t feel fair.

That said, I have a hard time feeling critical of this book, because I went all through high school and college with these characters, and now they’re all grown up and fighting evil!  Particularly when it’s characters I didn’t care for much at first, and grew to love – Luna, Neville, Ginny, Dobby – I don’t know, I just feel pleased with them for being amazing.  (Except Ginny, who the only thing she gets to do in this book is make out with Harry on his birthday, “kissing him as she’d never kissed him before”, which can I just say, I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THAT CAN POSSIBLY MEAN.  Whatever, Ginny.  Fight some damn evil.  I liked you so much in the sixth book.)  Neville defeating the snake is one of my favorite moments in the seventh book.

…I really wish the seventh book weren’t already published.  I am sad with no new Harry Potter books coming out ever.  Wasn’t it fun, waiting for the next book to come out?  And having lots of speculation and sometimes proving to be absolutely spot-on perfectly correct, like I was about Snape and Lily LIKE A GENIUS?

Random thoughts:

  • For the first quarter of this book, I was writing down my reactions because I couldn’t shriek them at my sisters.  Here’s what I wrote when I got to Rita Skeeter’s mean article about Dumbledore: “Rita Skeeter, I hope you drown in a river and don’t you shatter my illusions about Dumbledore or I WILL CUT YOU.  He was the BEST MAN EVER.”
  • Harry refusing to give an inch to Scrimgeour even when Scrimgeour’s being super duper intimidating.  I can never have too much of this.  When Scrimgeour was all “It’s time you learned some respect!” and Harry was all “It’s time you earned it,” I had a fantastically hard time not shrieking “Harry FTW!” at my sisters, who were reading it at the same time but maybe didn’t want to be disturbed by my shrieking.  Not quite as good as the “Dumbledore’s man through and through” bit – oh dear, getting teary – but pretty good.  Aw, Harry.
  • Sirius’s posters of Muggle girls in bikinis.  Oh that made me love him so much.  I wish Sirius were still around.  I love Sirius.  Also, when Harry found that letter from his mum, that was the first time I cried in this book.
  • Ron rescuing Harry from the Horcrux.  Excellent, excellent scene; and no, Ron, you don’t deserve to get forgiven straight away.  I was all, This is it, this is it, and apparently so was Ron, but props to Hermione for not wanting to be BFFs again straight away.
  • The first time I read this, I didn’t shed a tear for Dobby.  I don’t know why.  That whole thing is incredibly sad, digging the grave, and Luna thanking him.  When I reread it, I cried and cried and cried.  I think that first time, I was just all keyed up from the past scene and expecting someone major to die, and I was just so relieved that it wasn’t Ron.  J.K. Rowling spent this whole book screwing around with me, pretending Hagrid was going to die, and I did not appreciate it
  • I also didn’t appreciate Harry using the Cruciatus Curse.  That’s great, Harry.  You’ve spent this whole being all like, blah blah blah don’t kill anybody blah, and you decide to go with it now just because someone spits at Professor McGonagall?  Apart from the fact that you have spent the last four books talking about how Unforgivable this Curse is (and the Imperius one – Harry, get a grip, please), I feel like you weren’t really close enough with McGonagall to give a crap if someone disrespects her.  Plus, if you are using Unforgivable Curses, how are you any better than the Death Eaters?
  • Snape’s memories of Lily.  I WAS SO RIGHT IN EVERY WAY.  I even brought up to my sister at one point the possibility that the chapter in the fifth book about “Snape’s worst memory” was actually Snape’s worst memory.  As in, the moment when his relationship with Lily became impossible; but whichever sister it was pooh-poohed my notion.  I WAS RIGHT ABOUT THAT TOO.  I love being right.
  • Dumbledore & Grindelwald.  Love it.  I loved that we got to see Dumbledore one last time at the end of this book, because I miss Dumbledore, being all comforting and wise and explaining everything.  It sort of crushed me when Dumbledore and Harry were talking about Grindelwald, and how he lied to Voldemort about the Wand, and Dumbledore was all, So I guess he didn’t want Voldemort to get it, and Harry was all, Or maybe he wanted to stop him breaking into your tomb, and Dumbledore was all teary.  Oh Dumbledore, honey.
  • Plus, “It may be happening in your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it isn’t real?”  Word.
  • Harry’s parents walking him to his death.  And then Hagrid carrying Harry’s body.  I am always such a mess at this point in the book.  Doesn’t help (crying-wise – obviously it helps plotwise) that:
  • Neville defeats the snake!  Like he said to Harry that he would!  Neville is such my hero.  Darling brave Neville, you have grown up so much since the days of losing your toad.
  • Mrs. Weasley, way to use a naughty word and then kill Bellatrix dead like a badass.  Obviously we should have gotten Mrs. Weasley angry a few books ago.  Like, that other time Bellatrix was trying to kill her children, in the Department of Mysteries, BEFORE BELLATRIX KILLED SIRIUS.
  • I would have liked to see some mention of George Weasley in the epilogue.  I feel like J.K. Rowling could have achieved a better effect by having Percy die, rather than Fred – that works, you know, as far as the senselessness of death, because he had only just come back, and it would still have been terribly sad.  Whereas when it was Fred, it was like, J.K. Rowling is just screwing with us (esp. because George lost an ear earlier and we were all like, well, grand, the Weasley twin misfortune has come and is now over – she did that on purpose!  On purpose!  Meanie-face!).  But anyway, if she had to kill Fred Weasley (she killed three of the four people I asked her not to kill, though of all of them I think I most needed Hagrid to survive, just for Harry’s sake), she should have mentioned George in the epilogue.

