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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Is the new Harry Potter good?
Harry Potter books
Does the newest instalment match the hype?

JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has hit the shops worldwide, ending months of hype, court orders and arrests.

The book sold 6.9 million copies in the US in its first 24 hours, beating the record of the previous Harry Potter book.

Critics have been split on the latest instalment, with some suggesting it is akin to Lord of the Rings and others saying the book is too long and poorly edited.

Did you join the queues to be one of the first to get your hands on a copy? What do you think of the new story? Has the boy wizard lost his magic? Are you bored by "Pottermania"?


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A GUEST
This topic was suggested by Tim, Kettering, UK:
Are you excited about the release of the sixth Harry Potter book? Are you doing anything at midnight on Friday for the release?

As a 28 year old English graduate, I enjoyed the books and am looking forward to the next one. When I was at school I was hooked on Enid Blyton books which also came in for a lot of criticism. I wholeheartedly believe these critics are missing the point. Whether you think the books are well-written or not, whether you personally enjoy them or not, whether there is too much hype and commercialism surrounding them or not, surely anything that encourages children to read MUST be a good thing?
Rachel, Somerset, UK

I'm really looking forward to picking up my copy. I've enjoyed the previous books and films tremendously. I enjoyed Enid Blyton's Secret Seven, Famous Five and Folk of the Faraway Tree books as a child, and the Potter books have the ability to allow my mind to wander back to the days of childhood innocence and wonder, where magic was real! I have also found my 'street cred' has gone up when I'm able to discuss the books in detail with the youngsters I come into contact with!
Sarah Williams, Tenterden, Kent

I thought the first books were well-written and made lively reading. Sadly, books four and five were messy - especially The Order of the Phoenix - and the spark seemed to have gone. I will certainly pick up a copy of the new book and perhaps I'll see a return to earlier form.
Beowulf Mayfield, Watford

I will be buying the book in spite of the hype and not because of it.
Kevski, Horsham UK

My daughter has lost her obsession with Harry Potter now
Andrew Scaife, York
My daughter (9) has lost her obsession with Harry Potter now, but I still have to read some aloud every night for her, so go figure! We're not standing in line for this one: all crazes have their day, and HP is losing its appeal as the series reaches its conclusion. But the tale has sufficient depth to be thought-provoking, and we can often find something to discuss in the story that encourages my daughter to think things through.
Andrew Scaife, York

About 10-12 weeks ago I bought the first Harry Potter because I had seen all the films and I am a fan. Out of interest I wanted to see what made the books so popular. Within five weeks I had read all the books. Now I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I have reserved a copy of the new book. To me the books are great easy reads and have become a simple guilty pleasure.
Stephen, Bristol

I find the books incredibly formulaic. They are a good read but they fail to leave footprints of fire across my soul compared to the likes of Martin Stephen with his Henry Gresham series. They do deserve credit but not as much as they get.
Brendan Stanwell, Ellesmere Port, UK

My eight year old will be desperate to get hold of this book. Like many children worldwide, he wishes it was all real and that he could go to Hogwarts too. My worry is that he will struggle to understand the darkening themes of this book, because he laboured to read and grasp the concepts of the last one. So I haven't ordered a copy and I hope the day passes without him noticing all the hype! As for me, I'm not sure I can wait.
Caroline, Somerset

Bored with Harry Potter ? No not particularly. Bored with the incessant publicity, yes. Bored with the thousands who feel the need to reserve or even wait outside bookstores for the opening of the first day of release when they can quite comfortably wait a few weeks and get the book without even needing to queue? Definitely.
Ieuan Johns, Port Talbot, UK

Interesting how many people assume the Potter's popularity is because of hype...they are obviously unaware at the complete lack of hype over the first two books which won on their own merits. If Harry is popular only because of its hype then it is a hype created from itself, not from the media.
Liz Ford, Cheltenham

I will be 55 next month. My Uncle Buddy is 80, Aunt Doris 79. And we all, including other younger members of my family, look forward to, and enjoy reading Ms Rowling's books. It's really incredible how no matter your age, everyone shares the same delight in reading about Harry.
Thomas Dolan, Jersey City, N.J., USA

Over hyped. Books average, films average, marketing superb, JK Rowling laughing!
Tim, UK

I am a secondary school teacher. If this book gets my students reading, especially boys, then yes it is magical! The English reading lessons in the last week of term will be a breeze! I personally love the book and will be buying my copy tomorrow.
Zoe, London

I love the books and I will be picking up my copy tomorrow morning. Anything that creates such excitement among people (of any age) is a wonderful thing, magical, if you will. JK Rowling has created an amazingly vivid world and her characters are fantastic. I, for one, rejoice in the magic she's created. Heaven knows we need something like this to counter the horror of today's world.
Katie, Dublin, Ireland

I am an adult, but just the same I adore Harry Potter books. My adult friends, too. The stories are full of imagination and drama.
Nela, Split, Croatia

Any books that get our children reading have to be heralded as a good thing. These are the stories that are capturing the imagination. Once hooked they may well then go on to Stephen Lawhead, Terry Pratchett and Tolkein. Be thankful that they're starting somewhere.
Karen, Southampton, England

Harry was not an instant success due to hype
Malk Williams, Leighton Buzzard, UK
Any book, or series of books that have been the recipient of so much hype as the Harry Potter books have, is bound to feel a backlash when the fickle media and public want to tear it down to make way for the next big thing. It's important to remember though - whether you like them or not - that Harry was not an instant success due to hype, but rather the hype gathered around the unexpected success of the initially innocuous children's books. Even if the media circus that surrounds HP leaves town and never returns, the books will remain enjoyable and imaginative, and will be read by a great many fans, children and adult alike. Including me.
Malk Williams, Leighton Buzzard, UK

I can think of better children's books, particularly in the fantasy genre - those written by Tamora Pierce, Philip Pullman, and David Eddings spring immediately to mind. The Harry Potter stories aren't the best written, though they may be the most popular. They are certainly very over-hyped. People rave about the books because they have got children reading, but have they really? Most of the children I know who read Harry Potter only read Harry Potter - they haven't picked up a wider interest in reading as a result.
Ruth, UK

A lot of opposition to Harry Potter books is intellectual snobbery. Self-regarding "literary" types sneer because the books are popular with the masses. I've got a post-graduate literature degree from the University of Cambridge, so I know a thing or two about books, and I absolutely love the Harry Potter series!
Rob S, Cambs, UK

The more recent books have lost their way somewhat
Kristy, UK
I will borrow the book from a library at some point, but to be honest I feel that the more recent books have lost their way somewhat. Rowling started out writing a wonderful story for kids, and is now trying to aim at a wider market. Unfortunately it just doesn't work as well as the first one did. That was pure magic. Wonder how this latest one will compare?
Kristy, UK

Absolute hogwash. Sorcerer Rowling has once again put a spell upon lands near and far, creating hype and hysteria for those who dare open the pages of her bewitched novels. With her magic hands, stories she tells, and although not timeless classics, her magic grips nations, somehow.
Andy M, Amsterdam, NL

Personally, I haven't read any of them - mainly because of all the hype just puts me off. However, any kind of literature that gets kids interested reading is an absolute winner - many congrats to JK. Rowling
Colin Grant, Manchester, UK

