Every two years, I make an effort to re-read the Harry Potter series. For many people, myself included, Harry Potter was the gateway into literature and the enjoyment of reading — I certainly thought of reading as a chore (or worse, a punishment) when I was younger until making my own imaginary trip to Hogwarts. I took two trips to the new Harry Potter store in New York City this year. I also finished reading The Deathly Hallows the day before I was fortunate enough to experience the production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Plus, HP is just a massive part of my childhood. The Sorcerer’s Stone film adaptation was released in 2001, and it was an absolutely phenomenal experience. It’s how I imagine adults born in the 60s and 70s remember watching Star Wars when it premiered in 1977. (In fact, HBO Max just released the 20th Anniversary Harry Potter Reunion Special that I am sure will be an incredible experience to watch.)
In any event, I spent this past fall re-reading the HP series, but only after I finished re-reading George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF). Ever since the end of HBO’s Game of Thrones, I had been itching to get back into the series. I had read A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and Fire & Blood (see my earlier book trackers), and they were both fantastic, but I still felt unsatisfied. Then, I began listening to the Radio Westeros and History of Westeros podcasts, which conduct deep-dive analysis and re-reads of ASOIAF in preparation for the eventual sixth book in the series. Once I started listening to those podcasts, I was finally convinced to go back and read through ASOIAF. I started reading A Game of Thrones in the Fall of 2020 and was only midway through A Clash of Kings when 2021 began — I didn’t finish re-reading A Dance with Dragons until July. It’s a shame since I also wanted to re-read Fire & Blood, which will, in part, be adapted in HBO’s upcoming series House of the Dragon.
This past year, I noticed how my reading comprehension has developed. I have watched Dr. Corey Olsen’s free seminars on The Lord of the Rings and The Histories of Middle-Earth (HOME) for the past five years through Signum University and the Mythgard Academy. Dr. Olsen’s teaching style focuses heavily on what is happening in the story at the moment. It uses that to understand how and why future events occur from an in-universe and literary perspective. Additionally, during his HOME seminars, Dr. Olsen goes into great detail on how Tolkien’s legendarium evolved over time, noting where new ideas were flourishing and how those ideas might have changed the series over time. I found myself replicating Dr. Olsen’s style at several points throughout this past year, making for much more fulfilling reading experiences of ASOIAF and Harry Potter.
I will not say that I didn’t read anything new this year. There were a few stories I was able to get through before December 31st, but I’ll be adding those to the 2022 Book Tracker. I have tons of books in my at-home library I have yet to read, so those will be some of the ones I plan on tackling in 2022. I also want to try and read through Hobbitus Ille, the Latin translation of The Hobbit, one chapter a month. I know that it will be difficult as it has been too long since I’ve translated any Latin (or Greek, for that matter), but I would consider it a personal accomplishment if I get through reading it.
Until then, I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and happy reading!