When I decided to keep Shabbat for good some 5 years ago, I was still single and discovered that when I am not invited somewhere to eat, being alone at home, without TV and computer is very boring.
So I started to read a lot. And as I read very fast, I needed to find a lot of books, quickly.
That’s when I started my romance with 7-books sagas. Series with many books are usually huge, so I takes a lot of time to read and they can fill a lot of Shabbat afternoons. That’s why I got interested in Harry Potter and its 7 books.
Originally, I had no interest in Harry Potter. I thought it was a book series for children. Then, I watched on TV the first two (pretty bad) movies and it appeared that, indeed, it was a book series for children.
But when the third movie came out, the media was so dithyrambic that I rented the DVD and had to agree it was already much better. I even went to the theater to watch the 4th movie. I have a friend who all the time tried to convince me that Harry Potter was much more intelligent and mature than I thought, so when I found the 6 first books on Amazon for 20 dollars or something like that – I decided to try. That was more or less my first weeks as a strict and regular Shabbat keeper (before that I used to keep Shabbat when I was in a group or invited).
Basically, it was a nice easy reading in low level English. I like that the books and the world got more « mature » (relatively speaking) as Harry Potter was growing older, I was hoping it was part of a plan, that JK Rowlings wanted to show us the magic world as a little kid might see: first with wonder, and then he grows up and is confronted to the dark realities and truth of the world.
But it was just the writer getting better as she wrote more books. Real world-building was not her thing.
Because – I got to the final mediocre book and its stupid and horrible ending and had to admit that I was right since the beginning – it was a book series for children.
From there, I heard about the 7-book series « The Dark Tower » by Stephen King, supposedly his own « Lord of The Rings ». It took him almost 30 years to write it and it does link together many of his books and his own personnal « mythology ». A movie or TV series is on the work and then cancelled all the time. Cuse and Lindelof, the Lost showrunners, were speaking about adapting it after Lost, so that got me interested.
It is no easy task to summarize these thousands of pages. It really is a weird mix between The Lord of The Rings, Clint Eastwood-Western movies and Science Fiction. Some parts are really great, close to genious, with really bright ideas. The third book is the best by far. Some parts are tedious (books 4 and 5 could have been much shorter). Some storytelling choices are among the biggest mistakes you can make – like putting yourself, Stephen King, as a character in the novel who is aware that he is the author of the book. I loved the ending. But the whole story made no sense, it is a complete incoherent and self-contradictory mess.
From there, reading a forum about the Dark Tower when trying to understand it, I heard about GRR Martin’s « A Song of Ice and Fire » series – another 7-books series (in the work as only 4 books had been written, and 5 since last July) ! And it was only praise, people speaking of the new Tolkien, or the best fantasy books ever, something not for stupid teenage geeks but real mature intellectual adults. So I bought (on Amazon as usual) the first book: « A Game of Thrones« .
For once the hype was true to the word. And the two following books were even better and crazier. I will not spoil for people watching the HBO series (very good also, if lacking a lot of the book details), but you have seen nothing yet. The fourth and fifth books are slightly disappointing on the other hand – because not a lot happens and because we have to wait 5 or 6 years between each book.
So, thanks to Shabbat I started reading much more. I don’t read only fantasy. It’s just that 7-books sagas are usually fantasy or Sci Fi, genres that I like but with great precautions knowing that 99% of the production is utter garbage.
Anyway last week something frightened me. The new « Twilight » movie is out (number 4, 5, 6 ??). No need to say the Twilight series gave us among the worst movies (watched with difficulty the first one and stopped after a third of the second one) and (apparently, I did not read them) the worst books ever. That’s not what frightened me. What did was listening to all the people, journalists, thinkers, saying how lame it was in comparison to Harry Potter, as if Harry Potter was some Shakespearian masterpiece.
The world is wrong.