This time I haven't reserved the book nor am I rushing out to buy it. In my opinion the fifth book was not of the same calibre as the previous four. JK lost the knack of keeping the readers attention and the book was a third longer than it should have been. I'm still a big Potter fan, but I'm not chomping at the bit to get my hands on number 6.
Jane, Egham, UK

I read the first book and found it uninteresting and dull. I certainly cannot see the appeal to adults - I don't care what any of the Potterites out there say - it's a kid's book! His Dark Materials is far superior to HP - better written with a more interesting and imaginative story. However, anything that gets kids reading these days can only be a good thing - it's just the adults I cannot understand.
Luke, London, UK

To all those people that have criticised and claim it's all because of good marketing, this only started when the first film was made, before that popularity of the books were due to peer to peer recommendations.
Jo, Manchester, UK

I don't see what all the hype is about. When the fourth one came out, yes I was all yippee, and stayed up and queued for it and everything. But she's taken so long to complete it. I've just got bored with it. I probably won't even bother reading this one.
Anthony James, Bedford, UK

How refreshing there is so much "hype" surrounding a book instead of the latest film, new television programme or computer game.
Michelle Scott, Durham, UK

Harry Potter is a well-marketed commodity which helps to sell fizzy drinks and cereals. Where is the research that shows more children are actually improving their literacy or reading more as a result of Harry Potter?
Michael, Preston, Lancs

I like HP, I've read all the books so far, and for sure I'll read also this next one; I think they're no masterpiece, but they're nice and entertaining, and they help me improve my English: that's all. What is frankly disturbing is the huge marketing and merchandising about them, which has made HP too much of a commercial phenomenon. I'm a genuine HP-fan, but I don't like all this fuss, or people going frantic waiting for the release: it's just inappropriate.
Davide N, Milan, Italy

I thought the first two books were good, but the third one was basically a repeat of the first two. The fourth book was absolute trash, so I didn't even bother reading the fifth and certainly won't be wasting my money on this one. There are lots of other books I'd rather spend my money on.
Shanon E Bell, Rantoul, IL, US

The HP books are less predictable than most fantasy, but increasingly in need of a strong editor. As a Christian I have no problem with them as fantasy, but I can see why parents wouldn't want young children reading the darker parts - it's no surprise that many are left on the shelf, as those kids probably lack the reading and imagination skills. I won't be rushing to the shops for my copy - I'm sure many of my friends from my university days will be buying it, so I'll borrow one off them in a few weeks!
Al, Nottingham, UK

Has Potter lost its magic? I think it started to lose it after Prisoner of Azkaban, which was a reasonable length, tightly plotted, and allowed Harry to undergo some nice development as a character. The last two books have been far too focused on the wizarding world, which isn't actually all that interesting. I really don't care what the Ministry of Magic looks like, or that Sybil Trelawney once made an ambiguous and largely irrelevant Prophecy concerning Harry and Voldemort.
Dan, Oxford, UK

I see no reason to resort to children's books for my escapist fantasies
Michael, Lincoln
I have never read one. There are many sci-fi and fantasy authors that do capture my imagination and I see no reason to resort to children's books for my escapist fantasies.
Michael, Lincoln

I'm 27, read everything from Austin and Lytton to L K Hamilton and never watch reality TV but I love Harry Potter. And Winder obviously hasn't read the books, or paid any attention when reading them. In such a depressing world full of child crime, terrorism and taxes who doesn't need a little escapism. No asbos or chavs, keep Harry Potter as he is thank you very much.
A Rye, Exeter, UK

I know I'm too late with this whinge, but please, JK, keep 'em short! The first 3 books were the ideal length, but 4 and 5 were overstuffed with unnecessary padding. They're the only ones that I haven't nicked from the kids to re-read.
Mic, Oldham, UK

Already finished the book - made me feel quite uncomfortable, to be honest. Some parts were genuinely nasty, and I'm sure it will be very difficult indeed to translate to film.
Sneakabout, Portsmouth, England

Here in Uruguay, there is a lot of expectation. Tomorrow morning, bookshops all around Montevideo will start selling the book in English. Although only a small part of our population reads in English, and the price is expensive (almost 1/3 of minimum wage.) Newspapers and bookshops are already anxiously awaiting the new story and rumours about the plot are circulating very fast.
Guzman, Montevideo, Uruguay

I have just finished the book, now at 6.30am. I don't know how I feel, I know I cried throughout the last five chapters, maybe it's the tiredness talking, but it's very much setting the scene for book 7, which is bound to be long! I don't want to give anything away, but I cried like a baby.
Raffaela Hayes, Birmingham

Just finished reading a quick read and will have to go back later, but I loved it. I thought it was quite exciting enough, but definitely more going on in the minds of the characters than action. But that was what was needed after the last book. It is bittersweet, but JKR has given us a lot of happiness to balance out the sadness. Harry is becoming a true hero.
J. Weller, Goochland, Virginia USA

I want book 7 now! Well, after a nap. Pretty please?
Tom Grey, Bratislava, Slovakia
The book is GREAT. Yes, it's more history of Tom Riddle/Voldemort. It's also about Snape. Plus Malfoy is growing up. The fight scene was fine. The many not-so important deaths; the important one; the raging hormones of the teenagers. There could have been more things resolved. I want book 7 now! Well, after a nap. Pretty please?
Tom Grey, Bratislava, Slovakia

Harry Potter gets millions of children actually reading books. Any other criticisms are therefore irrelevant and Rowling deserves every penny she earns for this fact alone.
Steve, Ripon

Forgetting the blatant commercialism surrounding the Harry Potter books, the truth is somewhere in the middle (as it usually is). Yes, the books are an entertaining read, with some clever touches here and there. However, they are certainly not milestones in literature as so many are ready to believe.
Bysshe, Midwest, USA

I have reserved my copy and will pick it up on Saturday. Am I excited about it? No, I was disappointed with book 5 but I still want to know how the story ends. Is it a classic? No, but it is good fun. Most importantly though, it gets people reading who normally never read books. Something that is inconceivable to me but those people apparently exist and I have befriended them.
Synna, Amsterdam

Our local bookshop had a Harry Potter themed dinner and fancy dress before the books go on sale. It sold out weeks ago. I have been asked to buy a copy and take to Greece for a 15 year old girl who will be holidaying there and "can't wait" to get home and buy a copy on 24th July. Doesn't sound like losing magic to me. Anything that can get children reading, especially boys, has go to be worth it.
Sally, Spalding

My copy will arrive by owl tomorrow morning. Only a muggle could think that Harry Potter could lose his magic touch.
David Anderson, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

I still have my Pottermania very much intact, thank you very much!
Marlene, Republic of Panama
I'm not bored at all! If people are this excited over the next book coming out, I'm sure I'm not the only one. In Latin America, he's just as big as he is in Europe or the U.S. or anywhere else in the world. Harry Potter has completely crossed all boundaries to sort of unite the whole world, don't you think? I can't wait to see what happens next and I know Rowling won't disappoint us. I still have my Pottermania very much intact, thank you very much!
Marlene, Republic of Panama

Amusing story this morning. With my 13-year-old daughter up early waiting for the postman to arrive with her copy at around 10:15 the door bell rang. I answered it with daughter bouncing eagerly in the living room. The postman then passed me the book and said in a loud voice, and a smile "That Potter book has a six-week delay due to high demand, sorry you will have to wait". Knowing grins exchanged and the postman when on his way. Distraught daughter trying to think of other ways to get the book, but after 10 minutes we gave in. Happy daughter, thanks postie.
Lee Cooper, Warton nr Preston