Booking Through Thursday

I like this one:

This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

So here are my fifteen books that will always stick with me, more or less in the order in which they entered my life:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
Jane Eyre
, Charlotte Bronte
Emily Climbs, L.M .Montgomery
Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
Macbeth
, William Shakespeare
The Chosen
, Chaim Potok
The Color Purple
, Alice Walker
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
, J.K. Rowling
Greensleeves
, Eloise Jarvis McGraw
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
The Invention of Love, Tom Stoppard
I Capture the Castle
, Dodie Smith
Showings
, Julian of Norwich
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Salman Rushdie

These are all books that left me breathless.  Is that what we were after?

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling

If you are about to ask, “Jenny, did you get this book for only two pounds at the Charing Cross Road Borders, along with a number of other kids’ books that were, at 3 for 2, absolutely irresistible?”, then the answer is yes.  Yes, I did.  And I was really pleased about it, I can tell you.  And I also couldn’t resist buying a great big heavy book all about writing Doctor Who, because I am interested in how people write TV shows.  I mean how the process works.  All very interesting.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is another of those wee books J.K. Rowling writes for charities, bless her, and it’s quite charming.  Not because of the stories themselves – nothing wrong with them, it’s just tricky to write a wonderful fairy tale, and even trickier when you’re not operating within traditional fairy tale conventions, and even trickier yet still when you are writing fairy tales purportedly for an audience comprised of witches and wizards.  The stories are enjoyable enough, but what’s really fun is Dumbledore’s commentary on them.  Dumbledore makes me smile.  I miss Dumbledore.  Why are there not more Harry Potter books than there are?  I miss them all actually.  And waiting for new ones to come out.  That was fun.  Why can’t we have that bit over again?

Anyway, Dumbledore’s commentary – he spends some time telling amusing stories about the stories (ah, metafiction, I love you when you do not disappoint and crush me), and even talks about a woman who supposedly rewrote these stories in dreadful twee ways.  She reminded me of Enid Blyton.

I’ve never read Enid Blyton.  Every time I pick up one of her books and glance at it, it seems so sweety-sweet that I feel sick to my stomach and have to put it down straightaway.  Am I being unfair to Ms. Blyton?  Or are her books genuinely that sweety-sweet?  Or, third option, do her books have merit as long as you read them for the first time when you are quite young?  Some books are like this and I sometimes don’t hold it against them.  I am hoping it is the second or third thing, because if I’m being unfair, I don’t know how I’m going to force myself to read her books.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling

I’m very emotional.  I – I – I have so many, so very many, feelings.

