Living Up To Bookish Expectations

Last week I wrote a post about a book that I really enjoyed and how I was glad that I hadn’t let previous negative experience reading this author’s work, prevent me from reading her follow up effort. The author shared the post on her Facebook page whereby I was called out by a fan for being crass for having expectations of this book and then not liking the book because it hadn’t lived up to my expectations. (Full disclosure: being called crass was a particularly effective way of riling me up. I am a lady thankyouverymuch.)

Aside from the fact that I was delighted to cause such a strong reaction in someone reading my words, it did get me thinking:

The idea that one should start reading a book without any expectations is insane.


OK fine, you probably don’t want to go into reading all books thinking they should all measure up to your idea of that one perfect book (which is obviously Pride & Prejudice right?), because then you’re going to be disappointed. Again and again and again. And then probably again.

But we all have some expectations of the books we read. They are not one size fits all expectations across the board. But you wouldn’t pick up a book to read in the first place if you had no expectations for it.

You might want it to make you laugh or cry. Maybe you’re in the mood to take a break from this world and spend some time at Hogwarts, in Middle Earth, or Panem. Maybe you want to read something comforting and familiar or you want to read something uplifting.

Maybe the book you’re reading is supposed to teach you something new or challenge a belief system. Maybe it’s supposed to inspire you or spark a discussion. Maybe everyone has been talking about this one book and you want to know what the fuss is about. Maybe it’s being turned into a movie and the movie trailer made you want to read the book.

All of these are expectations, good or bad. The idea that I’m not allowed to say that I was disappointed by a book because it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be is, again, insane. That’s not saying that an author is not a good writer or the story is garbage and no one should read it. I’m saying that I thought it was going to be a certain way and when it wasn’t, I was disappointed. That’s totally allowed.

There are times when a book wasn’t what I was expecting but it was so much better than what I was expecting. Outlander, The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games, and anything by Maeve Binchy were all not what I expected (at all) but I still went in with expectations.

If you’re not going into reading with any expectations, I’m not sure you’re reading properly.


The Great Harry Potter Re-Read

I’ve always been a reader. My mom used to read to me every night (thanks Mom!) and once I was able to read for myself, I just started doing that all the time. I loved Anne of Green Gables, the Little House on the Prairie books, got started on the classics young, devoured the Anastasia Krupnik books (the other Lois Lowry books), and was devoted to Kit Pearson.


As my reading pace increased and I got older, I started dreading the day I would have run out of “children’s” books and have to read boring adult books; at the time there weren’t that many books for readers older than 12 but younger than 30.

Enter Harry Potter. I remember seeing the books everywhere at Christmas after the third book was published – I assumed Harry Potter was the author actually. I didn’t read them until I worked in a fairy store (true story – the shop sold fairy and magic merchandise and held children’s birthday parties; I dressed up as a fairy…we’ll just leave it there ok?) and the owner encouraged me to read them and familiarize myself with them in case people asked questions. The shop was insanely quiet all the time (not a massive market for fairy themed merchandise) so I started reading them at work.

And thus my love for JK Rowling was born.

As the books were published, I would re-read the ones that had come before, to refresh my memory on the story thus far and also, there still weren’t that many non-adult reading options. But once the books stopped coming out, there didn’t seem to be the same impetus to embark on a re-read.

But I missed Harry, Ron, Hermione, the Weasleys and Hogwarts. I’ve been thinking about embarking on The Great Harry Potter Re-Read for a while but there always seems to be a reason not to – these books are not quick reads so they will impact my ability to motor through my ever expanding TBR list. I watched the movies recently though and that solidified it for me: I needed to visit my old friends.

I’m currently making my way through Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which I refer to as the TSN Turning Point – this is the book where everything changes.

Let me just say – these books really hold up over time. They are still hilarious, delightful, full of suspense and captivating plotlines. Having watched the movies I had forgotten how funny the books are – the Weasley twins do not get nearly enough screen time. Even Ron is so hilarious in the books (intentional or not) and it just never quite translated to the screen. I had forgotten how much Snape really does seem to hate Harry – it seems all consuming and kind of unhealthy for a teacher to hate a student that much.


I’m excited to get through this one and reach the Order of the Phoenix, which is probably my favourite of the bunch. Professor Umbridge is scary as played by Imelda Staunton but I remember her inspiring terror in the book.

I’ve definitely noticed my reading pace suffer as I attempt to juggle two books at once (Harry Potter before bed and at home, other books on my commute) but I kind of think it’s worth it.

It feels good to be back at Hogwarts.