I don't understand why only certain people could go to the castle last night. The next book looks great. How did people get invited?
Stephanie Smillie, Scotland

Harry Potter ruined my holiday! My boyfriend and I had tickets for the postponed REM concert in Hyde Park, but couldn't go because his boss wouldn't give him the day off. Why not? Because he works for a major high street book chain and because it coincides with Harry Potter day, every single member of staff had to work. The ironic thing is, he just left me a message to say that the bookshop is virtually dead and he himself has only sold two copies....
Holly Hooper, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

Our son Jonathon at 3 1/2 will not go to bed without Harry Potter read to him. He must be one of the youngest fans in the world from two years old to now. Kids need imagination, without imagination one cannot have faith. Good on J K Rowling in getting kids to read and thinking outside the square. My Jonathon was at a bookshop today to get the next book.
Geoffrey Bruce Gordon, Rotorua, New Zealand

Genius book we've never read on sale!
Anon
Why are the media so utterly hooked on this stuff? Without even a review the BBC, CNN, everyone - headline! - 'Amazing Harry Potter genius book we've never read on sale!' WHY?
Anon

This is awesome. I love every pages of the HBP! Every scene has a bit of darkness in it which makes it the most interesting book to read!
Anthony Benj, Baguio City, Philippines

Some say the books are OK, but "not Dostoyevsky or Nietzsche". When was the last time you saw a 10-year-old pick up to read Dostoyevsky or Nietzsche? As for the talent behind these books, ask yourself, have you ever considered writing a book? Now consider writing a series of seven with a continuing story. That takes talent, right up there with Tolkien. But there are those that will stick their noses in the air and poohoo this. Narrow minds give way to narrow thinking. I am 61 and have awaited the release of book six with as much excitement as any kid out there.
Bill, Atlanta, US

Wow! Who would have thought the opinions about a set of books would be so diverse and passionate? While I must admit, I think we do go a little over board with all the hype, why should there not be this much anticipation of a book?
Aaron LeMay, Waco, TX, USA

I don't really see how the commercialism of Harry Potter has really interfered with the quality of the books. Sure it's vulgar, but what product has maintained its integrity in the marketing boom of the past quarter century?
Jessica, Indiana, USA

Why is it that because JK Rowling and her books have become so successful that this instantly turns people against her? So what if they make films of her books, create mass merchandising etc. I'm sure that if she only sold a few hundred copies of her book all these pompous reviewers would hail her as brilliant and decry the fact that her books don't reach a wider audience.
Sam, Tonbridge, Kent

The stories are fun and we like them. What's more important than that?
Bill, Florida, USA
I listen to the stories on tape with my kids, in the car. Who cares if they are 'serious' or adult literature? That's for literary snobs. The stories are fun and we like them. What's more important than that?
Bill, Florida, USA

Many people have said that these are the best books ever written. The response to that is that they may well be the most entertaining books that THEY have read but they are certainly not the best and there is not one bit of originality in these stories. Having said that, JK Rowling certainly deserves congratulations for her success. The hope is that these books encourage reluctant readers to broaden their reading horizons.
David, Halesowen, England

I am a youth director for the local Episcopal Church, Friday night my group and I will be waiting for the Half-Blood Prince. I have found it to be a great conversation starter and a way to connect with them. Plus I like the books too, often a topic in Sunday school.
Bert McDonald, Mount Vernon, United States

The formula has changed to cater for sequels and it has lost its magic
Jacqueline, Chester-le-Street, County Durham
I'm no right-wing family-values puritan but Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was very brutally graphic for the 6+ audience it was aimed at. The first Harry Potter was a magical book that enchanted readers old and young. The formula has changed to cater for sequels and it has lost its magic.
Jacqueline, Chester-le-Street, County Durham

I have read all the books, and they're a fun light read. But not a patch on the genius of Roald Dahl.
Mark Taylor, Farnham, UK

It always strikes me that the ones who are the most condescending and vocal in their criticism of Harry Potter and fans have not read the books. If they had, they would realize the books are much more nuanced and complicated; it isn't just good v evil. The greatness of the books is that they immerse us in a magical fantasy world with immensely appealing characters and action. I am a 30 year old lawyer who just picked up the books this spring and couldn't put them down. I couldn't care less what some elitist snob thinks.
Noelle, Toronto, Canada

Harry Potter will never lose its charm, humor or magic and neither will the genius that wrote it
Natalie Beynon, Belchertown
I am anxiously awaiting the release of the new book and checking the countdown on mugglenet regularly to see how many hours, minutes, and seconds. I will definitely openly rejoice when I finally have the book in my hand and I can't wait until the day I can say I know the book 'back to front'. Harry Potter will never lose its charm, humor or magic and neither will the genius that wrote it. Thank you Jo! You are one of my heroes!
Natalie Beynon, Belchertown

I, for one, will be one of the many Harry Potter fans standing outside the B&N at midnight on the 15th. J.K. Rowling has created a series that can be enjoyable for all ages and, like all well-written series, the ensuing popularity is just guaranteed to follow. I doubt that the books' craze will die out any time soon, and I'm not complaining.
Mary Soplop, Easton, United States

Tomorrow evening I will be queuing up with some friends waiting to pick up the Harry Potter books that I ordered weeks ago. I will then be delivering them to a number of 30 somethings who are eagerly awaiting their copies. Will people lighten up? No-one is pretending that these books are anything more than light reading but they give pleasure to millions, young and old, and J K Rowling should be congratulated on getting so many people interested in reading again.
Debbie Engel, Luton

I am an English major who has now taken Harry Potter and the Phiosopher's Stone in two University level classes. The first was a Religious Studies class about literature, and the second was a Children's Lit class. In both these classes we discussed the phenomenon that Harry is. I personally love the books, and I feel that any books that get children to read and spark their imagination are amazing. And if children are anything like I was, if you tell them a book is bad, it's only going to make them want to read it more.
Erin Pratt, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

As a children's librarian I see the positive impact the books have
A librarian, South England
I hate the commercialism around Harry Potter, but as a children's librarian I see the positive impact the books have. I see children come in to the library to read them because of peer pressure, but then they find other books and read them too. I have over 100 reservations from children desperate to read it, that can't be bad. And what else would make kids stop watching TV and read?
A librarian, South England

It's got well out of hand - as most things in this country do. It's an enjoyable book - no more than that.
Nick, UK

Harry Potter is the greatest phenomenon of my childhood, I grew up reading Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl but neither have captured the imaginations of millions of children and adults in such a way. I love the Harry Potter books, I have read them all so many times, my friends are sick of me talking about it but I love them!
Pip, London, UK

Whar is the big deal about kids/adults reading Harry Potter? I think it's wonderful that Harry Potter is getting children (and some adults) back into reading and using their imagination as opposed to relying on computer, TV, videos etc. I can't wait for July 16th.
Kaz, NY, USA

Want fantasy and magic? J.R.R Tolkien's works are vastly superior to the Harry Potter series in every single way.
Alex Mangan, Swindon, UK

The question is what are we going to do after book 7?
Lev Nakhshunov, USA
For true fans of Harry Potter, I think it is impossible to get bored with it. J.K. Rowling does such a superb job of portraying Harry and other characters as real human beings and not just some sort of super hero wizards. It is this human aspect that makes you connect with the characters. The question is what are we going to do after book 7? Is life going to go on?
Lev Nakhshunov, USA

