100 Books 100 Blogs: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
How many books did you read last year? I read several, but I can’t be sure just how many I finished between reading for work and general interest. I know I finished several on Oyster (RIP), about two dozen in the office, and five terribly long books about some whiny brats in Westeros. I didn’t have a goal though, so I ended up watching a lot of Top Gear and old episodes of The Office as well. Probably not the best use of my time since I have plenty of books on the shelves begging to be read.
I read a Tim Challies article discussing the very real possibility of reading 100 books in a year. This crazy feller says a person can read two books a week when diligent and for some inane reason I’m going to give it a try. To help keep me somewhat accountable I thought I’d write up some informal thoughts to go along with each book once it was finished.
Let’s start with something light, shall we?
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Leia and Anna are sitting in the living room when I walk in and say, “I don’t think Gilderoy Lockhart is as smart as he lets on.” They explode into laughter leaving me more than a little confused. I was about halfway through the second Harry Potter book and was admittedly far behind them in my knowledge of the wizarding world. I’d have to finish the book before I’d understand why that was so funny.
Yes, I’m reading Harry Potter. No, I haven’t read it before. I don’t think it’s evil (although starting a book series with two short books and then drastically increasing the page count as it goes on may qualify). I’m reading Harry Potter because my ten year old daughter loves it and I’d like to talk about it with her. I’m also reading it to figure out if I would be a Ravenclaw or a Gryffindor as the internet quizzes taken thus far are inconclusive.
What can I say about The Chamber of Secrets that won’t give away the ending for the few English speakers out there who have yet to read J. K. Rowling’s fantasy epoch? For starters, it does a good job building up the characters we were introduced to in The Sorcerer's Stone. Harry, Ron, and Hermonie are all a little wiser, despite the fact that they still can’t seem to stay out of trouble. We see more spells and potions and odd creatures just outside the periphery of the muggle world. The stakes are higher too as an unseen enemy is attacking the students and staff of Hogwarts causing no lack of trouble for everyone associated with the institution. It is a nice increase in tension.
The main theme I took from the book was the question of identity. Harry has doubts about whether or not he is in the correct house. Let’s face it, he causes even more trouble than the older Weasley brothers and the Sorting Hat did say that he would do well in Slytherin. This question of “who am I, really?” is a common one for the fantasy genre. Jon Snow needs to know who his family is, Luke needs to learn more about his father, and Ender has all sorts of issues finding his place in the universe. It speaks to the common problem all people feel at times of knowing where they fit in in the world.
As a Christian, this problem is pretty well sorted out for me. My identity is in Christ. No matter what happens with my career, my family, or my friends I have confident assurance that my place and person-hood are secure in the action of my creator. So while I empathize with Harry and his doubts I have greater assurance than him as my hope rests on the promises of God rather than the rantings of a questionable piece of head wear.
On the Shelf
When you plan to read two books a week you have to keep looking forward to what comes next. I have a number of books that I plan on getting to at some point this year including Frame’s History of Western Philosophy and Theology, Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat, and Needleman’s Why Can’t We be Good? All of these have been sitting on the shelf far too long. I’ll also be checking out some puritan writers, church fathers, and the ever popular church growth books. Don’t be surprised if I reread Fight Club and Robinson Crusoe, two of my favorite works of fiction. Until then, the following books are next on my list.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J. K. Rowling
The Cross of Christ, John R. W. Stott
The Jesus Way, Eugene H. Peterson
Martin is the Preaching Minister at Glennville First Christian Church and 50% of the Two Bearded Preachers. Click here to listen to his podcast.