Books good enough to reread: Harry Potter

by JK Rowling

I haven’t posted in here for quite a while. This is because my students have discovered Harry Potter.

They come to me with this joy as they are discovering the books for the first time so I picked them up to reread.

It’s been several years since I’ve read the series and they have not lost any magic. They are full of joy and pain and humor and sadness and this wonderful world that you can’t help but wish to be a part of.

I hope you’ve read the Harry Potter books already- and even if you have, please reread them. The world cannot have too much Harry Potter.

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The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Ahhh. The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Is a review of a J.K. Rowling Book necessary? Absolutely. For those who don’t know about this book. The Tales of the Beedle the Bard was published after the seventh Harry Potter Book, The Deathly Hallows. And is, in summation, a collection of fairy tales written by Beedle the Bard for young boys and girls of the wizarding world. Now made available to all muggles thanks to Hermione Granger who translated it from Ancient Ruins, with forward and commentary by Albus Dumbledore. Complete with footnotes.

Holy Quintapeds!

It’s safe to say I grew up with the Harry Potter books. They got me through Junior High. They were with me for all my teenage years. And when the last movie came out, a nail in the coffin of my childhood had been hammered.

When I picked up The Tales of the Beedle the Bard it took me back to two little books entitled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Throughout the Ages.
These escort books, while short, are great additions to your Harry Potter Library.

In particular, The Tales of the Beedle Bard is a fun leisurely read. I plan on reading it my kids one day. The stories are clever and creative and follow many traditional fairy tale tropes. Things coming in multiples of three and some tragic endings ala The Brothers Grimm. However, the general twist of these fairytales is wonderful here is a small excerpt from the beginning of the book.

“Beedle’s stories resemble our fairy tales in many respects; for instance, virtue is usually rewarded … However, there is one obvious difference. In Muggle fairy tales, magic tends to lie at the root of the … troubles … In The Tales of Beedle the Bard, on the other hand, we meet heroes and heroines, who can perform magic themselves, and yet find it just as hard to solve their problems as we do.”

Those still craving for a Harry Potter fix now that all is said and done, if you don’t own this book pick it up, it’s worth a read, especially the commentary by Dumbledore.

The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree a short novel by Ray Bradbury

Enter. If you will, for just a moment. An autumn evening as the sun begins to set, the smell of fall leaves overwhelms your senses, it’s chill but not cold enough to see your breath. It’s Halloween Night.

As I re-read this book every Halloween since I was old enough to read short stories on my own. It never, not once, in all these years has lost its magic. It’s single handedly a very memorable and charming read.

The short story follows the adventure of eight young boys on an amazing journey through space and time as they learn about the traditions of Halloween nights from cultures and times gone by. Led by the frighteningly mysterious Mr. Moundshroud.

Why do we wear the bones of skeletons, and carry the brooms of witches on Halloween? What is it about this one evening that enchants the mind? A night that brings the spirit world closer with the real world.

This book does a clever job of answering just those questions. With an ending so touching and enchanting that it still gets me a little choked up.

Perhaps because the book starts and finishes in a small midwest town similar to my own it hits a little closer to home. Or perhaps, that Halloween resonates a feeling of great mystery and longing that all of us can connect with.

If you’re looking for a Halloween read. Look no further than the Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury.

Books We Love Enough to Reread: Ender’s Game

There are some books that I read almost every year. There are some books that I close, wait a moment, and open to read again immediately. These books are in a special category. They are layered and every read brings a new detail to light, shows a new side to a character, changes how you view the relationships.

In honor of those books, let’s start a series. These books will have their own category. If you click the genre, rereadable, you’ll come across a list of these greatest of books.

To kick off the series, we start with Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

Some of you may or may not be science fiction readers. Sometimes books are so good that it doesn’t matter.

Ender is six when the book begins. He is incredibly intelligent and lives in a futuristic world where the government is looking for a savior of sorts. The one to save the world. Ender is the third child, a “third,” which is both an honor and a social stigma. It means that the family has shown enough promise to keep having children, hoping for that miracle.

Ender is enlisted into a battle training program on a space station. He is enrolled in different armies within the school. He fights battles and is catapulted to greatness. Ender fights everyone who tries to hold him back, from his evil brother to the school bullies who are prepared to kill him.

This book is almost indescribable in scope and detail and how well you can submerge yourself into a world completely foreign to our own.

During this last read, I found myself reminded harshly again and again of Ender’s age. Only six. I taught kindergarten for a while and tried to picture my students as characters. Engaged in battles and hacking computer systems and influencing world politics. As crazy as it sounds, every word reads as something believable. There are no moments where Orson Scott Card strays to becoming over-the-top or eye-roll worthy. You end up ignoring your family and your job and just want to read for hours. Read until that last word and then you are in that book-limbo where the real world is hard to reenter.

Read Ender’s Game. Comment when you do. Let us know what you think.