The books in my opinion are low quality. But if people get enjoyment out of them, fair enough.
Jonny Davis, Stockport, England

Of course. I'm dying to get my hands on The Half-Blood Prince. This type of book isn't usually my forte, I'm into Shakespeare and Jane Austen, but I'm going stark raving mad waiting for the 29hrs and 57 mins to be up so I can get the book.
Hazel Reilly, Dublin, Ireland

I'll be queuing! Oh - I rarely watch any TV at all, I'm 30, my favourite authors are Tolkien/Asimov/Pratchett/ etc and I have a multitude of things to do with my time.
Caroline Reeves, Wiltshire UK

The last two were somehow deplete of the magic of the first three
Atta, India
I found the first three books very interesting. The last two were somehow deplete of the magic of the first three. They seemed too violent and didn't focus much on the students' life at Hogwarts, which is good fun to read. Hope the next one is better.
Atta, India

How can one be bored of a Potter story? The whole story makes interesting reading, making you feel angry when Potter and Ron are angry and happy when they are happy. Even the bad Malfoy's character is enjoyable. Hope the same gripping tale will continue in the next book also.
Sankari, India

Personally, I think the Potter series is wonderful! I am 40-years-old, and adore the fact that they enable me to "relive" some of the moments of my own coming of age, you know, the typical angst that every teen feels, no matter where you come from. Harry Potter is not evil, in fact, it deliberately instils into the children the desire to do the right thing, even if the doing is difficult. Anything that encourages that in today's society is a plus in my eyes.
Karen Wingo, Gadsden, AL, USA

Let's not lose sight of the fact that our children (and, indeed, many of us) are getting excited about the arrival of a new book - not a video game, TV special or film.
Barry, Ashford, UK

Books like this open people up to the possibility of reading things they would never have thought about before
Matt, Long Beach, CA, US
As to the adult readers of the HP series I think the key here is that books like this open people up to the possibility of reading things they would never have thought about before. Reading, even a children's book like this, exercises (one is tempted to say exorcise due to the subject matter) one's imagination. I hope that if people find these books enjoyable that they look further into fiction. Some classic fiction Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson, The Hobbit, Don Quixote, anything by Dickens, The Jungle Book, The Three Musketeers.
Matt, Long Beach, CA, US

Those who worry that Potter fans are semi-literate soap-addicts can rest assured that I don't even own a TV. One argument that I do find intriguing is that the books were written solely for commercial reasons. Given that children's literature has never been very lucrative, and that Rowling spent years working on the story prior to even securing an agent, is this really likely?
Sheena Power, Dublin, Ireland

I do not mind the kids going crazy over Harry. They are enjoying a fun read. I get a little tired of adults going on about what great literature it is. Try Dostoyevsky or Nietzsche on for size.
Robert Arisz, Amsterdam

As an adult fan and a Christian, I just can't take the criticism of Harry Potter seriously - it is fiction after all. Personally, I'm grateful that Rowling has created a world that I can escape into once in awhile. Isn't that what good fiction is all about? I guess some people feel any book that allows one to lose themselves in their imagination as they read must be dangerous, but I believe it is the mark of a truly good story. I wonder if these same people have a problem with Tolkien and his fantastical tales. If it's a concern with magic and fantasy I guess they must also disapprove of him, CS.Lewis, and even Walt Disney. Seems a bit silly to me.
Nicole, Durham, North Carolina, USA

If you don't like it, don't read it
Joe Carpenter, London, UK
I think it's disgusting that some people are calling for JK Rowling to stop writing the series. If you don't like it, don't read it, and let those of us who do like it find and enjoy happiness in reading it.
Joe Carpenter, London, UK

Not at all. I have my copy reserved and am very excited about getting it! The story for those who really love it can be read and re-read and appreciated in many ways, both by children and adults. The films leave a lot to be desired in storytelling, but the actors, sets and ambiance are perfect. It's good to have a craze that makes reading attractive to children in a society where an unacceptably high number are leaving school with appalling literacy skills. Long live the need to read!
Heather, Bristol

I'm I missing something as I really do not understand the hype surrounding Harry Potter? All the books are good stories and well written, but they lack that magical quality which would make them real classics. Today it seems for a book to be called a classic it simply has to be sold by the shed load. Good marketing and does not make a good book.
Peter, W-S-M

I personally cannot wait for the sixth book to come out on Saturday. I have my copy on reserve at the bookstore, and plan to pick it up on Friday at midnight (oh yes I will be there early to find parking and get in line). I find the books enjoyable, a light read and very entertaining. I am a PhD student in Chemistry. I don't watch reality TV and absolutely dislike soap operas, but I love Harry Potter. I simply cannot wait for Saturday!
Riyam, US

I can remember some years ago scoffing at my peers who are in their late twenties and early thirties, that these people were reading Harry Potter books, which I saw as ''children's'' books. I was challenged to read the first book and became hooked, I read the next three and some months later stood in the queue outside Waterstone's Manchester. Over the last few weeks I have become obsessed with HP websites. And tomorrow, I will again, be in the queue.
Dean M, Manchester

It all seems pretty straightforward. The whole Potter thing is a craze because adults and kids alike love the stories. They've caught the imagination and in a world of instant gratification, TV and video lifestyles and media-inspired fads aimed at a generation that wants for nothing, some good old-fashioned reading material can't be a bad thing, can it?
Barrie Thomson, Stratford, London

I don't think HP ever had any real "magic". I read half of the first book and took it straight to the nearest charity shop. A total waste of money for such unimaginative, plagiarised drivel. Sadly it's all too obvious today that you can sell any old rubbish with enough hype, just look at the Crazy Frog..
Chris, Cardiff, UK

Your previous citizen, Willie Shakespeare said it best (probably paraphrased) "me thinks thou does protest too much"! Go get 'em Harry and Rowling!
Kevin, Phoenix, AZ, USA

The last book should have been half the length that it ended up as
Kate, London, UK
I'll be reading it, but I hope Ms Rowling has got herself a good editor this time - the last book should have been half the length that it ended up as. And less sulking from Harry please. It doesn't make me want to read about him.
Kate, London, UK

I'm quite looking forward to this, since I have rather enjoyed the previous books (they are getting too long though). But the hype is ridiculous and no book could ever live up to it, never mind an adequately written, if imaginative, children's tale. The publishers and book sellers need to get this in perspective.
Katherine, London, UK

I won't be waiting in line at midnight, but I will get a copy the next day, which I will enjoy reading before I give it to my 13-year-old son.
Jane Wilson, San Antonio, TX, US

Why do so many adults go ga-ga over a children's book? It's Tom Brown's schooldays with Magic. Yes they're fun and yes they may encourage kids to read but there is better - The "His Dark Materials" trilogy for example.
Martin, Basingstoke, Hants

I really enjoy the Harry Potter series and will be hijacking this book off my partner's kids as soon as they get it (I read faster than they do). My enjoyment comes from the escapism, the fantasy and the lack of 'worldliness'. Your reviewer Robert Winder says he would have an "urban Harry" and he'd be "hanging around bus stops". I only have to open my front door to get a load of that. I'll stick to Harry as he is, thank you very much, and seven books will not ever be enough to satisfy my appetite.
Kiltie Chisholm, Staffs, UK

