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Harry Potter

Love him? Hate him? Think he’s a good example for kids or a bad one? Would you ban him from schools? Let your kid dress up like one of the characters?

There’s a wide range of opinions out there. And Harry Potter mania is at a fever pitch this week, with the fifth movie released last week and the seventh and final book — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — due out this Friday night at midnight.

Love him or hate him, you have to admit his impact on our society. Here’s an interesting article from the New York Times on Jim Dale, the guy who reads the audio version of the books. Over the course of 117 hours and four minutes of reading time for all seven books, he’s come up with more than 200 characters’ voices. For his efforts, he has won a Grammy and set the record for creating the most voices in an audiobook in the Guinness Book of World Records.

There are a couple of audio clips on the page with the article if you want to hear him. He does a nice job.

By the way, if you’re paying attention, you’ve realized that Dale’s job means he knows how the series ends. And he’s not telling. Not even his grandchildren.

Neither are the folks at Scholastic, the American publisher for the Harry Potter books. This article in Time magazine details the efforts they’re taking to make sure the plot remains secret until the “magic moment” when it can be sold — 12:01 a.m. on July 21.

Some of the details:
“Scholastic won’t give out the locations of the printing plants it uses or even how many there are. (As for Bloomsbury, the series’ British publisher, it fiercely denies a rumor that it forces factory workers to print Deathly Hallows in pitch darkness.) The finished books travel to stores on pallets, sealed in black plastic, in trucks tracked by GPS.”

And the conclusion of the article, where the authors nail the joy of reading (although it’s better to read a story the first time without knowing what’s coming):

“People read books for any number of reasons; finding out how the story ends is one among many and not even the most important. If it were otherwise, nobody would ever bother to read a book twice. Reading is about spending time with characters and entering a fictional world and playing with words and living through a story page by page. The idea that someone could ruin a novel by revealing its ending is like saying you could ruin the Mona Lisa by revealing that it’s a picture of a woman with a center part. Spoilers are a myth: they don’t spoil. No elaborate secrecy campaign is going to make Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows any better than it already is, and no website could possibly make it useless and boring.”



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