Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J. K. Rowling

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. Albus Dumbledore

So I am beginning a series of blogs for audiobooks and I’m starting with Harry Potter. Audiobooks are something I have always wanted to try but never found the time to sit and just listen. I thought that starting with something I’m familiar with would help the process and what is more familiar not only to me but to a majority of the world. I’m hoping they’ll be posted alongside the main blogs but it depends on whether I find the time to listen to one book, read another and write about both, it may be that I do the first four books alongside my usual blog, but the last three as my main week blog due to their length.

I don’t think that there is anyone who doesn’t know this story, but if you are of the few that have never read, watched or heard the story of the boy who lived let me briefly explain the premise. We meet Harry Potter, the son of a powerful witch and wizard who are brutally killed when he is a baby. He is taken in by his reluctant and unhappy Aunt and Uncle who submit him to years of abuse and unfair treatment as they have strong opinions on the world he comes from. Years later he has is eyes opened to this world and most notably Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the school where he meets his best friends Ron and Hermione and discovers his destiny as a great wizard. In his first year he has to endure classes and exams alongside trying to figure out why headmaster Dumbledore is hiding a mysterious package beneath a three-headed guard dog and why it is so important to some serious people.

As my first audiobook I was hesitant I would focus too much on the voice actor instead of the actual story, but I was excited to learn that Stephen Fry voices the audio for the stories and he was the perfect choice. With some of my favourite podcasts I’ve gotten so bored or irritated by the voice I had to stop listening. I can’t see that happening with Fry as he gave each character a voice and personality through the assistance of Rowling’s writing, there wasn’t a character I couldn’t identify and enjoy through Fry’s voice.

I was happily surprised by how much I was enjoying the experience, I sat down whenever I had a spare half an hour and just relaxed into the story. I especially loved the differences between the movie and the book, my favourite part was Hermione being an absolute nut over exam preparation, it takes me back to when I had to study, revision plans and flashcards, it’s like looking in mirror. The friendships seemed so much more genuine in the book, nothing felt forced and there was the natural progression of friendship between the main trio instead of the “confined with each other” friendship we see in the movie. The same occurs with Neville, in the first film we see him around but the friendship isn’t made clear, we think of him as a secondary character that just happens to be in the same place as the main three, but in the book we see him have genuine interactions that make him useful and a key piece to the other three’s interactions with the story.

If you’re not an avid reader 1) why are you reading my blog? and 2) this is a great way to get into some of the best loved stories and I would recommend that if you’re interested in getting to know the literature behind the movies this would be the way to go. I know from experience that even the early books in this series can be quite wordy and heavy for just a casual reader even more so when you start getting to The Goblet of Fire and onward, having the story read to you is so much easier I feel and you can actually enjoy the story. I’m very excited to carry on to the next books.

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