Marketing pressure and commercialised sales gimmicks, such as midnight opening of stores to sell the new Harry Potter book, to promote any product aimed at kids should be abolished. Gimmicks like this sales stunt with the hype which goes with it are overplayed and unnecessary. If the book is as good as the publishers would have kids believe it will sell on its own merits.
Eddie Espie, Cookstown

I am fed up with this predictable Harry Potter backlash. If JK Rowling can get kids out of the shopping centres and into the libraries then surely that's a good thing?
Matt Wash, Ipswich

I'm torn on this one. I do find the HP books rather formulaic and predictable (good versus evil, the good winning usually due to good luck and chance, with a helping of moral lessons along the way, etc.) but then again, isn't that one of the reasons why people like them? We know that Harry will fight Voldem - sorry, He Who Shall Not Be Named, but nevertheless I am gripped to find out exactly where, how and when it happens. In my eyes, it is JKR's style of writing that tips the scales in her favour. My other half is equally hooked - she has offered me a lift home from a party that ends at midnight on Friday, not as I thought, out of her generosity and kind heart, but so that she can drive into Epsom on the way home to pick up her reserved copy!
A, Epsom, Surrey

Harry Potter made reading more fashionable amongst children
Peregrine, London
I am sure that Harry Potter made reading more fashionable amongst children. It captures the imagination and there is real excitement about what will happen next. Whilst I as an adult will not queue on Oxford Street for the next book, I will buy it, read it and hopefully enjoy it as much as I have Rowling's previous ones.
Peregrine, London

JK Rowling is a talented storyteller who has created a world with characters so intriguing that I, for one, am looking forward to the next instalment in the tale. I remember the reason that I read the first Harry Potter novel was to see what all the fuss was about in the classrooms in which I taught. Now I know!
Kristen, London, UK

Any light relief in today's climate is welcome - yes I will be reading an early copy.
Tom, Ipswich, UK

I'm looking forward to it so much I can't stop grinning when I think about how close I am to getting a copy! I live in Scotland but I'll be in London for the weekend so I had to pre-order it to a London store so I can pick it up at midnight tomorrow. Worst thing is after I finish this book I know I'll have a couple of years to wait to find out what happens next.
Jemma, Glasgow, Scotland

In my opinion the Harry Potter books never had any 'magic' in the first place. I found them boring, unimaginative and repetitive.
J, Oxford, UK

I've never seen the appeal of Harry Potter. I've tried to read the books but always in the back of my mind is the feeling that Terry Pratchett and JRR Tolkein have done this before.
Bob Knox, Bedford, England

For me, books are an exciting escape from reality. The Harry Potter books are written so that you become completely immersed in the world of Hogwarts and all the characters. The film adaptations may have taken some of the sparkle out of the phenomenon, but come Friday, I look forward to again losing myself in the world of Harry!
Caggie, Scotland

I am so far beyond excited. I am among many that will be enjoying the festivities tomorrow night and will spend Saturday curled up with the latest instalment of one of the best book series ever written. Call the books, or even the fans silly, but anything that has the ability to provide an escape from today's world is welcomed.
Liz Flamenbaum, New York, USA

The hype surrounding them is excessive
Rachel, West Yorkshire
Whereas I am in favour of anything that encourages more young people (particularly boys) to read, as I understand the Harry Potter books have done, I do think that the hype surrounding them is excessive. As with any commercial venture, I think mainstream media coverage and the publicity which goes with it should be kept to a minimum.
Rachel, West Yorkshire

As one of Harry Potters number one fan, I will be at the stores Friday night to get my copy and I will not sleep until I have read the whole book through. Without doubt the Harry Potter magic is better than ever and I hope it lasts for many more years to come.
Lee Wilson, London, UK

You couldn't write a story line regarding the shambles of the publishing and release of this book, who needs to pay expensive advertising fees! I for one will not be buying I think the books are rubbish.
E Sloan, England

I think the appeal is still there for children. JK Rowling has done outstanding work in encouraging literacy in children, just by writing a story for her daughter. As for my family - the book has been on order for months and we're having a family reading session on Saturday where each person takes a turn in reading a chapter.
Pauline Yates, Suffolk

Cue all the cynics who think that it's over-hyped nonsensical babbling etc, etc. I ordered my copy the day it was announced and hopefully it will be delivered on Saturday morning. I can't wait!
Sarah, Epsom, Surrey

What's wrong with a series of books and films that are for pure enjoyment? There is no pretence of reality with Harry Potter. I don't think Ms Rowling has ever thought that it would grow in to such a beast.
Mark W Clark, Ukiah, Mendocino, California, USA

Harry Potter is a hapless child of suburbia
Paul Growcoot, Milan, Italy
I have read all the Harry Potter books to date and as a child I devoured books by the likes of Roald Dahl and CS Lewis. I think that Harry Potter is a hapless child of suburbia and represents that desire in so many of us to find the magical lying under the surface of the mundane. That great longing for adventure that was thwarted by the monotony and 'boring-old-sameness' that typifies life on a suburban estate. As a child I used to love fantasizing that there was more to life than morning assemblies, homework and Blue Peter, and who wouldn't love to be whisked away in a flying car to a secret school for magicians, it's classic escapist stuff and simply irresistible!
Paul Growcoot, Milan, Italy

I read the first three Harry Potters and loved them. However, call me a snob, I am now utterly disgusted by the 'crass commercialism' and the hype of it all, and have stopped reading the series. For me, the hype has clearly been counter-productive.
Francoise Humbert, Brussels Belgium

By criticising Harry Potter for not being urban or representative of today's culture is entirely missing the point. Children and adults who like these stories are not ignorant, stupid or immature, they are simply enjoying being immersed in a fantasy world. With so much to dislike about our current culture of chavs, asbos, violent crime, terrorism etc, I think it is perfectly reasonable to want to escape to a more transparent and logical world. It is also reasonable to hope the children who read the books could one day aspire to bring back the more idyllic 1950's culture and stop hanging around on corners smoking and swearing at passers by.
Lee, Birmingham, UK

Don't you think you're taking the book a bit too seriously? I am a Harry Potter reader and fan, at the age of 24 I think that the books are a good light read like all books are a form of escapism: each to their own! It is a book intended for children, but then who says that an adult can't revert into their childhood! I wish I had encountered a book as well written, adventurous and creative as Harry Potter in my childhood days; all I had was Lord of the Rings and Roald Dahl (who to this day still remains my favourite children's book writer). I see nothing wrong in looking for a light form of entertainment such as an easy book that you can read whilst on the bus on your way home after a long day at work.

