Okay, so I’ve joined the cult of Harry Potter. When my wife and I went to Reno, NV for our Honeymoon, we picked up this little white piggy bank with “I [heart] Reno” and little red hearts for eyes. Chalk it up to those little things you buy which make sense on vacation. Every day when I come home I empty my pockets of change and stick all the pennies in this bank. Recently I noticed it was pretty much full, so I figured kill two birds with one stone – cash the little suckers in and get that first Harry Potter book I’ve been wanting to read. Specifically I want to read it before I see the movie/play the game/ingest the commercials/listen to the soundtrack. We all know that the books are inevitably better than the movies they become, so I want to read the book first. It’s been on my “to do” list forever now, but with the movie coming out soon it’s crunch time.

So I get a total of $4.45 from the pennies (they always look like they’ll be more), or $5.45 if you count the Sacajawea dollar coin that wouldn’t fit through the bottom slot and was a bitch to get back out of the slot. I took them to this little machine they have at Albertson’s for this sort of thing. You pour your coins in and they get turned into a reciept, minus 8.9¢ on the dollar. Of course the machine is loud as hell and it’s right in front of all the checkers, so everyone shopping at Albertson’s gets to know how much of a cheap bastard you really are, as does the woman who cashes it in for you. I bought the book the next day at Hasting’s because, as it turns out, Half-Price Books doesn’t have it (cardinal rule of HPB – never go in there with a book in mind, you’ll never find it).

When I get to Hasting’s they have the one out front that’s a larger (width-wise) paperback and has the original cover art. I went to the back where they had the recent trade paperback version to the right. It’s funny that they came out with this one last month – it’s smaller, so it fits on trade paperback racks. It doesn’t have cover art that screams “Children’s Book!” (even the “Scholastic” logo is downplayed) and it of course has that nice movie tie in. It’s even funnier that I decided to get this one – I fit the criterion of its target audience. And of course I’ll probably buy and read the other three books. And of course I’ll proably get them on hardcover and stuff.

I put away the first 80 pages last night. I’m not really in a race, except that I want to go ahead and get to Lord of the Rings. It’s really easy reading. Stephen King books require you pay attention, lest you not be able to discern the real action from the action taking place in the characters heads. Robert Jordan books aren’t so heavy on thoughts as they are on words – every page of the Wheel of Time books I’ve looked at have more words per square inch than most scientific journals. And there are of course 9 WoT books, none shorter than 600 pages hardcover (the paperback ones work out to be longer) and only one of which I’ve had the patience to finish (on my second attempt, no less).

Potter is so far a refreshing break – it does just what you want it to do – no weirdo subplots. It’s like “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” (yes, that Shawshank) from Different Seasons – just a compelling story with no baggage. I’ll be finished in no time at this rate. For what it’s worth this is the book my wife put away in one day while myself and my cousins-in-law entertained ourselves at QuakeCon. Had we stayed longer she could have put away Moe’s copy of book 2.