Light-speed reading: No pottering about with Harry

Imagine if the company running the fictional “Hogwarts Express” were to inaugurate a frequent-flier style promotion, whereby every trip along the route of Harry, Ron, and Hermione was credited and awarded. The number of gold-card members would be astronomical.
My nephew would certainly rank high among VIP readers. He read The Goblet of Fire (HP IV) an astonishing 27 times. He apparently is not alone. “The only thing I can compare it with that you might understand,” he informed me, “is aging wine.”
If only the I-95 corridor offered as much with each new encounter.
It’s not just the constancy of HP fans to the books that so impresses me. There’s also the speed with which they devour them. My brother manages a bookstore in the Shenandoah Valley where he has met kids who read the latest volume, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, twice in three days.
“Do they say it’s pretty good?” I asked stupidly.
“It’s 870 pages long, and they’ve read it twice in three days,” was his reply. “It’s not a bad book.”
Emmett Boaz, a self-proclaimed voracious reader, was less impressed by the feat, which works out to about 35 pages an hour.
“It shows a commendable concentration, but hardly blazing speed at roughly 400 words per minute. Really fast readers clip along at four or five times that,” says Boaz.
Of course, the calculations have to be altered when reading is forcibly terminated for a number of hours by a flashlight-confiscating parent, as my nephew would attest.
For many local Potter-heads the “Hogwarts Express” has been sadly congested. When the Hook went to press, Barnes & Noble has sold 2,642 copies of The Order of the Phoenix and was awaiting a new shipment to satisfy 400-plus clamoring back-orders. “I don’t think the publishers were prepared,” says B&N manager Jermaine Beverly. “They underestimated the power of this book.”
Hmmmm. Don’t know about that, Jermaine.
Over at the Jefferson Madison Regional Library, 37 copies of the book are checked out with 149 holds on the first copy returned. JMRL director John Halliday says the book is being treated like any other new arrival, with a borrowing term of three weeks. “The book’s so long many people will need that much time,” he says.
Don’t underestimate the HP reader, John. That’s enough time for the avid Hogwarts traveler to make 14 trips– or more, with a supply of spare batteries.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is available everywhere on-line and at Barnes & Noble (again) soon.

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