I also think you're wrong in backing AS Byatt in his statement that readers of the books are "people whose interests are confined to the worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip" Myself and all the people I know have read the book do not watch reality TV, are not big sops fans and let me point out that all of these are people with an awful lot of brains, people with solid science degrees and PhDs who actually do meaningful jobs! We are all waiting for the next book, some more than others, but wasn't everybody looking forward to the Star Wars sequel? Lord of the rings? Every book ends with suspense and makes you look forward to the next book, that's all! In conclusion, you might not be a Harry Potter fan, you might hate the merchandise around it (who doesn't!?) but don't judge a book by its cover!
Valeria, Edinburgh

The books undoubtedly have appeal, even I enjoy them! Of course if they're popular you have to expect merchandise to appear, but are you forced to buy it anymore than to drink Coca Cola?
Chris Vyse, Bristol, UK

Surely the Harry Potter novels are today's Greyfriars school stories? They too reflected a world long gone, even at the time they were published, and were meant to provide an escape from the harsh realities of the '30s and '40s for their (mostly working class) readers, with the added hope from the author that some of his audience might just adopt the fair play and decent behaviour of Harry Wharton & Co as a blueprint for their own values - don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, don't bully, play fair, always help the underdog etc. Not bad values, and most are painfully missing from today's kids. If Harry Potter can inspire their re-adoption to any degree, that can only be a good thing.
Jane, Windsor, UK

JK Rowling's books are hyped, but they fully deserve it
Beth Rowell, Oxford, UK
I'm an Oxford student, going into my second year studying Ancient and Modern History, I never watch soaps or reality TV, don't care about celebrity gossip, and am a huge Potter fan. Although most of this article is clearly drivel written by someone who has not read the books (and thus has no right to judge - imagine if a film critic slated a new release without having watched it!), I must point out that the sentence "It is a world where good and evil are clearly defined and not one with the many grey areas and dangers familiar to children and young adults today." is completely inaccurate. A quick glance at the books would reveal that this is in fact not the case at all - the words of advice to Harry from the character Sirius Black might be poignant - "The world isn't divided into good people and Death Eaters" and this holds true (see, for example, Barty Crouch Sr, Professor Snape or Dolores Umbridge). JK Rowling's books are hyped, but they fully deserve it, and I will be waiting in line at midnight to get the sixth one.
Beth Rowell, Oxford, UK

While impressed that the author of this has actually taken the time to see and read the Harry Potter books (many antagonists do not, especially those who oppose the books for religious reasons), I have to say I do not agree at all. For every child that gets the book and leaves it on the shelf, there are probably ten people that read it five times. I know for a fact, I will do.
Emma, Essex, UK

I think Robert Winder has underestimated the Harry Potter books. JK Rowling's treatment of good and evil is not always black and white, as some characters who seem bad initially actually turn out to be good and vice versa. And looking at what she's said in interviews about future books, I think that is set to continue.
Debbie, Witham, Essex, UK

Why on Earth would your reporter want to find a chav Harry? Surely part of what draws adults to read these books is the fact that the kids in them, even the bad ones, aren't using their magical abilities to set light to cars on housing estates, graffiti bus shelters, get white cider from the off-licence, and burgle our houses. We've got enough of that in the non-fiction world.
Dan, Middlesbrough, UK

I enjoy the Harry Potter books and believe that they have helped my children learn the joys of reading. The previous book did go on and on and Harry's inner life is not all that interesting. Hope that this one will concentrate on the fun and adventure.
John, Lowell, MA, USA

Sheesh. Just because the book doesn't show what you want it to show, you've got to insult it, and the fans? Harry doesn't act like a normal British kid because guess what? He's not. Nor is the world the normal world. (By the way, the series takes place in the mid-90s. Not 2005). It's not supposed to be realistic, it's supposed to be a fantasy world. Not to mention that anyone who condemns an adult for being an avid fan of a child's story is being arrogant and condescending. I read books because of the story, not the intended audience. Some people seem to think that because a story is intended for a child, that any adult who reads it should automatically be a social outcast. Seems a bit narrow minded to me. Everyone is quite welcome to dislike Harry Potter (or anything else for that matter) but there's really no reason to be so incredibly rude about it. I am a 28-year old man, and this series is my favourite. I don't appreciate the insulting tone throughout your article. And why in the blazes would you want to make Harry seem like some normal punk? A lot of people read these books to get away from the normalcy of Britain. Or the rest of the world. As you said: "Harry Potter is fantasy for kids and is not supposed to reflect the realities of modern-day life in Britain" Why should it be different and why does it bug you so much that it is not normal? That's kind of the point.
Al McConnell, Nebraska, USA

It's a much needed break from the bore that we call 'real life'
Caner U, Berlin, Germany
Criticism towards books is all fine with me, as it is everyone's right not to like a book, but this similarity of Harry potter to a British conservative is an example of a very obtuse understanding of what this simple-story fantasy is made of. There are elements from many fantasy books, not only LOTR, and folk tales, mixed in Rowling's contemporary language and style. I know very many people that are involved in the gruesome aspects of everyday reality who turn to Harry Potter for its simplicity. It's a much needed break from the bore that we call 'real life'.
Caner U, Berlin, Germany

Harry Potter is simply a delightful story, as endearing as The Magic Faraway Tree and Peter Pan. Harry is like most 14-year-olds, an emotional wreck with questions, he's not a set of charming English children who step through a wardrobe and encounter speaking lions and fawns. I think J.K Rowling has found a gap between The Hobbit and Disney, one that older readers can appreciate and younger readers can get lost in. The reason why he is so popular in my opinion is that besides the London descriptions most of the story is placed in Hogwarts and in this place of sorting hates and whomping willows readers from all over the world of all ages are in the same magical unfamiliar territory. This is a place that makes time fly on a long train journey towards everyday reality, so I will definitely be queuing for my copy.
Helen , London/SA

The Potter books are an effrontery to Britain especially here in America, where most only ride the commercialist wave without fully knowing what they are pretending to read.
Hector Roberts, United States

I am no avid Harry Potter reader although I have read the last four books. I have in fact nearly finished the goblet of fire but got bored near the end. I think it became a little like the Da Vinci code. Just dead tedious. JK Rowling having started out with quite a few good ideas has now been pulled into the world of commercialism as stated above. In doing so she is just fishing for new ideas which are just not flowing. The Goblet of Fire was unnecessarily long. She could have made it half the size and it would have been more interesting if only because the ending would have come sooner! I cannot see myself revisiting my inner child by reading Half Blood Prince any time soon.
Anna Djurberg, Stockholm, Sweden

It's a book for goodness' sake. A nice story. Take it or leave it.
Paul, Sutton, Surrey

I read a wide variety of material for a variety of reasons and Harry Potter forms a part of that mixed diet. In this world of increasing control, surveillance and pressure from both society and government it is nice sometimes to read something which is pure escapist fantasy. I cringe when children too are criticised for reading escapist books. By giving them only 'realistic' fiction we are limiting and stunting their imaginations. What is wrong with having them aspire to a society where people do /not/ hang around on street corners causing trouble, or where fighting evil is portrayed in a positive light? Harry Potter is not great literature but it is fun to read and has encouraged huge numbers of both children and adults to enjoy reading, and some of those will go on to read other things that they might not otherwise have done as a result. That can surely only be a good thing. May I also recommend the books by Diana Wynn Jones.
Pat S

The John Major point is absolutely right! I believe that the Harry Potter craze is absolutely a step back to Victorian repression.
Relph Golland, Rome, Italy

Re: Robert Winder's feature - it's so sad that some people have completely lost their childhood dreams.
Arthur Lowe, Melbourne, Australia

People should go beyond the hype and just concentrate on the book
Leena, London
I do understand the frustration some people feel regarding the hype that surrounds these books, but I think people should go beyond the hype and just concentrate on the book. It's like any other novel and should be judged as such. I think it's well written, has a strong story line and has drama and suspense. I come from India and I would say it has all the ingredients of a perfect Bollywood movie. Some people complain that it's not a book of current times since its all about clear good and bad. I think they are wrong. You can see shades of grey too. Anyway, why do we need stories about modern crime and asbos? We get that in the newspaper every day. This is about magic! I love to immerse myself in this magical cauldron and think that I have the power to do something to change something to be something. And that's why I love this book.
Leena, London

