Book Report: Quidditch Through the Ages

Published March 12, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

See, I said it wouldn’t be long before I got to the next one.  Because it was super-short.  Challenge #1 is “Read a book about sports.”  So, fine and dandy for those who like sports, but…I was thinking “am I gonna hafta re-read a volume of Ranma 1/2 or Bamboo Blade for this?”  I didn’t want to have to use manga for any of the categories, since there’s not a whole lot of actual reading involved there.  (Well, okay, I wouldn’t have minded using it for the two comic book/graphic novel challenges.  Though it turns out I won’t be using manga for either of them.)  Then I had a look at the Goodreads discussion of this challenge, and saw someone say they were going to use Quidditch Through the Ages, because the challenge didn’t say the sport couldn’t be a fictional one.  And I was like “yes, I think I’ll do that, too.”  (I knew I could easily get my hands on a copy, because my mother is a serious Potter fan, and bought the two volume set of Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them when it came out.  I don’t think she’s read this one, but I know she read Fantastic Beasts, because after we all went to see the movie, she got out the book and showed us the illustrations of some of the beasts that made it into the movie.)

It’s hard to know how to “review” a book like this, though.  Unlike my mother, I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, so I couldn’t remember exactly how much of this was culled from details sprinkled here and there in the books, and how much was invented for this little book.  (Though I’m pretty sure I do remember that Draco Malfoy committed almost all the listed ‘common’ fouls, all against Harry…)

The early chapters illuminating the history of how the game was developed were sprinkled with amusing little details (like the diary of a witch who only knew the name of one day of the week, so every day in her diary was a Tuesday) but actually left out the majority of the story of where the game came from; in the earliest instance provided, it’s already quite similar to the game Harry eventually plays.  The tantalizing tidbit that all 700+ known fouls were performed in a single match in 1473 is of course never fully developed; we’re only told a handful of the fouls (though, admittedly, it would be hard to top things like “attacking an opponent with an axe” or a player concealing a swarm of bats under his robes if you had to come up with a list of seven hundred of them.  It might be fun(?) to see an account of that brutal and bloody game.  (I’m sure if I went to AO3 or fanfiction.net, I’d find at least a dozen such accounts…)

And I’ve pretty much run out of things to say now.  I mean, it’s only 64 pages long!  Plus, like I said, I’m not a big fan of the books/movies it’s a spin-off of.  ((Un)surprisingly, my favorite part of the entire Potter universe was the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Because school-based story-telling is very limiting, and with such an interesting world to explore, why should we spend so much time on a bunch of school kids and their lessons?)  I’m sure it’s a more fun book for people who are more into the source material.

Current total:  11 challenges met, 13 to go.  Of the 13 to go, I have already bought/borrowed (or just already owned) books to meet at least 12 of them.  (Depending on what I use some of them for.  If I use The Girl from Everywhere for challenge #24, then I’m set for all of the challenges.  If not, I may have trouble filling in that challenge without buying/borrowing something new.  But I have several things on my “Read Harder 2017” list on Amazon that would meet its criteria, so it’s still cool.)


Anyway, since this wasn’t much of a post, I’m going to go on and talk more about my uncertainty regarding what to read for challenge #9 “Read a book you’ve read before.”

At first, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to read for it.  Then the situation in the real world made me think I should re-read 1984 and get a more clear picture of just where we’re headed.  But everyone else seems to have the same idea, and all the library’s copies are checked out (and my university has like five of them, btw), and I cannot for the life of me find the copy I read 20+ years ago.  (I think I might know what bookshelf it’s on, but it’s blocked off.  Plus as it’s a 20+ year old paperback, it’s probably musty and horrible right now.)  Given everything, I really don’t want to buy another copy, and my parents don’t seem to have one for me to borrow.

Of course, the question is, do I really want to re-read it?  I mean, having some warning isn’t going to make it any better.  Besides, I’m still hopeful that the system of checks and balances will prevail, keeping us from ever falling into the worst of Orwell’s predictions.  And, let’s face it, I still remember the most key detail:  the ending, which is actually more bleak than Brave New World‘s.  (I’d say that’s why I like Brave New World better, but I think that’s actually because it’s a brighter, cheerier type of dystopia.)  I also remember one major detail from somewhere in the middle, where the enemy in the war they’re always fighting changed one day, and only our protagonist seemed to notice.

But the most important thing I remember is that it’s not actually a very fun read.  And I usually use reading (outside of class work) for escapism, so wouldn’t it make more sense not to re-read it, and to pick something else instead?

It’s a bit of a quandary.

Really, the only strong argument I can see for reading it is that it might help me get more creative in my Velvet Goldmine fanfic, because that movie takes place in a somewhat Orwellian alternate 1984.  I’m not sure that’s quite a good enough reason.  Especially considering the original fiction I’m trying to create a world for; I should try and focus on that, rather than more fanfic.  Maybe.  I dunno.  I’m up in the air on that one, too.  (Well, that’s only appropriate:  the primary mode of travel in the original piece I’m trying to get prepared for is by airship.)

Of course, I had an interesting plan for what to read immediately after 1984.  My choice for #7 “Read a book published between 1900 and 1950” (which, actually, fits 1984, too) is another book in which the author was predicting the future — and some of the predicted technologies now exist — but it’s a significantly more hopeful one.  I think.  Well, okay, I know it’s more hopeful than 1984, because the very theme of that novel (as I recall it) is one of utter despair.  I’m just not sure it’s quite as hopeful as some of the material it’s since been adapted into.  Still, I thought it would make a nice counterpoint/counterargument/follow-up/antidote/whatever-you-want-to-call-it to 1984.

So I don’t want to start reading that other book yet if I’m still going to re-read 1984.  But I’m not sure I want to use that as my re-read.  I should probably pick something I enjoy, shouldn’t I?  (Actually, given what I’m planning on writing, I ought to read something with airship travel, but I’m not actually sure if I’ve ever read anything with airships before.  Not outside of manga, anyway.  Hmm…surely I must have at some point…)

Well, like I said, there’s still 13 challenges left.  I can leave #s 7 and 9 to the side for a while and work on some of the others.  I might read the micropress book next…in which case the review will probably be on Tuesday, because it’s also super-short.

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