This was the only one of the books I waited for but not with my family.  When the sixth book came out, I was doing a month in London, which was amazing and I saw like twelve plays that month, but it also meant that I got my book from a bookshop in Croydon.  Aggravating melodramatic liar Frank Harris is from Croydon.  That’s all I will say.  Also, nobody stayed up with me to read it.  I was with (a different) Jane, and she and I and this other girl read the first three chapters out loud to each other, which was fun – I can vividly remember Hannah’s voice saying “Kreacher won’t, Kreacher won’t, Kreacher won’t!” – but then everyone went to bed except me.  In a way this was good because I could shriek and gasp all I wanted to without annoying anybody, but in another way it was sad because there was no one awake to say “HOLY SHIT SNAPE IS THE DADA TEACHER!”

So let me just take this opportunity to say, “HOLY SHIT!  SNAPE IS THE DADA TEACHER!” because reading this book for the fourth or so time has done nothing to dim the anxiety I feel when Dumbledore makes that particular announcement.

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, things are getting nastier.  People you’ve heard about are dying suddenly, Death Eaters are all around, and Snape is acting shifty (for a change).  Malfoy’s got some top-secret Evil Project to do, but Harry’s the only one who seems concerned about this.  Dumbledore is giving Harry private lessons in which he shows him memories about Voldemort that he has collected, which is cool.  I don’t really know how to summarize the plot, since the fifth and sixth books are more just rising evil than a self-contained mystery, the way the earlier books are.  Suffice it to say, evil is rising.  The rest is spoilers.

The sixth is my second favorite of the books, just after the third.  Sometimes I think I like it even better than the third.  The adverbs don’t actually get any better, but a lot of fun stuff happens – the scene with Dumbledore at the Dursley house, at the beginning of this book, has gone on my favorite scenes list, for instance.  I love the entire Ron-Lavender plotline, which never fails to make me laugh.  It’s nice to see Harry doing well in Potions for a change – better he have an asshat Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, since he’s already brilliant in that area.  Besides which, this is the first book in which Harry really seems like an adult, and I feel very proud of him.  His instincts are good, and he’s gotten better at reporting weird things to teachers and other adults when he sees them.  (I think Dumbledore should have been straight with him about Malfoy.)  The scene in the middle where he puts Scrimgeour in his place is another favorite.  Sometimes I read it when I am feeling blue.

My family definitely knew Snape was in love with Lily by now.  My mother was certain about it by the time the fifth book came out, and this Lily being brilliant at Potions business just clinched it for us.  Mumsy spent a lot of time coming up with really maudlin scenarios for Snape to confess to Harry that he had loved Lily.  Her favorite one involved Snape giving his life for Harry and then in the throes of death imagining that he was talking to Lily instead of Harry (because of the eyes) and choking out “I did it, Lily – I saved your son – I did what I promised – ” Imagine how pleased she was at Snape’s real death scene in the seventh book.  I knew straight away that Snape was not really evil, and Dumbledore was not pleading for mercy.  I mean almost straight away.  I had a moment of pure and total consuming fury when I first read it, but then I was like, Now, Jenny, if Dumbledore asked him to kill him it doesn’t count as murder, so you cut that out.  I was still really mad at Snape.  I enjoy being mad at vile Snape.

And oh, how sad Dumbledore’s funeral was!  When Hagrid cried and cried – it hurt my heart.  Especially when Harry said the thing to Scrimgeour about Dumbledore’s not really being gone from Hogwarts, and that he was Dumbledore’s man through and through.  It gets me every time.

I am so emotional.  Obama inspirationally won the election, and we came very close to beating Alabama at the game that I ATTENDED, and Dumbledore died.  What a weepy week for Jenny.

Is it just me

…or does today feel like the first chapter of the first Harry Potter book?  I feel like setting off fireworks and sending owls to people.  I want to hug conservatives and say “Even Republicans like yourself should be celebrating on this happy, happy day!”

Enjoy history while it’s happening, everyone!