Reader reviews for Harry, A History - Now Updated with J.K. Rowling Intervie...

There were many times I teared up reading this, just remembering the days where Harry's fate was still a mystery. This was so insightful and so relateable for a Harry Potter fan, I didn't want this to end (just like I didn't want the Harry Potter series to end). Wonderfully written and there were so many aspects in it that I could relate to and realised that was how I felt. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Harry, A History is an account of the personal experiences of Melissa Anelli, webmistress of the fansite The Leaky Cauldron, and other facts and stories surrounding the wild popularity of the Harry Potter series.I love this book because reading about Melissa's experiences really takes me back to my own experiences with the Harry Potter books. Melissa's experience also goes much beyond my own, however, and this adds a lot of interest. She is able to provide a very indepth and behind-the-scenes type look into a lot of aspects of the Harry Potter phenomenon. I would highly recommend this book to others who love Harry Potter for these reasons as well as because it really brings back the emotions and the total atmosphere of reading the books, the long waits in between, and being a part of the "fandom." Even if you haven't read or enjoyed the Harry Potter books, it still serves as an interesting view into what happens when books become so well-loved by so many.I did find a few parts to be overly long, which made them a bit boring, such as the chapter on wizard rock. The more interesting parts, however, more than made up for this. I particularly liked the recounting of the shipping war and Melissa's interviews with J. K. Rowling.
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I have wanted to read this book for a long time. Harry Potter was my life for about ten years, and the characters became my family. While the books were being published, all the other Potter devotees felt like family too. How many hours-days-months did I spend obsessing over every little detail J.K. Rowling let slip, reading MWPP fan-fiction and making fun of the people that actually thought Hermoine would end up with Harry? I'm pretty sure the amount of time I invested in this world is slightly insane - but I'm positive I don't regret a single second.I wanted this book to capture that. For the most part, I think it does. If anyone can understand devoting yourself to Harry Potter, it is Melissa Anelli. She made a career out of it! She accurately captures a lot of great memories from the years when the books were still being released. She had me smiling through a lot of the book. So, while I enjoyed it, I can't imagine a lot of people that don't understand and appreciate the Potter years getting much out of it.In many ways, it tells the story of my generation (it even touches on 9/11!), because no one else will ever read or experience Harry Potter the way we did. We got to be a part of the process - we were told the story a little at a time, so we appreciate each book more than anyone that gets the whole series at once ever could. But at the same time, we can all envy new readers. Melissa Anelli says it well (to set the stage, the following takes place a few days after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows):"I leaned against the metal pole of the subway car as we started chugging into the heart of New York City. If my music hadn't stopped playing I might never have noticed - one, two, three, four at least ten people were holding up their giant orange books. Some were halfway through, some nearly all the way through. Some propped it on their legs, and a few more had taken off the jacket so as not to be inconspicuous. They spanned all ages, and were all engrossed.One young woman, not much younger than me, sat near the end of my eye line; she was reading too, her colorful backpack on her lap and her arms circling it, her book acting as a buckle to hold it in place. I traveled to the next pole down to get a surreptitious closer look; she wasn't reading Deathly Hallows at all. Her book wasn't orange but rose and water and sand, and featured a kid on a broomstick and a white unicorn. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. She didn't notice me staring at her.Oh, I envy you, I thought, but was smiling for her. She had just begun."
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Sadly I bought this book and stuck it on my "Harry Potter" shelf and let it sit there for almost a year before reading it. Once I finally picked it up I was stopping so often to backtrack and share things with my husband that we finally just sat down together and I read it aloud it him. Together we laughed, cried, rejoiced, and groaned while remembering our own HP journey and sharing Melissa's. At the end we just sat on the couch and hugged the book.Now we are reading it again, each on our own, and telling everyone we know to get a copy ASAP.
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For inside information about the history of how _Harry Potter_ was written and published throughout the world, this is a good read. If you are into the online fandom world of Potter, this would be an even better read. As I am not into the online part, it was good, but not great. Some parts felt a little self-important, but it was mostly in the beginning, before Harry Potter became the main focus.
Would I recommend it to Potter fans? Sure... but get it from the library unless you really want to save every detail about Harry for your own posterity.
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This book is a history of the Harry Potter phenomenon, or movement, or fandom, or whatever you want to call it; it's about how and why the Harry Potter books inspired millions of people not just to read them, but to dress up for them, go to parties for them, create rock bands about them, and just generally maintain a ridiculous level of enthusiasm for years on end. It was a great book, but definitely an insider's book. Don't try and read it if you haven't read Harry Potter, definitely. Melissa Anelli was the webmistress for a popular fan website, and gives you the inside view of the whirlwind. My one criticism is that it's pretty heavily autobiographical, and in the early chapters, that dragged a little. I think it was necessary, however, since the true glory of the book is its ability to capture the highly personal excitement both of first reading the books and, most importantly, of the build-up to the release of book 7. I had tears in my eyes for large portions of the book, because it almost, almost, almost recaptured the feeling of being about to finally read Deathly Hallows. The chapter describing the release was very well done. This was a very good book, a chronicle of a movement (although I felt that that was a bit muddled in with the autobiography in places), and a description of a personal journey. It does however, assume some previous familiarity with the Harry Potter scene, I think, so be prepared for that. Overall, I'd highly recommend it for people who remember and are interested in the Harry Potter fervor.
