The time has come for me to make a confession. Because I'm in such a minority, it takes some courage to come forward like this. Here goes: I have never read a Harry Potter book, and I don't think I ever will. Does this make me a bad person? Does this mean I'm culturally illiterate? Is this proof that I have no taste? Am I the only person in the world who has no interest in Harry, and no idea what a Muggle is? There, I said it, and I feel much better.
Once again, the latest Harry Potter movie is Number One at the box office. The books continue to be huge bestsellers. Readers and fans are not just kids, but adults as well. All those millions of people can't be mistaken, so what's wrong with me?
I've tried several times to read a Harry Potter book, but I've never been able to get into it. It's not Harry Potter specifically. It's the genre that puts me off. For some reason, I've never been a fan of this kind of fantasy literature in which the author creates a world whose inhabitants and rules are unlike the real world, but the action supposedly takes place in our real world. And it's hard for me to worry about a main character when I know that he or she will get out of trouble by magic. If someone can become invisible, turn into a monster, or scare the villain by saying a secret word, how much jeopardy is that character really in?
I was never a big fan of cartoons when I was a kid. Cartoon characters jump off cliffs and, because of the "cartoon law of physics," are able to be suspended there for a few seconds before they realize they are in danger. Once they do realize this, a combination umbrella/parachute will appear and bring them safely to the ground. As a six-year-old knowing this, I couldn't get too worried about these guys. I've seen ads for the new movie "The Chronicles of Narnia" (whose subtitle sounds like a punch line to an old Johnny Carson joke: "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe"). When I saw that an animal actually talked, I knew it wasn't for me. While I appreciate the artistry that goes into creating such worlds, they always end up seeming arbitrary and uninteresting to me.
For me, the fascinating story is the story behind Harry Potter — that of author, J.K. Rowling. Her amazing tale seems more miraculous than any fantasy could be. It was always her dream to be a published author. She worked on the first Harry Potter book for five years. For Year Number Five, she was impoverished, living on public assistance. She was a single mother, and whenever her baby fell asleep, she would rush with her in the stroller to a café where Rowling would get some writing done. She had never had a book published before. "Harry" not only won all kinds of awards, but made her rich. She is now wealthier than the Queen of England, and perhaps even richer than America's queen — Oprah.
She feels her greatest accomplishment was becoming a published novelist. In a bit of understatement, Rowling says she managed to do all this because of "perseverance." She beat the odds, and her dream came true. Now, that's a book I'd love to read, and it's a movie I'd be happy to wait in line to see.
I envy all of you who can be thrilled by the Harry Potter stories, but they're just not for me. I guess if I want to be entertained by tales of evil masquerading as good or of people just ignoring reality, I'll just have to stick to reading the newspaper's political pages.
Lloyd Garver writes a weekly column for SportsLine.com. He has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.
By Lloyd Garver
Copyright 2005 CBS. All rights reserved.