Harry Potter Makes Me Crabby

When JK Rowling (whose name, by the way, is mightily close to mine. My maiden name, at least. Look: Joanne K. Rowling Janiel Rowley. See? And if I had a middle name it would probably be Kate or something, which would make it all pretty much the same as hers: JK Rowl(ey)ing.  It probably IS my name. I'm probably really JK Rowling and you just don't know it. OOPS. SPOILER.)

So anyway. What was I saying?

Oh yes. When JK's Pottermore went live (Go look at her picture. We're practically twins), I freaked out and bought the entire series for Kindle. And I dove in and have been reading and listening almost non-stop. (Oh yes. You can listen on your Kindle. Just push Shift and Sym simultaneously and you'll get a dulcet robot-voice, programmed with inflection and everything, and it will read the book to you. Cheaper than Jim Dale. Not as nice, but cheaper.) 

What a great little blast from the past! Been having a ball. I've been listening at the doctor's office, at games, at rehearsals, in the W.C., at the gym. Heck, I can even listen to it in my car, using one of those little adapters for iPods. I'm so Potterized I've been waving spatulas at my pots and pans and waiting for them to fill up with dinner. (It'll happen one of these times.)

And then I came to book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Now honeys, I don't know if you're like me, but I get INTO my books. I live them. I breathe them. I look up from them and am completely shocked to find myself vacuuming the living room with my free hand instead of walking around Honeydukes trying to decide between the Cockroach Clusters and the Fizzing Whizbees. If its a good story and a wonderfully built world it imbues me with it's story-ness. It's NESS-ness, if you will.

Well a weird thing started happening with Phoenix. I started feeling, I don't know, crabby. Stressed. Like great injustices were being perpetrated around me. I started telling my kids off if they forgot to tell me something. Began glaring at perfect strangers for acting as if they simply didn't care about how I felt. Noticing every. single. injustice. printed in the newspaper. And it took all of my fortitude to refrain from going to the newspaper office and burning it down.

What the hinkypunk? I don't walk around crabby all the time! I don't tell strangers off! I know the media rarely sends unbiased news out there, and is sometimes not completely accurate! I don't usually care about this stuff. What was going on?

Well. I'll tell you. I was Psycho-Potter-Phoenix-ized. In Order of the Phoenix, Harry is a crab-face. He's recently been traumatized and no one has sent him to the wizarding-therapist (Dr. Myldewy H. Thalamus) (I just made that up. JK Rowling can borrow it if she wants) (Read: I can borrow it if I want). Plus, he's fifteen and his hormones are in an uproar. Not to mention, JK herself was preggo with her son and had hydrant-loads of testosterone coursing through her body for the little dude. I'm pretty sure we saw the results of that in this book. And for whatever reason, I was reflecting it all and sending it back out.

Now, I know I'm not alone in this. My daughter has been reading the book too, and she's been complaining of feeling just as psycho-crabby as I am. She's been just as psycho-crabby as I am.

It kind of makes me nervous. I mean, is it just us? Are we weak-willed people who pick up the mood of whatever we're reading until we actually feel like the characters do? Well, I guess Mr. Dan Wells can kiss our readership of his book I Am Not A Serial Killer goodbye! Not to mention The Hunger Games. Can you imagine? Although I guess it would take care of the problems with my daughter . . . 

Right. I don't think there's any help for it. Letting my Kindle read Phoenix to me all robot-like makes it less jarring. I feel things much less viscerally with that goofy, stilted voice telling the story. But I think after this I'm going to have to limit myself to more innocuous plots and characters. Things like Roget's Thesaurus, and Mrs. Fields' Cookie Book. I mean, I'll be boring. But at least there'll be cookies.

How 'bout you? Do you live your books, or can you just enter the world for a bit and then walk away?

About Janiel 433 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.


  1. Heh. I had *exactly* the same problem when I first read that book; I don’t like the book because I just don’t like how I feel when I put it down. I read it when I’m going through the series because you can’t lose that part of the story, but it bugs me how cranky he is each time I go through the book =]

    • Yeah, and it bugs me how Hermione changes from someone who punched Malfoy in the third book (I think) to someone who cowers and lets Harry yell at her. This is the first time I’ve read the book since it came out. I was hoping I’d feel different, but I don’t. I also kind of think Sirius lost his coolness in Phoenix.

      Ah well. It’s just a book. Right? RIGHT?

  2. Oh, Honey! You are SO not alone when it comes to entering the amazing worlds created by gifted writers (which I might add you are one of the truly gifted! JKR needs to look out, unless that is really you….then Bravo!). I live them, dream them and identify with one or all characters (depending on how “multi” my personalities want to become on that particular day….can be exhausting!!!). My 18 month old cannot read, but she watches the Sorcerer’s Stone at least 3 times a week and I see her little body float up to the screen as the Hogwarts Express leaves the station. In the “Chamber of Secrets”, she gets so concerned with the Whomping Willow pulverizing the car that you can hear her “Uh Oh!!!” resonating all over the house! (Don’t worry, she only watches the first 2! Everybody else likes Ariel and Nemo, she is in LOVE with Harry Potter…..what can I say?)
    Do be careful with “Hunger Games”!! I sooooo love Katniss that I had my kids buy me a bow and arrow for Christmas; however, I have not begun a revolution to date! I watch my class of middle schoolers read Hunger Games as their first REAL novel and see them slip into the pages and disappear. Some students I have to retrieve LONG after the bell for dismissal has rung. That is saying ALOT considering my students all have learning disabilities and have never completed a book IN THEIR LIVES until HG!!!
    If you do not slip into these magical worlds like the children in Mary Poppins escape into Bert’s sidewalk drawings, you are missing some of life’s most wonderous adventures! (Yeah, and as you stated…. stay away from the “Serial Killer” novels)

    • Sheri! Great comment! Thank you for taking the time. And for your most kind compliment. I’m not sure JK has anything to fear from me, but I really appreciate your confidence! Like, really. 🙂

      And you are right, you miss out if you don’t just embrace the adventure of reading. I’m always so sad when kids tell me they don’t like to read. What a loss. How cool that your students are able to embrace HG! I hope it continues for them with other books. Sounds like your life is interesting! I love that your 18 month old gets so into Harry Potter. That’s great. She must have a lively imagination.

      Thanks Sheri!

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