Today, July 31st, marks the 43rd anniversary of the birth of Jo Rowling, better known to anyone who’s been near a bookstore in the past 11 years as "J.K." Without her, the world would be a far poorer place today. Even if you have never read the Harry Potter books, even if you don’t like them, even if you eschew all things related to them and the movies based on them, you must admit that they have done some serious good: They have managed to get more young people interested in reading than any other series of books ever has.
I started reading the Harry Potter books with the first one, before it became a phenomenon, when the only way to get the book was to order it from the U.K. I wasn’t a father yet, then, but I knew instantly that I wanted to read the rest of the books, and that I wanted to save them for when I had kids to read them as well. There was just something about them that marked them as Instant Classics. I’m among the crazy people who showed up at my local bookstore for the midnight events for the last two books. I did this partly because I really wanted to read the books, naturally, but mostly because of the sheer joy of beholding what I saw: A huge crowd of people, many of them teenagers, who were waiting for hours late at night because they were anxious to read a book, and a really long one at that.
I’m still amazed at the devotion people have to these books. Right now the #3 and #4 spots on Amazon.com’s bestselling books list are the Standard Edition and the Collector’s Edition (which costs $100!) of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which won’t be published until December 4th.
And how bad is it that I’m desperately resisting pre-ordering it myself?