Kelly @ Belle of the Literati is hosting a fun challenge for bloggers: The Re-Read Challenge! Not much of a “challenge,” per se, because why wouldn’t you want to re-read and re-experience some of your favorites? Sign up and start re-reading!
Book #1 of 2016:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
WHEN I First Read
June 21, 2003, at approximately 12:15am. I read all day and into the night, finishing just before June 22 and in no state to be by myself at that late hour. Because Sirius.
WHAT I Remember
I remember a lot of CAPSLOCK!Harry, a lot of dreams, a lot of dark and scary things, feeling incredibly pissed with Umbridge (so much so I threw my book across the room and left a dent in my wall), and distraught over Sirius. Actually, “distraught” is an understatement. Let’s be honest.
OotP was an emotional read. Both with all of Harry’s emotions and all of mine after waiting ages for this book.
HOW I Felt After Re-Reading
Even more pissed with Umbridge and a little less distraught over Sirius. Here’s why…
UMBRIDGE — She loves scapegoats. She loves control and order, which is fine and dandy when you have a heart (like McGonagall and Hermione). But because she’s heartless and takes pleasure in others’ pain, she is worse than Voldemort. She also has issues with anyone who is not like her: pureblood, wealthy, pro-government, human. Any half creature (Hagrid, Firenze, Flitwick), any human with extra abilities (Trelawney’s Sight, Harry’s Patronus, Fred and George’s wit), anyone who questioned her judgement with logic or reasoning. She reminds me of closed-minded right-wing politicians, and we all know they make me rage.
SIRIUS — As an adult rereading OotP for the first time (I reread the others multiple times, but never OotP till now), I can see Sirius’s flaws. I’m not as distraught over him, but he still makes for a great character study. He was a father and a friend for Harry. He was the adult male who was closest to his parents, and therefore a father figure. He was a friend to Harry, because Sirius was not quite up to the task of being a father. Besides, neither one of them knew how to have that father-son relationship, as neither character had a father or son to compare the experience to.
Sirius is also a hypocrite, but not in a way that makes you hate him. He tells Harry to treat others with kindness, that you know everything about a man based on how he treats those below him. And yet Sirius was cruel to his house elf. I understand why, but it doesn’t quite excuse his behavior. He was also vicious with Snape — and again, I understand why — but Sirius never attempted to try to make peace with Snape as adults. He never tried to trust him like Dumbledore asked of the Order. The Weasleys could do it, Lupin and Tonks could do it. It’s called being civil. But Sirius never was.
I think Sirius may be one of the most human of characters in the series. He is forever trapped in a time when his friends were young, he’s traumatized by the horrors of Azkaban, he has moments of wisdom and moments of weakness. It’s a tragic life, and I can forgive him for his hypocrisy.
WOULD I Re-Read Again
It was an emotional read this time around, too. It may be another 10+ years before I pick it up again, though the rest of the series will always be reread without question.
What books have you re-read recently?
17 thoughts on “#ReRead2016 Book 1: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”
I commute to work, so I have the entire collection of HP books that I recycle through periodically. I’m in love with Jim Dale’s voice to start with, but every time I listen to one of the books I truly do get something new from it. In OOTP, the scenes between McGonnagal and Umbridge are priceless. Overall, it’s not my favorite of the HP series because I find myself so frustrated with Dumbledore. For such a brilliant man, I want him to have more insight into what it must feel like from Harry’s perspective being shut out all summer and then getting the cold shoulder from his headmaster. And did he really have no knowledge that Umbridge was literally torturing Harry during detentions? This is probably the one I’ve reread the least, so I’ll start in today just to see how my opinions might have changed. I enjoyed reading your post. 🙂
Yes, Dumbledore is an odd character. He’s made some strange decisions for Harry and for the school all throughout the series. I’ve noticed through my rereads though that he goes from this magical, wonderful leader in Harry’s young mind to this flawed, old, mortal man by the end of the series. We watch Harry grow up and realize that the adults in his life are just as flawed as him/his friends. Just like us as we grow older — our parents aren’t perfect, and we realize these things with each passing year.
Wasn’t the scene where Harry saw his dad and Sirious bullying Snape hard to read? It was telling that Harry didn’t tell Ron and Hermione about that. JK does such an amazing job of creating characters we feel like we know personally. 🙂
SO hard! He’s watching something that ACTUALLY HAPPENED, even though his father was, at the time, the same age as him. It’s hard to have your perception of your parent shatter over one event. Poor kid.
