Apr 15 2011 4:00pm

Harry Potter Virgin Club Roundtable: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Ron, Harry, and Hermione — Year 1The inaugural meeting of the Harry Potter Virgin Club is officially called to order. On the docket for today: Reactions to Book 1, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the form of a roundtable discussion between lizmaverick, Streanor, and redline_.

redline_: Third time really must be the charm—I finally made it all the way through the first Harry Potter—SCORE! As for what I thought of was OK. Enjoyable, even. But personally, I just want to get through the first couple books so that I can get to the promised Ron/Hermione, a relationship (or ship) that sounds right up my alley.

Streanor: I have to admit I also jumped on the Harry bandwagon a bit late... I was about 17 when I picked up the first book. I simply loved it; yes, it lacked swooning romance, but I enjoyed the entire world J.K. Rowling created. Everything from what they eat to where they shop is explained with impeccable detail—so much so that you can’t help but imagine yourself in this world. The beauty is that you will grow with these characters and form deep bonds with them in the adventures that they will have. When the time comes for those hormones to finally kick’ll be on the edge of your seat rooting on for some snogging!

lizmaverick: Okay, so I start reading this book.  It’s the third time I’ve tried.  (Which means I’m not entirely a virgin.  I’ve sort of, er, “fooled around”.)  And I’m thinking, Oh god, not that thing with the owls again. All I can remember from my earlier attempts is getting stuck on this long sequence involving Harry’s acceptance letter to school and some persistent owls. But this time I’ve promised to see it through, so I get past the owls. And then we get on this train and there’s this whole bit about gross jellybeans, and I’m thinking to myself, Well, this is a rather pleasant children’s book. Somebody explain to me again why it’s an international sensation. And then Harry gets to school and things start to pick up a little bit. I’m kind of a sucker for things involving training and selection, which is probably why I’m the only person who admits to enjoying both G.I. Jane and The Cutting Edge. So the selection process is kind of fun, and I’m happy that Hermione and Ron have entered the picture, but my mind keeps wandering to more engrossing topics like how many cookies are left in the kitchen and the fact that we really need to call a plumber to do something about that dripping sound. I’m almost done now and I realize a couple of things:  1) I want to keep reading but I’m not sure whether it’s out of obligation, 2) Ron seems way more appealing as a romantic hero possibility in the book then he did in the movies, 3) I’ve eaten all the cookies, and I will probably not call the plumber until it’s time to move to another apartment.

Streanor: when I heard you mentioned a reference of G.I. Jane in your reaction to the book, I tried to imagine how there could possibly be any connection between the two (I mean...Hermione is out to prove herself too, but I can’t ever imagine her shaving her head). I can see what you mean, though, Harry is in training and it is fun to watch him along with his fellow classmates develop their character. Unfortunately, there is no cheesy '80s montage featuring a popular Journey song in the background that helps to speed up the process, but it’s story-building, and these things take time! Also, the book is short and a speed read, so the great thing is, even if you are slightly bored because it lacks “adult” content, the commitment is minimal. Since you already have the “back story," you can move on and read the next book where you graduate to more serious issues and relationships. I know I feel like I’m going to say this a million times: Keep reading!!

redline_: Liz, you said you’d thrown in a G.I. Jane reference, but failed to mention The Cutting Edge also made the, er, cut, which, hello! That’s way more important. But, okay, moving on. I love training too! My favorite part in the new Star Trek was totally the Academy scenes, so, yes, I completely agree the book got much more interesting once Harry started at Hogwarts. And I must admit that I did start to get that feeling of, “Hey, maybe the appeal of these characters won’t ALWAYS be so lost on me!” toward the end when poor Ron got hurt by sacrificing himself in the chess game. Which, a) who knew that was such a dangerous sport?! and b) remind me again why Ron is a beta/unlikely hero? I find him way more hero-ish than Harry at this point, but maybe that’s just 'cause I spent a lot of the book resenting how much I was obviously supposed to pity and then blindly love Harry, the future savior of his people or whatever. In any case, Ron and Hermione I can see caring about a lot eventually.
lizmaverick: Now that you mention it, redline_, I think the Ron/chess sacrifice was a turning point for me as well. I also find him way more hero-tastic than Harry. In fact, Harry is too “it’s all about me/poor me” for my taste. Before I started Book 1, I was kind of thinking that I’d be shipping Harry and Hermione because I couldn’t believe Hermione would go out with such a dolt as Ron, but reading this first book makes me think it’s going to be Hermione and Ron all the way. Here’s hoping Streanor is right that the books get better when it comes to the relationships.


That's all from us! Now for some questions:

For any fellow virgins out there, where are you at with the story and characters? Are you feeling the same as us? Did you enjoy it? Not enjoy it? Planning to give Book 2 a shot?

And for anyone out there rereading, what were your thoughts on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as you first read it? Have those opinions changed over time or in the context of the other books? Any advice for us HP virgins as we move on to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?

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Louise Partain
1. Louise321
Remember, for most of us, this was a new/old fantasy world that could just possibly happen (I am very good at suspending belief if the story is good enough). Harry's attitude? I went along with it cuz he had it pretty bad with his aunt, uncle and nephew. I kind of liked the fact that he was poor in family but full of magical riches while Ron is rich in family and poor in worldly goods. Then you come to Hermione who is just as balanced as a know it all can be. Giants, huge dogs, portraits that talk back to you and walk in and out of view, stores that sell magic wands, interesting sweets and an amazing wizard presiding over the school . . . that's what I remember about the first time I read HPATSS.
Set up helps as the books delve deeper into things that become necessary to the characters. The closer the finale comes the more it helps that you are grounded in the history and pagaentry of Hogwarts because the whole school is about to get shaken to the core. Oh yeah and HPATCOS introduces HWMNBN (He Who Must Not Be Named) as well as the cat out the bag future person of interest to Harry. It also proves that you can't trust a book that talks back to you.
Liz Maverick
2. Liz Maverick
@Louise321 I think you've brought up a good point: is it simply too late to enjoy this series? Once you miss the hype and the excitement, can you ever really love it like someone who loved it at the beginning?

Not to mention, seeing the movies first, you miss out on having all of that delicious magic unfolding before your eyes for the first time when you read.

The Harry Potter Virgins may be doomed! (That said, I've started Book 2.)
3. ReaderCarolyn
I guess I'm into jumping in late (just read #1 this week) because I'm chiming in about a week and a half later on this discussion, too. I also wonder if it's too late, especially after watching all the movies that have come out. For me, I felt like I was just reading the first movie, but I hear it the movies start deviating from book #2 onward, so we'll see how it goes. I'm in for continuing.
Heather Waters
4. hnwaters
Hey, thanks for letting us know you've been reading too!

I know I saw the first movie a while ago, but I don't really remember it, so luckily that didn't affect my reading of the book very much. I hate when I feel like I'm reading a movie, though, so I feel ya!

I started Book 2 last weekend and am enjoying it thus far. I really do think that as they get older, I'll get more into the story.
Heather Waters
5. HeatherWaters
@ReaderCarolyn--Hey, thanks for letting us know you've been reading too!

I know I saw the first movie a while ago, but I don't really remember it, so luckily that didn't affect my reading of the book very much. I hate when I feel like I'm reading a movie, though, so I feel ya!

I started Book 2 last weekend and am enjoying it thus far. I really do think that as they get older, I'll get more into the story.
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