Robert Winder is a writer and ought to know better. Since when can you criticise something knowing nothing about it? I am a huge Harry Potter fan (of the books, the movies are for the kids) and have also read AS Byatt, Ayn Rand and plenty else besides the celebrity pages of 'Hello' magazine. And as for the idea that kids want the Potter books simply to display them on their book shelves - if Taiwanese kids rush to read the books in English (I've seen it with my own eyes) then I think Winder should do a bit more research before making such sweeping statements as 'Parents often complain...'. Sure, I think the Harry hype is rather hectic, but why be a spoilsport and jump on the bandwagon that always trudles after trends saying 'everyone else is reading it so I'm not going to'. People do this to go against the flow but don't they realise they're just joining the stampede of others being intentionally perverse? Sure, hate the Potter hype, but you can't hate Harry if you know nothing about him. And to Mr Winder, good for you that you're going to read the new book, but just for your info, the story starts at book one. What would you think of the series '24' if you started on episode five?
Laura Hepburn, South African living in Hong Kong

Spot on!
Sam, Somerset

Have never read any of them, never will or have any desire to. I love reading, but find HP books full of nonsense drivel. I'm bored of the hype and constant barrage of news updates every time a new book comes out. A lot of my friends bought their children the books, they've been left undread and initial interest has faded. The made up words just left them confused. Complete money spinner.
Dawn, Lincolnshire UK

The HP saga has become a brand to sell other products. I think it was even conceived this way. But I don't mind, it has brought me enjoyment, humour, moments of insight and simply silliness. Its worth it, thank you JK.
Kyran, The Netherlands

I was 'distinctly unimpressed' too. But it was the same with 'Lord of the Rings'. In my opinion people might as well bang their heads into the wall.
Thomas Pauli, Berlin, Germany

Oh lighten up, it's just a kid's book.
Pete Nattress, Dorset, England

Why set out to criticise a book that brings pleasure to literally hundreds of millions of people worldwide? Basing your scathing remarks upon one of the Harry Potter films - which, incidentally, are very inferior when compared with the novels themselves - and part of one of the books, you profess wisdom and pass judgement upon a subject you know little about. Harry Potter is enjoyed by both adults and children because the stories are thrilling, packed with danger, and have a strong element of universal human interest - the hero winning out over all odds. This is the reason that becoming an adult fails to affect the level of excitement people experience when reading these books.
George, London

It's literary sludge, poorly written trash
Simon Gray, Newhaven, UK
Utterly bored with it. And despite the hype, it's literary sludge, poorly written trash. If adults want fantasy - go and buy a Pratchett novel.
Simon Gray, Newhaven, UK

Its just another fad, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja (or should I say hero?) Turtles, Transformers and Thunderbirds and all things pass. I've never understood what all the fuss is about really, but then again I'm 29-years-old and not 9. However, I would question whether or not adults, unless reading to their children, have a screw loose to be into reading the books, it just doesn't seem right.
Anthony Dry, Liverpool, UK

I've never read one and will never do. It's filled with all manners of unrealistic fantasies. It could retard one's intelligence. But nevertheless I must praise the Potter business managers. Hate it or love it, it's a huge financial success but definitely not at the cost of my time and money.
Ogbobine Jimi, Lagos, Nigeria

It's fantasy of the highest order. Do you just want a book about a boring little chav who attends the local comp and doesn't bother to do any homework?
Jackie Whiting, Horsham, UK

I entirely agree with Robert Winder. What on earth is the fuss about this over-hyped series of drivel! Ideal reading material for anoraks I'm afraid.
Paul, Thirsk, UK

Thank you! I too am tired of the hype surrounding not much substance - seems to be a sign of the times. My main worry is that the HP franchise seems to be an end in itself rather than being the motor to encourage children to read more.
Paul Vincent Smith, Manchester, UK

I love Harry Potter and I cannot wait to read the new book. But your comments are interesting to me in light of a discovery I made when I came to study in England a year ago. Call me naive or blind, but as a Dutch reader (reading the books in English, nonetheless), I had never realized just how 'British' Harry Potter and his world are. To many international readers, I suppose, the magical aspect of it all is only slightly more exotic than boarding schools with uniforms and 'house'/school scarves and badges, prefects, and the like. Here in Cambridge I see such things every day, and I quickly became aware that a British reader comes into these books with a very different perspective than I did. I am very aware that Cambridge is not the most modern place in England; when I recently entered a summer storage room here, there were many old-fashioned trunks with people's personal possessions, much to my astonishment and, I admit, delight. All in all, I think that the majority of international readers similarly do not take the Harry Potter books as a direct representation of Britain - modern or 1950s.
Anne, Cambridge, UK (previously the Netherlands)

The reason the books are so popular is because they're page-turners, and a 'good vs evil' story wins every time. I certainly don't want to read about kids hanging "round bus-stops late at night wearing baseball caps and drinking cider. I can just turn on the news or drive through the town to see that.
Garry Whittall, Newark, England

I detest the Harry Potter craze and everything that it stands for. Then again, my dyslexic friend, who can only manage about 4 or 5 pages of a textbook in one go (and normally doesn't read for pleasure at all), devours each Harry Potter book as soon as he gets his hands on it, forgoing even sleep until he's finished it. There must be something about it.
Dave, Warrington, UK

Rowling has managed to create a world that is almost as captivating to adults as to children
Matt, UK
The success of fantasy novels like Harry Potter is partly due to the nature of the modern world. As the pace of innovation grows, adults increasingly find it tough to keep up with changes. By presenting a strangely familiar and timeless vision of the world, Harry Potter is reassuring. Also, the stories are entertaining and well written. By combining solid writing skills with a setting that has mass appeal, Rowling has managed to create a world that is almost as captivating to adults as to children.
Matt, UK

I'm happy to wait and see if they stand the test of time, if they are still popular in 10 years I might try reading another one. I read parts of the first one to my nieces as part of baby-sitting duties when it was just out, I remember it as being fairly engrossing, but that could have been because it was only bits and the kids were engrossed.
Bruce Mills, Palampur, India

Thank you! It is a dangerous thing to say you can't stand the Harry Potter books. Some of the looks I get when this topic comes up would curdle milk. They are awful and appear to be written for money and not for the reader. The characters are two dimensional and the "plot" could be used for tracing paper. The argument that they are written for kids just doesn't hold either. Kids' books should be there to help them extend their understanding of the world, of imagination and of vocabulary and not pander to 20 second attention spans. You want fantasy? Try CS Lewis or Terry Pratchett and then come back and tell me Mr Potter is worth the fuss. Thank you for the space to rant.
Aileen Wallace, Scotland

I won't be buying the new book, but then that's because I don't really consider Rowling a good author. I do, however, disagree with a lot of the comments in Robert Winder's article. It's important for children to have some kind of fantasy stories that are completely removed from reality. That's what made true children's classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory so popular. But I do agree that Rowling really is scraping the barrel with Harry Potter. At least Dahl wrote many different stories, rather than just one story spread across an endless collection of books. The Potter fad will die soon and Rowling will regret not coming up with something fresh while she had the chance.
Ash, Southampton, England

