I first heard of "Harry, a History" several months ago (on John Granger's blog, I believe) and it immediatly caught my interest. Being fairly new to the HP fandom (my first reading of the books was only 18 months ago) I was on the tail end of the crowd. So many things had happened that I knew little or nothing about. I dug around on websites, but even that couldn't give me an adaquate picture of what the last ten years have been like. I could tell just from looking around at the website (www.harryahistory.com) that this book was going to satisfy a lot of my curiosity.
I finally got around to placing an order on Amazon and decided to splurge and include this book in the order. I don't often buy books without reading them first (from a friend or the library). They must come very highly recommended or look exceedingly interesting and even then it's about 50-50 hit or miss.
This was definetely a hit.
"Harry, a History" is written by Melissa Anelli, webmistress of the Harry Potter fansite, The Leaky Cauldron. She has also worked as a professional journelist, and is now, of course, a published author. She has been a part of the world of Harry Potter for the last seven years and has reached the height of securing not one, but two exclusive, private interviews with J.K. Rowlings herself.
The book is an extremely accessible, engaging, informative and very well written history of everything from the conception of Harry Potter himself, to the influence of the internet on the phenomenon, and the creation of a new music genre, Wizard Rock. It details many experiences that any Potter fan would enjoy, with dozens of stories and ancedotes that make the lives of the books and their fans really come alive. This is the book that, fifty years from now, historians will read to try to understand what made Harry Potter so popular and how it all happened.
For me, the book was a way to feel that I had experienced a little bit of everything that I missed. I'll never be able to attend a midnight book release, but in Melissa's descriptions I feel like I have. Wizard Rock sounds intimidating, but with Melissa explaining how it all started, it really becomes intriguing and inspiring. I'll never engage in a shipping debate, (who will Hermione end up with, Ron or Harry?) but Melissa's stories of those intense debates makes it quite plain that I can be very glad I won't.
And for me, there's another personal connection to the book. In a way Melissa and I are very similar people. We're both writers, we both run website/forums for our favorite authors, we both find incredible meaning, inspiration, and joy in being "big players" in our respective fandoms. This winter has not been an easy one for me and Melissa's story encouraged me to continue on, be bold, and dream big.
So if you're a Potter fan, go ahead and pick up a copy. You won't regret it.