Read Alert: The Kids [Books] Are Alright?

Well, folks. It ended. There is no more Harry Potter on its way, and with this last film setting outrageous records, it’s just a matter of time before the whole of America has viewed it and brought their Potter experience to a close.

Except for me. That’s right. You heard me. I have not seen Harry Potter. Not one of them. I’ll also take it a step further and tell you that I’ve not even read a Harry Potter book.

I always thought, “Those are kids books.”

Don’t worry. I feel guilty about it. After all, Harry Potter is the pop culture phenomenon of our time. And no one has to explain to me that Rowling has one of the most fascinating and inspirational stories in all literature history. She’s a champion of the writing world, to be sure, and her name will go down in history.

So, I’ll probably eventually read a Harry Potter. I’ll get around to it whenever I get sick of the looks I get when I confess that I’m not actually on the bandwagon. And when I do finally read Harry Potter, I’ll probably do it in a closet, all shy about it and feeling so immature. I mean, they are kids books, right? Or I’ll see the movies, eyes darting around like those two times I went to the theater to see a Twilight film. (What? I loooove R.Pats. You know you do too.)

Speaking of Twilight, weren’t those books originally written for pre-teens? Teens at the oldest? And I’m sure there’s some controversy over how steamy a teen novel can really be and still fall into its juvenile category, but what we can be sure of is what Barnes & Nobel tells us: that it’s categorized under Youth Fiction.

Where’s all this coming from? I’ll tell you.

The other day, my friend asked, “Sarah! Have you read The Hunger Games?” (Because as a book blogger, I’ve apparently read everything under the sun.)

When I responded that not only had I not read them, I’d never heard of them either, I was greeted with the same shock and awe that comes with not having read Harry Potter, and the friend went on to tell me how he had reserved the whole collection via the public library. And that the waiting list was more than 100 hopeful readers long.

Just a little more probing, and I discovered that The Hunger Games first appeared on the teen scene before becoming the next “it” read. And apparently also is a video game. And soon, a movie.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m fine with mindless entertainment, and who doesn’t love a dramatic yet easy read? But what does it say about us as a reading culture that on the top of everyone’s reading list (or that ridiculously long library wait list) are kids’ books? Why have the past several cultural explosions been originally meant for children?

I’m not going to pry too deep into any “dumbing down of culture” philosophy, but I’m currently in the middle of re-reading Jane Eyre, and all I can tell you is that it takes much more work than I’d like it to. Because wouldn’t it just be easier to read something beneath me for sheer pleasure?

1 comment
  1. hahahaha…

    I actually agree with you, though I’ve read all 7 HP books and the 8 disappointing film adaptations. When I want to “dumb down” and read for pleasure (which is rare because I don’t read in general), I prefer horror novels. I find them invigorating but not completely too… adult? Because fear isn’t as complex an emotion as love or adultry or financial crisis or murder.

    Why am I babbling? Anyway, hurry and go read some HP!

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