In response to Robert Winder's slightly embarrassing article, there's not much point reading Book 6 unless you're going to read the previous five as well. No-one pretends Harry Potter is particularly well-written, but they are romping good stories about good versus evil and also about how to survive in a cruel world. For young kids today I can't think of a more appropriate topic - if JK Rowling can subtly help children to deal with an imperfect world where fear and injustice exist then what's wrong with that? Sounds to me more like you object to our Western capitalist society exploiting one woman's ideas to make money. I agree with you there. But that's a wholly separate issue to whether or not the books are any good. Read them, then judge them. I read Classics at Cambridge and admit I am a bit of a literature snob, but I still think they are great fun and excellent for passing the bus journey into work. And if you'd read them you'd know that the urban characters do exist later on. But not when Harry was only 11 or whatever in the first book - bit young for the cider maybe.
Katie T, London

I am 29 and not ashamed to admit I love Harry Potter books and can't wait to get my hands on the new one! I don't know what it is about these books that gets me so excited but many of my friends are fans as well. I have a full time job, house to run, animals to look after and don't spend my free time watching soaps and reality TV (can't stand either of them) so I resent AS Byatt's comments that the books are "for people whose interests are confined to the worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip". JK Rowling has done what many authors can only dream of and to me any negative comments aimed at Potter fans are probably only said out of jealously - the sales of the books speak for themselves.
Sarah, Cornwall

I am hooked on the monster that is Harry Potter
Carolyn, Birchington, UK
Yes I am bored with the hype that goes with marketing the latest Harry Potter but I will be out on Saturday morning buying my copy! Why? Because I am hooked on the monster that is Harry Potter and I admit, if I didn't revert to my "inner child" (middle-aged that I am) at least once a week, whether it be reading a child's book, my karate class, singing out loud to Radio 2 or disco dancing round my kitchen, my smile would not be as bright each day!
Carolyn, Birchington, UK

You can't just read HP without reading the other five first! For one thing, you'll have absolutely no idea what's going on - it's an ongoing plot, you know!
Chris B, Doncaster, England

No doubt that Harry does appeal to our inner-child, but thank goodness so many people still have one. I disagree with the BBC's Robert Winder when he says that good and evil are clearly defined in the books. Look at Snape - one minute you believe he is onside, the next he is being mean to Harry. We also learnt in the previous book that Harry's own father wasn't a saint. I think readers will have already guessed my answer to the BBC's question. Am I bored with Harry Potter hype or can't wait to get the new book, participants in Friday night's festivities will once again prove how nice it is to have a shared interest across the nation.
Maria Waite, London

I'm an English MA student. I have heard of, and read, a lot of Byatt, among other people. My tastes are hardly confined to "soap, reality TV, and celebrity gossip". In fact they don't even lean that way. And yes, I read, and like, Harry Potter. To see generalisations like this being made really irritates me. There are plenty of educated, mature people who enjoy Harry Potter because it's a good story. I don't think any one of us would kid ourselves about Potter's "literary merit". But that's not why we read it.
Meera, Coventry, UK

Harry Potter is not something to take seriously or that is supposed to represent the real world. No matter what your age Harry Potter is a wonderful means of escape from the realty of the harsh world we live in. You have a stressful day at work - you come home, run a bath and get lost in a world of magic.
Samantha James, Stevenage, England

The reason that adults love the Harry Potter books is because they are pure escapism. They represent the sort of childhood that everyone wishes they had. To write about 'today's' Harry Potter with his teenage drinking and his asbos would just reinforce the drudgery and depressing nature of today's society (and you wouldn't have to read a book - you could just look around). Instead a book about a fantastical place, with exotic characters can help you to forget that you live in a fundamentally boring world.
Mark,

I disagree strongly with your comment that it is "a world where good and evil are clearly defined". Clearly you haven't read enough of the books to see all the instances that prove this.
Anon

Speaking as a complete and utter Hermione, it's nice to see a girl portrayed who is smart and brave and interesting. I just couldn't get into most pre-teen, teenage girl books when I was young. The girls were lame, lame, lame. And boring. I liked sword fights. And magic. Still do. But Winder wants an "urban HP". What about Hermione? I guess his Hermione would wear boringly skimpy clothes and end up pregnant at the end of Book VI? Then the mystery could be, "Who's the father?" Gosh, that would be interesting. Getting us in touch with things we see regularly. Like we don't get enough of that from the news. And on soaps.
Jamie Dancy, Manchester, United Kingdom

It's great to read the comments above, the books are so poor, to a generation who read the Sword in the Stone, or even the Narnia stories, they compare so badly that the enthusiasm they generate has to be a product of "dumbing down".
Roy Kolnik, Perth, Australia

I read Harry Potter because it is relaxing, a good story, it takes my mind off my very difficult research job and it is an escape from the harshness of the real world. Why should it bother anyone else what I choose to read? I thought that was one of the advantages of being an adult, that you can make your own choices. Aren't adults allowed to have fun? And surely people who have more to say about other people's reading habits than their own should be the ones being criticised - mind your own business!
Alison Barker, Glasgow

Harry Potter is just so dull and very similar to 'The Worst Witch' series of books.
Cassandra, Essex, UK

The books not only succeed in taking children away from their computers but send out a strong message of loyalty and friendship. If the books encourage people to read then that can only be a good thing. I will be heading out to buy my copy at midnight!
AM, London, England

It's a shame that such rubbish, when suitably mass marketed, can be considered such a great achievement
Pete Copper, Crawley, UK
I, personally, am sick with the whole Potter hype. It's been latched on to and marketed to death! And all this has happened not because its original, not because it contains even the slightest smidgen of new ideas or poses any kind of important moral questions, not even because it holds any comedy value, its because idiots all over the world can have something to latch on to and get excited about and be sold a load of junk that is completely useless. It's a shame that such rubbish, when suitably mass marketed, can be considered such a great achievement. I have watched all the films (all of which show no originality whatsoever) and read all of the books, even though sometimes I was tempted to try and choke on it rather than turn another page.
Pete Copper, Crawley, UK

The mass commercialism of the Harry Potter empire is so obvious and I wonder if Miss Rowling has enough cash now to stop writing books. Please!
Hazel Walsh, Cork, Ireland

I am a Harry Potter fan, although I am only interested in the books and not all the other merchandise. I disagree with the comment about these books being only for those who watch soaps etc. I don't watch any soaps or any such trashy programmes. I believe the Harry Potter books take us to a fantasy world which is far away from the suffering that we experience all around us every day, hence the reason why we are so mad about them.
Judith, Oxford

I listened to the first three books on tape during long car trips and they helped pass the time. I tried to listen to the fourth and was unable to. It seemed so much like more of the same and not so funny or scary or interesting anymore. The commercialism offends me as well. My fellow citizens are so willing to buy into it without a thought. Meanwhile the corporate fat cats are laughing at us all the way to the bank. Why do our children need all this stuff to keep them happy anyway? I think we have our priorities all mixed up. It will be tomorrow's junk or put on the shelf with some of those unread books. What is the world coming to? Sue Durham
Susan Durham, Falls Church, VA, USA

If Robert Winder has only "tried to read one of the books", how can he judge the book fairly? I think JK Rowling has portrayed an excellent character who really reflects how a teenager views the world and the people around him. Anything is invariably subjected to criticism because nothing is perfect. But I think Harry Potter is as close to perfect as it gets.
Rich, London

Thank Lord. I thought I was the only one!
Tony, Crewe, UK




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