creative commons photo courtesy of Alberto Alvarez-Perea
- 2007 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author - J. K. Rowling
My wife and I planned a trip recently where we would spend between 25 and 30 hours driving in our car. We both enjoy listening to audio books but our tastes and interests are different. I enjoy books on politics, biographies, military history, true crime, and legal thrillers. She is more likely to enjoy suspense and mystery novels, books on metaphysics spirituality, and romance. What were we to do? We asked the advice of our son, Samuel, who works at the Springville Road Branch of the Birmingham Public Library and he suggested Harry Potter audio books. We were skeptical but he checked out the first three books for us and we took them on the trip. We both had seen all of the Harry Potter movies but did not comprehend the complex plots devised by J. K. Rowling. We saw the movies out of curiosity concerning all of the media hype. After listening to the books, we became Harry Potter fans.
For me the books were fun because they contain all of my favorite types of reading. There was the politics of the Ministry of Magic and the meeting of the Minister of the wizarding community with the muggle (non-wizard) Prime Minister. The stories were biographical because we learned the pedigree of Harry Potter and other characters. Also, they were comparable to military history because of the war between the Dark Lord and the Order of the Phoenix. There was true crime due to the mischief and murders caused by the Death Eaters. And there were even elements of a legal thriller as Harry was put on trial for performing under-age sorcery outside of wizard school. My wife, Pat, enjoyed the suspense, the thrills, and the fantasy elements, the supernatural features, and the romantic interplay hinted at between certain characters.
The audio books were all unabridged and they were very well read by the narrator. Although reading is not how I would describe this listening adventure. These books were performed by Jim Dale. He was masterful in creating the voice of each character, whether male or female, wizard or human, elf or giant, and so on. Each character came to life
through Dale’s portrayal of a unique voice. He was perfect for the narrator’s role as he has won a Grammy Award, a Tony Award, three Audie Awards, and he has an Academy Award nomination.
Another highlight for us was to go back and view each movie - five have been produced to date - immediately after listening to the audio book. The movies now made sense. The characters were clearer. We understood the background and the complicated plot created by the author.
The Harry Potter septology was written in the decade of 1997 through 2007. It has proved to be a publishing phenomenon. But to the busy person or the person who feels they cannot commit the time to reading very long books, our alternative of listening to the books and then viewing DVD’s was terrific. And best of all, each media version is available at the libraries of Jefferson County.
Samuel A. Rumore, Jr.
Trustee, Birmingham Library Board