Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nostalgia and the Harry Potter series

First things first - congratulations to my dear friend, Ashlee, who just got a publishing deal! You can read all about it over at her blog.  I'm so proud of her, and can't wait to read her story!

So, to be perfectly honest, I had no idea what I wanted to talk about in this post until about...2 minutes ago, when I realized, Oh, wait, TODAY is Wednesday.  I'd been operating under the impression it was Tuesday.  How the time flies when you don't have work.

I had asked via Facebook status what book I should read next - something for work, or something for leisure.  I got many responses, all of them which I liked, but the one that really stood out to me was this:

"You should reread the Harry Potter series!"

And I thought, "By God, I should!" 

It's no secret that I've loved Harry Potter from the minute I picked it up.  It's truly a magical series, and much of that magic comes from the nostalgia of rereading the books.  I used to reread them constantly throughout high school, but fell away from that practice once college started - which is a travesty, I know.  But, it's amazing how childhood obsessions books can have that effect on you. 

Think about it.  Isn't it funny how some books just kind of return to you, in a flash or moment, when you seem to be doing something totally unrelated.  I feel like the most powerful books are like that.  I mean "powerful" in the sense of having staying power.  Perhaps their plot is just magical.  Perhaps it's the individual words, which are so beautifully strung together that they come to you during the most mundane tasks and suddenly enrich your day.  I find that books do this for me far more than any other type of entertainment or medium.  And that's what happened today, when it was suggested I reread Harry Potter.

Needless to say, this evening has been spent scouring the libraries of Tucson for the series.  I know what you're thinking - Alex, you mean to tell me you DON'T already own it??  Yes, I do - well, my family does, at any rate.  But my family lives in Phoenix, and we've actually lost 2 or 3 of the books, so I thought, I'll just borrow them. 

Only I can't.

Because there is not a single copy of Harry Potter checked in to any of the libraries in Tucson at this moment.

Now, this is disheartening, yes, but it's also heartwarming.  It's heartwarming to know that even now, all these years later, it's still so popular.  Now, granted, this may be in part due to the movie coming out in just a few days.  But I think that's the beauty of the series, and a testament to the sheer power of nostalgia and the magical qualities books can have.  It demonstrates that love of literature is still alive and well.  It also demonstrates that the U of A library clearly needs to stock more than just one copy of the book (I mean, C'MON!). 

I'll buy the series for myself someday (after I get a paycheck...).  In the meantime, though, any friends in Tucson who may own them, please consider letting me borrow it. I'll give it back, I promise!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sick Puppy

In what I hope is my final installment of Catching up on posts that are two weeks late due to procrastination, I bring you a review of Carl Hiaasen's Sick Puppy. 

Best described as "an environmentally-focused mystery thriller," Sick Puppy follows Twilly Spree, an eco-terrorist hell bent on teaching those who would deface the planet "a lesson."  After Twilly begins to stalk a perpetually littering Florida lobbyist named Palmer Stoat, he becomes embroiled in a political affair that threatens the environmental integrity of a small island off the coast of Florida named Toad Island. 

With it's breezy prose, fast pace, and hilarious characters, Sick Puppy is, simply put, a riot.  It's an exercise in absurdity, as well - none of the characters are particularly likeable (except for a large black Labrador named Boodle), and the antics of these individuals rank from absurdly corrupt to corruptly absurd.  Everything that happens is yet not.

Hiaasen's writing is strongest when he's talking about politics.  There is no political agenda that gets any reprieve from him; he tackles corruption in politics, lobbyists, and yes, even environmental action.  Hiaasen is no fan of extremism, and therefore while Twilly is a fun character to watch, even if you agree with his politics, you cannot condone his actions.  Everyone in this book is fair game.  Hiaasen is merciless in his handling of politicians and political figures.  And that's what makes it fun. 

Now, Sick Puppy isn't revolutionary or world-shattering.  And that's okay.  It's a fun, easy, and quick read for when you have some downtime or just want a good laugh.  And if you like political intrigue, murder, and mystery, it's got it all here, too.  Either way, it's a good book, and hopefully, you'll enjoy it just as I did.