And finally, I’m discussing the last books I read last year — the MinaLima illustrated editions of the first and second Harry Potter books.
The Harry Potter series is catnip for me. If a new edition is published, I’ll most likely get it, so yea, I’m looking forward to the upcoming Jim Dale illustrated version of the fifth book, which I think is coming out this year in October, and am hoping MinaLima will do illustrated versions of all the books and that a third one is forthcoming.
Since the Harry Potter books are so popular and I’ve discussed the story several times on here, this won’t be a typical review because I won’t discuss the story — plot, characters, and all that. Instead, I’ll just focus on the illustrations and structure of the physical book and how those things affected my reading experience.
The short of it — I LOVE the MinaLima editions of the Harry Potter series. They are exactly what I expect when I see “illustrated edition” tagged to a title. The illustrations are bright, colorful, quirky, and interactive, and I think they fit the playful tone of the story, especially for the first books.
…because I have a strong feeling that I would enjoy reading Dickens’ tomes. I’ve often seen his name mentioned in reviews of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books and I think that she listed him as one of her literary influences. I’ve also read that, like Rowling, his characters are whimsical, which is highly appealing to me. I can’t wait to try one of his books but whenever I visit the bookstore, I always think his books “Too big to buy right now.”
If on a winter’s night a traveler… by Italo Calvino
…because I’ve heard that it’s a book about reading a book of the same title and I find that mind-boggling. But for the life of me, I always forget Calvino’s name when I visit the bookstore and though I remember the book’s title, I always think that it’s a sentence in book and that it’s too ambiguous a clue for the bookseller to search by.
Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
…because I want to know if I’ll love her books no matter what. I’ve read some very bad reviews on this novel and it makes me wonder if my reading experience will be similar to those I’ve read. Would I also think Rowling dropped the ball with this novel? That she’s better suited for children’s books only? Only reading will tell. I bought this book shortly after it was published but it’s sitting on my bookshelf collecting dust. You see, it’s a hardback copy and it’s quite a nuisance to haul a big-ass hardback novel everywhere you go and I tend to travel with the books I’m currently reading so for now it sits on shelf with a smattering of dust for company.
Anything by Nalo Hopkinson
…because I’ve realized that I’ve hardly read any fantasy novels by someone of African descent much less from the Caribbean or even the country I’m from. Actually, the only fantasy/sci-fi novel I’ve read by a person of color is Kindred by Octavia Butler…and I didn’t like it :/. Well, I read it in college and I really, really hated the cover of the book. (It’s the one of the girl in white on the cover. I thought it was eerie. Yea, I know that makes no sense but it’s how I felt). Also, I tend to dislike stories that incorporate time travel. (Yes, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as well. It’s one of my least liked books in the series.) Anyways, somehow I discovered Hopkinson and after learning that she’s from the Jamaica and that her fantasy novels tend to include Caribbean culture, I immediately wanted to read her books. But I always forget this want when I visit the bookstore and so forget to search for her. I guess I’ll have to place the purchase online.
The Odyssey by Homer
…because Homer is the dude! Everyone has heard or read some sort of reference to The Odyssey and numerous authors refer to the text in their writing so I believe I must experience it for myself. Plus, I enjoy reading anything that references Greek mythology. I did read bits of The Odyssey in high school and in college but now I’d like to read the entire text. I always consider purchasing it when I visit the bookstore but somehow I always walk out without it. I probably had the same thought as when I see Dickens’ tomes: “Too big to buy right now.”
I forgot both the title and the author’s name but it’s an account of Roman emperors’ lives. The book is quite scandalous.
…because I’m nosy. Whenever this book is mentioned, I’m always curious to read it to find out more. But, as you can tell, I can’t remember the title or the author’s name so I have yet to purchase it. If somehow you know what book I’m talking about, please share the title and author’s name.
