I came late to the Harry Potter mania.
But I remember it well. It was the summer Book 4 was released, and I was home from college. My sister – a bona fide Potterphile from Book 1 – convinced my dad to chauffeur her to the neighborhood Barnes & Noble for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Midnight release? For a book??
I had never heard of such a thing.
And my little sis and I had a very tenuous and tumultuous relationship in those years, so I didn’t seek out any knowledge from her before she left that night, my yawning dad in tow.
But the next morning, when I found her curled up on the couch with the cartoonish Harry Potter on the green cover of Goblet of Fire in between my face and hers, I asked, “what is this Harry Potter?”
“Ohhhhh! You haven’t read Harry Potter?!?!?” she exclaimed with full volume (I still have some hearing loss in my right ear). “Ohhh, you have to read it! You haaaaaave to read it, Rachel!! It is sooo good!!! Sooooooo good!! It’s the best, really!! It’s about a boy wizard named Harry Potter. I can’t tell you any more than that because it is just…. It is just sooooo good! You have to read it!!!”
Well, with a dust jacket description like that, how could I refuse?
Little Sis lent me her copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone… and seven days later, I had finished all four books.
Now, diehard Potterphiles will remember that it was after the release of Goblet of Fire J.K. Rowling decided she needed to take a little break. No more releasing books in the series each year sometime over the summer. It was a glacial three years before The Order of the Phoenix was released!
How did we survive it?
And this time around, I was the one at the midnight release party. I came home with my 27lb hardcover Order of the Phoenix in hand, and I read the entire thing – yes, folks, all 48,000 pages of it – in a single day. Not a smart move since, once again, we had to wait for a geologic age to pass before Book 6 was released.
When it was time for Book 7, I made myself wait. I had just graduated from college that summer, and my mom was taking me on a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate. Note: let’s not think about how many years it took me to finish college, since yes, I was in between my freshman and sophomore years when Goblet of Fire was released, and I was barely graduating when Deathly Hallows finally came out. I knew if I bought Deathly Hallows to take with me on the cruise, I wouldn’t want to leave the ship. I would find some hiding spot in the boiler rooms and read. The Coliseum in Rome? The Parthenon in Athens? Ehhh… I can see those any time. I have to, have to, have to, have to find out what happens next in Deathly Hallows!
Yep – that’s why I didn’t buy the book until I got back. But torture I did endure since most of my fellow travelers did not adhere to the no-Deathly-Hallows-on-board-the-cruise rule. I saw so many mustard yellow covers with the black-robe-clad Harry reaching for the sky… let’s just say I was tempted to casually nick one while the hapless owner ordered a drink or something. With so many copies floating around, who would miss one anyway?
But I was good. And I bought my own copy when I returned from my adventures in the Mediterranean basin.
Where am I going with all this? That is simple (which means I should have gotten there much sooner): Book Release Anticipation. Yes, as a voracious reader, I suffer from the condition – the overwhelming and over-powering excitement that courses through one like blood in the veins awaiting a book to be released.
In fact, I can say with pretty definite certainty: there are few things I look forward to with more anticipation than the release of a long-awaited book. Sure, I get excited about upcoming vacations or about some change I am seeking. But it is the release of a book; one I have been waiting to come out, that really gets my heart racing, my blood thumping, my adrenaline coursing.
Because there is nothing quite like that moment when you reach out your hand, pick up the book you have been waiting for, for oh so many ages, and hold it in front of you… knowing that in mere moments, that incredible treasure will belong to you. You know those slow motion sequences in movies? Where the lights shine, the music pounds, and the camera zooms in? That is what should happen, in real life, every time a reader picks up a book s/he has been anxiously awaiting.
And you know what is even more amazing about Book Release Anticipation? It never gets old. No matter how many books you’re pining for (come on, Justin Cronin! Where is The City of Mirrors already?!?!), how many times you find yourself start the waiting game, the excitement rush is always on full force. You are always in that heart racing, blood thumping, adrenaline coursing mode.
For me, the most recent spell of BRA was the long and agonizing wait for Erik Larson’s new non-fiction masterpiece, Dead Wake: The Final Crossing of the Lusitania. Yes. The Lusitania. I am an ocean liner disaster nut – at last count, I had over 30 books on Titanic alone – so, dangle a new work about my second favorite maritime disaster (okay; that didn’t come out quite like I meant it to) by one of the best non-fiction authors, and I feel an over-powering case of BRA coming on.
Then, there was The Moment. The one that needs the slow motion kickstarting, lights shining, music pounding, camera zooming. I reached for Dead Wake, my hand wrapping around the spine, and felt that sense of surreal peace.
Me and the book.
All is right with the world.