My Childhood Bookshelf
I’m glad I’m not the only one with the audio books on recycle. I have them on my ipod and on loop in my car but I have Stephen Fry’s version. His voice is wonderful and I hear it whenever I look at the printed versions of the books now.
I’m going to have to give him a listen to compare his voice to Jim Dale. 🙂
I kind of afraid re-reading this book because well, Sirius. I think this is the saddest book of them all. Harry finally got the chance to meet someone who’s like a father to him, who knew his father and wanted to know him and care for him (I feel like Lupin wanted to, but his “condition” wouldn’t allowed him) only to be ripped out from him all over again. And I feel sad when I think about Sirius. When he was young he had imperfect family, but I think he was content with his friends and life. The Marauders had each other. And now… Look how each of them turned out. And then when you think about how Sirius and Harry could had communicated throughout the year with the mirror but Harry never even took it out and try? IF ONLY. But yeah, re-reading this book would bring back all the feels again:’) I’m glad you still enjoyed it though!
EVERYTHING YOU SAID. YES. That’s exactly why it took ~10 years before I picked up this book again. The others? No problem, anytime. This one? Nu-uh. It was so hard. Hard when it first came out, hard now as an adult.
Alexa S. (@alexalovesbooks)
I can’t wait to reread Harry Potter this year! I feel like I’ll catch so many more details this time around, and maybe I’ll feel differently about things now that I’m an adult. Glad you enjoyed your reread!
I started keeping track of the number of times Snape looked at Harry directly in the eyes, and what his facial expressions/actions were following it. It’s heartbreaking.
I’ve read OotP twice, though it’s been a few years since my last reread. I like Sirius and find his actions, while not always the kindest (as you write) easily understandable. His death is devastating, and I don’t quite get why Bellatix kills him, while everyone else is casting lesser spells.
Who I really can’t understand in that book is Dumbledore. We’re supposed to think he cares deeply about Harry, but his severely limited interactions (even with the “to protect you” excuse) don’t fly.
My most recent reread is Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. My reread plan for this summer is to read Madeleine L’Engle’s books in chronological order. I want to get the big picture of how they connect.
Dumbledore made some questionable decisions throughout the series. Tumblr likes to point them out in jest, but there’s truth to it.
I love your summer reread plan! Sounds fun and magical.
Looooooove this!! 1. I love all the different covers you included 2. I have plans to reread HP as a series in its entirety soon (? hopefully) because I haven’t reread as an adult either! 3. I ADORED your thoughts on Sirius and found myself nodding my head with your points even though I hadn’t reread myself but know when I read I will probably see everything you saw. 4. Also love how you find Umbridge even worse. My sister (non reader of HP but avid movie enthusiast) asked me and my other sister (reader of all HP) who the morally worst character is and no hesitation we both said Umbridge and non-reader said, worse than Voldemort?! And we’re all, yep. She is the absolute worst in my opinion!
Loved your thoughts! 🙂
1. KELLY! They’re all the covers I own of OotP. Huge fan of collecting (coughhoardingcough).
2. Reading HP as an adult gives you an entirely new perspective on things. You’re re-experiencing everything as a kid, so there’s nostalgia involved. You notice things you didn’t notice/remember from before. And you realize just how DEEP and DARK the series is. It’s scary.
3. Oh, thank you! Sirius is a tricky character, and I still love him.
4. “Morally worst character” what an excellent choice of words. Rather than “worst character” or “most frightening” or “biggest villain.” (All of them I’d still answer Umbridge.)
My Childhood Bookshelf
I still think OOTP gets a bad rap sometimes. For me, Harry acted just like a fifteen year boy who is pushing the envelope. I do skip the Hagrid’s Tale on all of my rereads though. I have major problems with Hagrid and was always waiting for him to die. I still can’t believe he survived the series. I also remember being very distraught over Sirius the first time around. He was my favourite character and it was tough to read, but it made sense in Harry’s story arc. I can look at it that way now I have distance 🙂
It’s funny you mention Hagrid and your dislike for him — I, too, had something of a love/mild dislike for him, mostly because I didn’t see why the trio relied on him so much. He’s a quirky man and pretty dim-witted, but even Hermione could’ve been more frustrated with him (or even suggested very early on that he shouldn’t have been a teacher). On the other hand, he’s an accessible father figure to Harry from beginning to end, and JKR was always going on about Hagrid’s symbolism and what those two characters meant for each other.
My Childhood Bookshelf
I think I appreciated Hagrid as one of the important adults in Harry’s life, but I couldn’t deal with his crying and moping. He was like a big kid who had to keep being rescued by the trio, a weepy kid 🙂