Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Book 58 of 2014: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (J.K. Rowling)

By the end of last year I got caught up in reading a bunch of shorter books, both on my Kindle and in book-book format. There's something about the run up to Christmas that just makes me want to curl up with a good book, but often I don't have that much time to actually sit and read. There's all sorts of things to be done, Mr Click's birthday, wedding anniversaries (my own and my in-laws'), Christmas shopping, wrapping, decorating; it's hard to actually sit down and get absorbed in a long book. Plus I'm constantly aware that every minute I spend reading a non-Christmas book is a minute I could be reading something more festive (and there's only a very small window of opportunity each year to read those Christmassy books).

So I was pretty pleased that the book which cropped up next on my bookcase was J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them. It's the Comic Relief 2001 release of Newt Scamander's textbook in the Harry Potter series. It's like an encyclopaedia for all the fantastical creatures which crop up in the Harry Potter series and it's even got annotations from Harry, Ron and Hermione.

I read this about a month after I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows which meant that the wizarding world was still pretty fresh in my mind. Who am I kidding? I've been so obsessed with these books for so long, and I've read and reread them so many times that I think half the time my brain is at Hogwarts (when it's not paying a visit to Middle-earth).

Whenever I reread these books I can't help but be taken back to when I first read them as a teenager. It came out not long after I first discovered the world of Harry Potter and it felt like I was being privy to actual wizarding secrets. It is especially cool to think that there are things in this book which hadn't been mentioned in the main book series until this point. It's easy to forget that when you read them after the rest of the series; perhaps next time I do a reread I should reread them chronologically and then I'll appreciate the hints of things to come a little more.

I love the little comments from Harry, Ron and Hermione but there aren't enough of them. Obviously I wouldn't expect Hermione to write in the margins of books too often, but it's almost a given for Ron and Harry. I wish this book had more of those.

There are lots of little comments which I suspect are there mainly for the benefit of adults reading the book (either for their own enjoyment or to children). I also like the footnotes which expand on points in some of the entries, they're often quite tongue in cheek.

My one complaint about this book (and it's companion book Quidditch Through the Ages) is that it's not long enough. Or if it had to be this length, I just wish there were more of them. I'd love to read Hogwarts, A History.

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