A Sister’s Review: ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’

by Kim on June 7, 2013 · 16 comments

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Long-time blog readers may remember a few years ago when my sister, Jenny, and I read and reviewed each others favorite books. Jenny and I have vastly different reading tastes — she’s into chick lit and lots of YA fiction, which I’m more of a nonfiction and literary fiction gal myself — which made some, I think, interesting conversations.

That picture at the right is me and Jenny when we were kids. I’m the sort-of-blondie on the left and she’s the brunette on the right. Even as young tykes, we loved to read.

One of the series that we both love and have fond memories of reading is Harry Potter. When a group of bloggers started doing a re-read of the series in January I wanted to join along with Jenny, but neither of us could get our ducks in a row. Instead, we decided to save our re-read for this summer. We started last week with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (we both have British editions of that one), and plan to continue through the series until just after Labor Day (if the schedule holds).

I’m not sure what the posting plan is, exactly, but I think we’ll be doing conversational reviews like this as we finish each book (rather than every week as the other HP readalong has done). I hope you enjoy!

What is your first memory of reading Harry Potter?

Jenny: I have small recollections of reading the first couple. I remember the spider and snake in book two freaking me out and trying to read the books as fast as I could so no one could ruin the surprises. But I think my first big memory came when we were reading three or four, the first one that we read the day it came out. We only had one copy that we had to share so we had to take turns. I was slower at reading then you so you would get annoyed at how long I was taking, and I would get mad cause you kept saying that if I just gave you the book you could be done in an hour or two and than I could read it. We fought for several days about who’s turn it was to get to read the book and who had to wait. Then you finished first I was bummed. The next book came out and we did it again and again and again until number seven when we got two copies cause we knew waiting was not an option.

Kim: I remember that too! I think we didn’t get into the series until book two or three, but I definitely remember going to Barnes and Noble with Mom to pick up our copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the day it came out. I think to stop the fighting about who could read when, Mom instituted a system — one person was the “First Reader” who had priority for the book until they were done. But if the First Reader wasn’t reading, the Second Reader could have the book until the First Reader wanted it back. Smart Mom.

What were your thoughts on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? Same or different as you remembered? Favorite or least favorite parts?

harry potter and the philosopher's stoneJenny: I did not realize how much of the action that I remember from the first time that I read it and from the movie happen so late in the book and are relatively short. This book was a lot more about setting up all of the relationships then I remember. In my mind the event in the woods and in the third floor were a big portion of the book and really they were just a small potion at the end. My memory turned these into super long events that were a larger portion of the book. So as I read I kept thinking when are they going to get to these action pieces.

My favorite parts were the magic done by Hagrid in the cabin on the island, the sorting hat portion, and the stuff with Hagrid’s dragon. In terms of least favorite part there was no part I did not like. It moved a littler slower then I remember. I think the others have a little more comedy in them and will be more exciting to read because the audience gets older as the books move on. I am excited to keep reading and reliving my childhood!

Kim: I had the same reaction. This is the one I’ve probably re-read the most, so a lot of it was familiar anyway, but the action and adventure comes really late. It never feels like the book is dragging though. I actually think this one is really funny, but in a quieter way than some of the other books. J.K. Rowling’s descriptions are just goofy (I love the opening about Aunt Petunia having a longer-than-average neck), and she has some great one-liners like how Harry, Ron and Hermoine are friends because you can’t battle a troll without becoming friends. But it’s also really more of a kids book than the books later in the series are.

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