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I confess, I’m a Harry Potter addict. I love J K Rowling’s books. And now, after reading Harry, a History by Melissa Anelli, I finally know that Rowling rhymes with bowling. I know a lot of other things too that I scarcely guessed before, and while I was slightly reluctant to read a real-world Harry tale, I’m very glad I finally did so.Melissa Anelli became web-mistress of the Leaky Cauldron partway through the Harry Potter phenomenon. I remember visiting her site, enjoying her snippets, checking up on release dates, and delighting in her “no spoilers” policy. As I dream more and more of one day being an author, I look to her website as an example of how advertising “should” be done. And then I find myself wondering, how did it all come about.So, at last, I’ve read Melissa’s story and taken an inside look at the selling and advertising, and even the writing, of a wonderfully successful series of books. I’ve learned how Ms Rowling knew and kept her characters’ secrets. I’ve met the film actors and enjoyed their conversation. I’ve seen the workspace, and even, eventually, the home. I’ve imagined that moment when J K Rowling shakes hands and Melissa shakes in her shoes, all words and poise flown like magical spells into nowhere. I’ve shared, and I’ve enjoyed, every turn of the page, and now I’m just waiting for the next film. Like I said, I’m an addict.
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As far as information goes, die-hard Potterphiles aren't going to find much they didn't already know here. What sets Melissa Anelli's book apart from similar works is her personal relationship (dare I say friendship?) with several notables in the HP universe, most notably with J.K. Rowling herself. Anelli is able to offer insights which no other author writing on the HP fandom has been able to. She has visited Rowling's home in Scotland (Rowling is well-known for leading a very private personal life; not just anyone gets invited to her home), she has hit the road with "Wizard Rock" bands like Harry and the Potters, she even traveled down to Georgia to speak with one of those people you hear about on the news who want to ban children's literature. While you won't find any shocking revelations in Harry, A History, you will find a well-written work by someone who is as "on the inside" as it's possible for a fan to be. Hardcore Harry fans will probably have already read this, and I would strongly suggest that casual fans give it a read as well. They will undoubtedly glean more information from it, even if they don't fully appreciate the "inside look" that Anelli has offered the rest of us into a world that we wouldn't otherwise have seen.
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Having read several negative reviews here and elsewhere, I was prepared for a long, boring saga of Harry Potter sites and frequent quotations from message board postings, liberally laced with minutia only a true insider could love. Instead, I got a history – personalized in the very best way – of a series loved by millions of readers around the world, including me. As a librarian I have been touched by the excitement that the release of the later books brought; I occasionally read some of the more famous Harry Potter sites (including Melissa’s own Leaky Cauldron). I listened to a few podcasts and knew fanfic existed, but after reading Harry, a History, I realize I had seen only the tip of the HP phenomenon iceberg.First, a caveat: Melissa’s book concentrates on the meaning of Harry Potter to youth. Oh, it isn’t that she doesn’t mention the adult fan, but the theme of this book is Kid Power, and the unique confluence of the series and the rise of the Internet which gave young people an opportunity to create, interact, and have control over their lives in a way that is generally denied the young. I’m sure there’s another book waiting about how Harry brightened the lives of those of us stuck in our adult ruts of commutes, car payments, and families to support, and I hope some day Melissa will write it. But this book is about growing up with Harry, and how he changed lives.Beyond Kid Power, Melissa gives an in-depth look at many other facets of Harry: the fan sites and the people (in many cases, kids) who ran them; the artistic tributes to Harry in art, (fan)fiction, and music; the anti-Potter movement featuring Laura Mallory who campaigned against the series because she felt it promoted witchcraft; and finally, that rarified world of JK Rowling herself, as Melissa’s interviews (including a famous – or infamous one – with Mugglenet’s owner Emerson Spartz) and interactions with Rowling and her associates gave the reader a glimpse of what was happening to our beloved author.I had one quibble with the book – one that was minor, but awfully annoying by the end. Melissa has a tendency to re-write phrases almost verbatim, for example, repeating her description of how she squinted to avoid spoilers twice just a few pages apart. If you listened to the audio version as I did, you started to think your player was frequently skipping backwards. This was nothing a good editor couldn’t have fixed, but it was distracting.Overall, Melissa’s book is charming, moves along well, and is well worth the time of any Harry Potter fan. I’d especially recommend it to those who only read the books, so they can finally be aware of the magical world that existed around them. How could we have missed it? I guess that’s why they call us Muggles.
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This was a fascinating look at how the evolution of the Interent helped expand and enhance the popularity of the Harry Potter book series. Well written, funny, and an excellent look at the world of publishing in our modern society. Monica
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