But none of this explains why I’d read each book until way past my bedtime, forcing myself to slow down as I approached the last fifty pages so I could savor every syllable. Or why I’ve spent so much time over the last fifteen years analyzing my favorite passages with everyone I know, until long after the eyes of my friends and my family and strangers on the bus go glassy with disinterest. It doesn’t explain why to this day, nothing quite compares to Harry for me. I read voraciously, across all genres, trying each time to recapture that feeling I had when I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the sensation of two doors opening inside my head—one leading into the outside world, huge and new and endlessly interesting; the other leading inward to myself, whole reserves of memory and emotion and sensation that I did not yet know about or understand. I’ve loved many books in the years since I first read Harry Potter, but I’ve never again had that curious, enveloping feeling, the feeling that the book loves me back.Booktrust sought to find the favorite children’s book in the UK, and what they found happens to be my favorite book, so here I am talking about loving it.
I was twelve when I first met Hermione, and as a reader of books and a lover of telling people when they’re wrong, I related to her immediately. Over the course of the series, Hermione only got better: more brilliant, more stubborn, more compassionate. She is the brightest witch of her age, an outspoken advocate for the rights of house elves, a casual time-traveler, and—perhaps most importantly—the only person in the whole of the Harry Potter universe who has ever bothered to read Hogwarts: A History. I love how Hermione stands by Harry to the bitter end, risking her life for the people she loves and a cause she believes in. Even now, fourteen years after first making her acquaintance, when faced with a challenge of any caliber, I look to her. ‘What would Hermione do?’ I ask myself, and then I try my best to do it.Hot Key Books let me talk about my favorite topic—Girls Doing Stuff—over at their blog today in connection with my novel, Vivian Versus the Apocalypse. Read it! Do it for Hermione!
- The Portable Dorothy Parker. This lady was one stone cold bitch.
- Artifice Magazine, Vol. 4. My friend Steev Gillies has a story in this issue called “Skybeard,” and it is really good! Here is the opening: “Throughout all of history there have been many heroes blessed with the power of flight. Apollo. Superman. Hawkman. Angel. Countless heroes. So many heroes they could never be indexed, cataloged, or even remembered. But this one. This one has a beard.”
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz. I would maybe not have given this book a Pulitzer, but I would definitely have given it an enthusiastic high-five.
- "A Brief Encounter with the Enemy," Saïd Sayrafiezadeh. On the How Excruciatingly Boring Was This New Yorker Story scale, I thought this one rated relatively low. Congratulations to everyone involved. I read this outside Carnegie Mellon University on a windy day.
- The Wheel of Love and Other Stories, Joyce Carol Oates. This is Joyce’s third story collection, originally published in 1970, so you will certainly see the word “Negro” bandied about more than you would like. I can’t make up my mind about J.C.O.—like, she wrote “Where Have You Going, Where Have You Been,” which is a BOSS short story if you haven’t already read it, but she also dedicated it to Bob Dylan? Who does that?
- "Hilarious, in the Wrong Way," Stephen Ornes. This was good!
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling. Kevin bought me this book for Christmas the first year we were together and would have you know that he’s given many more impressive and original gifts since then, but the thing is I couldn’t bring myself to read it because once I did, where would I direct all my anticipatory Harry Potter energy, but now we’ve got Pottermore, and I don’t care what anyone says about Pottermore, I really love it, I think it’s pretty to look at and I’ve won many points dueling 13-year-olds from the Philippines, I don’t want to tell you how many points, actually, because it’s kind of a lot, and that’s embarrassing, anyway, all you need to know is what you probably already knew, which is that this slim volume made me laugh and cry, prodigiously.
- "Labyrinth," Roberto Bolaño. Did not fare as well on the How Excruciatingly Boring Was This New Yorker Story scale.
- The Best American Comics 2010, edited by Neil Gaiman. Let’s read more comics, self!
- "The World to Come," Jim Shepard. I felt that this short story about two nineteenth-century farmers’ wives falling in love was very good; I also felt a little bit like I was reading a lost entry from the Dear America series.
- Captain America = Gryffindor
- Iron Man = Slytherin
- Black Widow = Ravenclaw
- Hulk = Hufflepuff, OBVIOUSLY.
Lately before making a purchase, I’ve asked myself, “Does this object even remotely resemble a Horcrux?” If the answer is yes, I buy.