One Thousand and One Nights and The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
…because they are all classic texts from cultures other than Western Europe and if I read The Odyssey, I must read these too. I always visit their shelves whenever I go to a bookstore but they seem quite big so in the store they remain for now.
Paradise Lost by John Milton
…because I am curious to know what it’s about. I’ve heard that it’s on Satan’s fall from Heaven and I would like to see how Milton details that. I guess I’ll have to read my Bible before I start on this so it’s easier for me to note how closely or how far he strays from the Bible’s recount of the event (it’s highly likely I won’t do this but thinking I will makes me feel great). I did attempt to read this back in college…probably freshman year. I gave up after a few sentences. I do have the book (since freshman year) and I have yet to crack it open again. To be revisited.
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
…because I read Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor. Linden Hills is one of my favorite novels and the neighborhood that serves as the setting of the story symbolizes the different levels of hell Dante describes. Another reason why I want to read The Divine Comedy is because it’s often referenced in other texts and I like knowing where the references are from otherwise I feel left out (as if the author is sharing an inside joke). I have the book on my bookshelf. I tried reading it once but didn’t have the patience (that was in college as well). To be revisited.
Donald Writes No More by Eddie Stone
…because I’ve read Donald Goines’ books and I know that the stories are a bit autobiographical. I always wanted to learn a bit more about Goines. His stories display the harsh reality of life on the streets. He doesn’t soften the blow of that reality but presents it as it is. I’ve searched in stores but have never found this book. I guess I’ll have to order it from Amazon.
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
…because I must. I wanted to read this book before I even knew what it was about just because I liked its cover. It was years later that I discovered what it was about and that heightened my want to read it. Usually, whenever I visit the bookstore I’d go over to the sci-fi/fantasy section and gaze at the cover wondering what the lady on it is up to with that big-ass sword but now I have a copy that I bought second-hand at Second Story Books in Dupont Circle at one of its sidewalk sales. To be started.
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
…because it’s intriguing. I forgot where it was that I first heard of this book maybe it was the title that caught me. But since discovering it, I’ve always wanted to read it but have never gotten around to purchasing it. I pick it up every time I visit the bookstore and leaf through its pages but when it’s time to decide what stays and what goes, The Psychopath Test always goes. I tell myself, “Next time I’ll get it.”
Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
…because it’s on mythology. I like to think of myself as a mythology enthusiast so of course I want to read this one too. This is another book I visit every time I go to a bookstore and I never buy it. I always tell myself “It’s not time yet.”
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
…because it’s always recommended to me and it has received great reviews. Plus, I’ve read that Coelho’s parents tried to turn him from becoming a writer by committing him to a mental institution three times. That made me want to know more about him and his work. Like The Psychopath Test, I pick it up every time I visit the bookstore but always leave it behind. “Next time I’ll get it.”
I now realize that I should write about the books I read soon after completing them. If I wait, I will forget important things that I wanted to mention. Such is the case with this read. All I can recall of my immediate reaction upon completing it is that it’s still my least liked book in the series.
The first time I read this book, years ago, I was turned off by Harry’s angst and hardheadedness. This time it’s because of the same reasons plus the fact that Harry refused to do his homework and practice Occlumency, assuming that he knew best and could prowl around Voldemort’s mind without Voldemort being aware. Of course, this reason could also be attributed to his immense hardheadedness.
Many things happen in this installment, afterall, it is a pretty big book. Things become more serious and though there are a few comical moments, the tone of the story is more mature. Harry and his pals are teenagers and are learning the ways of the world, including the fact that adults can’t always be trusted. In this installment, Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, blatantly refuses to believe Lord Voldemort is back. He believes that Dumbledore simply wants to take his position as Minister of Magic. Fudge retaliates by discrediting Dumbledore and Harry Potter in the newspaper The Daily Prophet and places an informant, Dolores Umbridge, at Hogwarts to keep an eye on Dumbledore’s activities. Dumbledore simply sees Fudge as a nuisance because he has more important things to worry about—the return of Lord Voldemort.