Reflections on Re-Reading Harry Potter

At nine years old my mother said to me, “You love to read so much, why don’t you read those Harry Potter books everyone is talking about?” Ever the stubborn girl, I told her I didn’t need her to recommend books to me, thank you very much (I was sassy). Then she bought me the first four books for Christmas. I devoured them in two weeks, and the rest is history.

I remember not being allowed to go to the midnight party for Order of the Phoenix, then being chaperoned to the release party of The Half-Blood Prince. When Deathly Hallows was released, I was deep in mourning. Like so many of us, Harry Potter had been a huge influence on me. Seven years after the last book, here’s why I still can’t resist re-reading them all the time.

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1. They appeal to my childlike wish for magic.

The world we live in is possibly anything but magical. Descending into the pages of Harry Potter means entering a world full of magic that we can only dream about. Little 11-year-old Harry is plucked from his miserable life with the Dursleys and finds a new world where he can find happiness. Reopening these pages means rediscovering this magic and experiencing hope.

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2. They stress the importance of love and friendship.

Hermione said it best when she said, “There are more important things—friendship, and bravery.” Harry Potter taught me about the strong bonds of friendship and about taking risks to protect the people you love. These books also taught me about the strength of love. Voldemort’s evil stems from his complete and utter lack of love, and Harry’s ability to love deeply and unselfishly is the one power he has that is able to vanquish this indestructible evil.

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3. The strong emphasis they place on courage.

So yeah, Gryffindors can be kind of reckless and short-tempered, but then again, so can we all. Harry Potter taught me the value of bravery and of constantly pushing oneself to take chances and never play it safe. Sometimes it gets you into trouble but often, courage means the difference between disappointment and the fulfillment of all your dreams.

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4. It’s effing hilarious

My family always made fun of me when I was a kid for laughing out loud reading these books, but you know what? Over ten years after I first read them, they can still make me crack up. And my family and friends still make fun :)

P.S. I drink a lot of coffee and take pictures of it with books.

Fashion // To Love and Win

Red and lace are my two favorite things. I love this dreamy, romantic outfit, complete with my favorite Paris purse and my new wear-with-everything booties. You’ll be seeing a lot of them on this site in the future! IMG_7553 IMG_7568 IMG_7539IMG_7577 IMG_7541IMG_7597

 

shoes from Nasty Gal, top and skirt from Forever 21, bag from Weezie D.

To love and win is the best thing.
To love and lose, the next best.

–William Makepeace Thackeray

Beauty // Stylin’ Those Curls

I’m one of those girls who never does any interesting hairstyles. I love having my hair down and around my face, headbands pinch my scalp and make my small face look smaller, and having naturally curly hair definitely limits what I can mold my hair into. But, being bored with my hair once in a while, I hit Pinterest to see if I could find curly hairstyles to lift me out of my style rut. Here’s what I found:

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The last two are my favorites. I often do a half-up style but never with that much volume on my crown! And I love the braided side, it adds a touch of something special to my normal, hair-down style.

One thing I’ve noticed about “curly hairstyles” is that they’re all variations on the same basic theme: add a braid, pull it back, tie it in a ponytail. Straight hair is much easier to style and allows so much more freedom! Oh, well.

Do you have any interesting curly hair style inspiration for me?

Novella #5: Alexander’s Bridge

Fifth in my novella a day challenge was Willa Cather’s Alexander’s Bridge. I had only read one Cather before this one, My Antonia, but from what I know about Cather, this book diverged from her normal topic matter. It’s set in the city rather than in the rural West. And it’s unsettling.

9781612191058This is a character-driven novella: Bartley Alexander is an architect gaining world renown for his ingenious construction of bridges in the early 20th century. He is happily married to a woman of grace and talent, yet he is anxious and dissatisfied with success and domestic happiness. Bartley is a former Ivy League student, an energetic, creative soul being bogged down by age. He misseshis youth and vigor, in a rather selfish, annoying way. While on a business trip to London, he meets an old flame, an actress whom he discarded for his wife ten-odd years earlier. He sees her again, and the rest is history.

On that instant he felt that marvelous return of the impetuousness, the intense excitement, the increasing expectancy of youth.

I didn’t love this book. Even flipping through it to write this review, I couldn’t believe how little I remembered, despite having read this book not more than a month ago. I feel like subpar or underdeveloped books are easily forgotten. Strangely, this Cather novel falls into that category for me.

Bartley Alexander is constantly admired and talked about with something like idol worship, but what exactly is so great about him is never apparent. His mistress/former lover, Hilda, has a bubbly personality but her hero worship of the droll Bartley was a little exhausting. Bartley’s wife, the dynamic piano player, was easily my favorite character and the most overshadowed in this slim volume.

