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Help a N00b: Harry Potter... Books or Movies First?

Help a N00b: Harry Potter... Books or Movies First?

I know! It’s full-blown lunacy. I’ve seen every other major sci-fi/fantasy movie franchise (other than The Matrix, which also gets me the occasional boo/hiss) and everyone I know under the age of 50 has seen the movies or read the books, usually both. But not me! I have not seen a single Harry Potter flick, nor have I read a page of the books. My friend had to explain to me that a Dumbledore was not, in fact, a prime way to insult someone’s intelligence.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t trying to make some anti-wizard statement, and I’m not one of those people who shuns something just because it’s wildly popular. It just felt like the series exploded suddenly, and before I realized it, I was like 2-3 books/flicks behind. By then, it had sorta become this instant classic, and I thought it was best to avoid it at all costs until it was totally finished, when I planned on devouring it all at once, book after book, or movie after movie, or...

Wait!

Therein lies my issue, Masterminds. With Halloween drawing near, the wonderful world of witches and wizardry feels more appropriate than ever, but I don’t know if I should start by watching the flicks first, or by grabbing the books and settling in for winter. Each route seems to have its merits:

BOOKS FIRST?

—History, experience, and life in general tells us that books are always better. Okay, maybe not always, but most film adaptations never quite capture the idiosyncrasies and details of the books on which they’re based.

—J.K. Rowling has an amazing story, and she’s one of the most successful female writers of our time. I feel almost obligated to read the books first, since this world is her creation.

—I know the books are on the long side. This does not scare me. This reeks of a challenge. I relish a good challenge, especially a literary one!

MOVIES FIRST?

—I loved the first season of Game of Thrones so much, that, naturally, it made me want to read the books. So I did. I read them all before season two even began, and in many ways, I think watching the show first helped me better ascertain meaning and understand the world of Westeros better, because I could picture it. Maybe watching the movie(s) first would give me similar perspective?

—The cast is so appealing! I remember watching the trailers and thinking how Uber cute Rupert Grint and Emma Watson looked together. I also remember a spooky, wild-haired Helena Bonham Carter, and I’m pretty sure I saw David Tennant in there somewhere, so this makes me want to watch them sooner as opposed to later.

—While I DO love a good literary challenge, I also love me some instant gratification. The movies would definitely tell me the story much sooner!

So, any advice for this Harry Potter n00b? Should I grab J.K. Rowling’s tomes? Or should I surrender myself to Daniel Radcliffe and Co. first?

Tags: harry potter, movies, dumbledore, jk rowling, emma watson, rupert grint, books-and-comics

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About the Author
Beth Mishler

Beth Mishler is a writer, producer, and pop culture connoisseur who has a weakness for the Whedonverse and all things sci-fi. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Beth currently lives in The Plains, Ohio, where she freelances, makes documentaries, and watches a kazillion hours of TV per week while anxiously awaiting the release of George R.R. Martin's next novel.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.