The ending is stupid, frankly. It left me with such an empty feeling, as if I’d been cheated out of an ending that would have satisfied whatever emotions had been triggered by reading about this agonizing love triangle. It felt like a cop-out.

Anybody else read any Cather? I loved My Antonia, and recently acquired O Pioneers! so hopefully I find that one more to my liking!

Buy the book at Wordery.com at this link.

Fashion // Setting Sail & Yoyomelody Dress!

I just got this dress from a new sponsor Yoyomelody.com and I instantly fell in love with it when I opened the package. The fabric is really good quality, and the little anchors are stitched rather than printed on it, which I love. It fits me perfectly, and I can tell this dress will become one of my favorite, go-to dresses for both cool and hot weather. I definitely recommend Yoyomelody’s dresses and tops. I also received a casual tee with a cat face on it that I can’t wait to wear!

I wanted to wear this dress when I was in Portland, but it didn’t come in time. Oh, well! I wore the dress with my favorite new shoes from Nasty Gal, which I got for 50% off :)

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dress c/o Yoyomelody, hat from Forever 21, boots from Nasty Gal

Bookstore Hopping // Sherman’s Books in Portland, ME

Exploring Portland last week, I remarked to my friends that I hadn’t found a bookstore yet. And then I looked up and saw one. It was kind of insane. The bookstore was called Sherman’s Books & Stationery, and it was lovely. Half of the items inside were of the “nautical souvenir” persuasion, but as a tourist, I appreciated it just the same. But the thing I loved best about this indie were their methods of categorizing their books. Take a look:

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The extensive and well-stocked Fiction stacks are titled with phrases like “Not True,” “Don’t Believe A Word,” and “Still Not True.” A quote from Harry Potter comes to mind: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” ;)

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Excellent idea: book shopping carts! Take it from someone who is tired of stacking heavy books on one arm while balancing a coffee cup in the other during long hours at a bookstore: these are necessary and should be placed in every serious bookstore.

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Described as “Maine’s Oldest Bookstore,” Sherman’s Books & Stationery boasted a whole section of “Maine Fiction,” which I loved. The best thing about visiting and buying from indie bookstores is the local flavor you won’t get from a Barnes & Noble. The only trouble was the new-book prices! I have a preference for buying secondhand, cheap books :)

Check out Sherman’s Books & Stationery’s website and Facebook page, and make sure to give them a visit if you’re ever passing through Portland, Maine!

Ah, Bartleby! Ah, humanity!

Fourth in my novella a day challenge was Melville’s classic Bartleby the Scrivener. You know—”I would prefer not to.” :)

This is the second time I’ve read Bartleby the Scrivener. The first time was for a literature class in college with the theme of disobedience, and my heart poured out to Bartleby the batty as I read. It’s a mystery why he acts the way he does, why he “prefers not to,” why he doesn’t move out of his boss’s office when he is dismissed and turned out. Why doesn’t he do anything? And then there’s the way the novel plays on your sympathy, the way it forces you to examine questions about what we owe to our neighbor, to our fellow man.

9780974607801I’ve always loved Bartleby even if I never understood him. Indeed, the narrator doesn’t understand him—not until the last line. The ending phrase of “Oh, Bartleby! Oh, humanity!” links Bartleby’s behavior with the plight of the whole of mankind. How? Bartleby refuses to conform. He refuses to obey. Some critics think that Melville wrote the character of Bartleby as a parody of Henry David Thoreau’s brand of civil disobedience, but I think the last line makes this assumption less likely. The unnamed narrator, and indeed Melville himself, clearly has sympathy for Bartleby’s situation, even if it is self-inflicted. There’s a reason why we feel bad for Bartleby. What is it?

It’s just—Bartleby is so isolated. He doesn’t have a home or family, but he never asks for charity. He refuses money from his former employer, and treats him with respect, never asking for help or even sympathy. The only thing “wrong” with Bartleby, in the eyes of the world, is that he refuses to take part in ordinary societal activities. You know, like working when your employer tells you to work, or having a home. Simple things like that.

I think, at its heart, that this book subtly explores the consequences of being different in this world. Bartleby doesn’t hurt anyone, but he is a blight on society and an unendurable burden on his neighbors, simply for existing. They’re annoyed he loiters in the office building, even though he does nothing and asks for nothing. Are we, as a society, that unsympathetic to the oddities and eccentricities of our neighbors? Has this changed since Bartleby was written? It’s interesting to think about.

Rambly post, I apologize. What do you think about Bartleby? Have you read the novella? Do you sometimes “prefer not to?” :)