Harry, a History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenonby Melissa Anelli
The Harry Potter Books Were Just The Beginning of the Story...
During the brief span of just one decade, hundreds of millions of perfectly ordinary people made history: they became the only ones who would remember what it was like when the Harry Potter saga was still unfinished. What it was like to seek out friends, families,/b>/big>
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The Harry Potter Books Were Just The Beginning of the Story...
During the brief span of just one decade, hundreds of millions of perfectly ordinary people made history: they became the only ones who would remember what it was like when the Harry Potter saga was still unfinished. What it was like to seek out friends, families, online forums, fan fiction, and podcasts to get a fix between novels. When the potential death of a character was a hotter bet than the World Series. When the unfolding story of a boy wizard changed the way books are read for all time.
And as webmistress of the Leaky Cauldron, one of the most popular Harry Potter sites on the Internet, Melissa Anelli had a front row seat to it all. Whether it was helping Scholastic stop leaks and track down counterfeiters, hosting live PotterCasts at bookstores across the country, touring with the wizard rock band Harry and the Potters, or traveling to Edinburgh to interview J. K. Rowling personally, Melissa was at the center of the Harry Potter tornado, and nothing about her life would ever be the same.
The Harry Potter books are a triumph of the imagination that did far more than break sales records for all time. They restored the world's sense of wonder and took on a magical life of their own. Now the series has ended, but the story is not over. With remembrances from J. K. Rowling's editors, agents, publicists, fans, and Rowling herself, Melissa Anelli takes us on a personal journey through every aspect of the Harry Potter phenomenon -- from his very first spell to his lasting impact on the way we live and dream.
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Within twenty-four hours, everyone would know. They'd read about it on their computer screens or in the newspaper; they'd find out on their way to work or over morning coffee, listening to the radio or watching television. The news would be shouted into their cell phones or overheard on the train. They'd talk about it at the watercooler and on coffee breaks. There'd be group e-mails, message-board postings, hastily scribbled notes. They'd call grandchildren, and grandparents, to share and discuss.
The news would race around an electronic ribbon in Times Square and on billboards in London and news tickers all over the world. It would break into regular broadcasts and be teased on the morning shows. It would be whispered behind cupped hands in classrooms and screamed across playgrounds. Some would laugh and others would cry, but all would be affected. The news would skitter at light speed, unstoppable, through land lines and fiber-optic cables and over airwaves until it reached workplaces and houses and playgrounds, multiplying until it could weave itself into a blanket and cover the world.
I was barely conscious when I found out. I was on my bed, fully dressed, lying on my stomach and trying to keep my head from lolling right onto the keys of my laptop. When my phone rang, my head hit the keys like a dropped melon. I groaned and rubbed the new indentations on my nose while fumbling for the Talk button.
It was Sue Upton shrieking at me, and I let the phone fall so I could use my remaining free hand to rub what now felt like a punctured eardrum. At this rate I'd end up comatose before breakfast.
Sue was still yelling, the sound muffled from the dropped phone, but now completely unnecessary. Clarity broke upon me and I knew exactly what she was yelling about. It was why I was lying next to my keyboard, the reason I had been awake in the first place. The last few hours replayed themselves in my mind in a blink. Barely 10:00 p.m., sitting at my friend Julie's house, watching television after a light news day, chatting during commercials. Reaching for my cell phone out of unbreakable habit, as natural a motion as blinking. Tapping my Web browser, waiting for my e-mail to load, all without interrupting the flow of conversation in fact, barely showing I was holding a phone at all. Flicking my eyes down to the screen, just to check that everything was all right online while I was away from a computer. No important e-mails, good. No emergencies, no broken servers, good. Pausing. One, two, three, four e-mails. Four of the fifty e-mails I'd received over the past hour were eerily alike and seemed to come from different parts of the country with the same news like witnesses who chose the same man from a police lineup.
"I work in a bookstore and we just got an e-mail from Scholastic..."
"...it said something big is coming..."
"...said it's what we've been waiting for...Do you think this is that?"
I did, but didn't know if I wanted to. It had been such a calm, slow day, for a change, which meant I should have known it would be followed by a crazy parade. Six years on this beat had taught me to shake out the news from the rubbish, and this this felt real. This felt like everything had just changed. Those short and simple e-mails had effects on me far disproportionate to their size my heart seemed to sneak up into my throat and stick, pounding through me with the same rush I got when I reached the top of a roller coaster about to get to the best part, the part I'd been waiting for, but still panicky and unsure I was ready to plummet.
Julie asked what was wrong but I was already gathering my stuff, making my apologies, telling her to check the Web site the next morning, bowing my way out of the apartment and calling Sue, the site's senior editor.
"I know," Sue said, instead of "hello." A clear thrill trembled under her words.
"They look real, Sue," I said. "Is this happening right now?"
"I think it is!" There it was again, that squeal of happiness threatening to break free. I denied myself my own flourish of giddiness, which was squirming around in my chest. No way. There was an announcement to be made in mere hours, and we'd be helping bring it to millions, and we were not ready, there were things to do and lists of things we had wanted to do and all these things we had planned to do, and now...
"I have to call John. And D. H. And Nick, and Alex, and Doris, and everyone, and make sure we're going to stay up tomorrow and get a low-bandwidth page ready and get home, and, and...a lot of things."
Sue made a squeaking sound. She was going to burst. T-minus thirty seconds and counting.
"See you online at five a.m.? Podcast right after?" I asked. No answer. "Sue?"
A high-pitched squeal exploded out of the phone and assaulted my eardrums. I held the phone at arm's length. "Oh my God, Melissa it's coming now!"
"Yeah, I think it is," I said, and with that she had infected me. The words wavered as though I'd rattled them, and I danced a little on the spot.
Five minutes later I was on my way home. I called John on my car phone as I hit the Staten Island Expressway, which was thick with late-January mush. He answered thickly and it sounded like I was distracting him from something more important.
"So, are you ready for this?" I asked, and told him what I thought was about to happen.
"Are you kidding me?" John yelled. "Now? Holy " and he let loose a stream of obscenities. "That's it? We're on a six-month timer?"
"I'll be damned. What am I going to do with school?" John worked on a trimester basis, which meant he didn't get the same summer breaks as every other student, and the idea that he might not be able to take part in whatever celebrations were going on this summer was already causing a tightness in my chest. "I'm going to need about a month off."
"We'll work it out," I told him.
He promised to be awake and alert at 7:00 a.m. to record a podcast, and to stay up afterward to create a countdown for the site, and we hung up. I paused before calling Alex; genius programmer or not, he was in high school, and it was late; I could send him an e-mail when I got home, and he'd be up in time to act on it. Nick would be sleeping; it was nearly 4:00 a.m. his time.
Out of people to call, I drove in silence, worried for a moment that this was all an elaborate scam. No, it couldn't be what would the plan be, to send e-mails from all corners of the country to convince people to wake up early on a specific day, realize there was no news to be had, and go back to bed? That wasn't even a scam, it was a complicated and pointless prank. This had to be real. Scholastic had informed bookstores to be on the alert tomorrow for a huge announcement. And there was no reason for them to do that, except
The phone rang, and I laughed upon seeing the caller ID. It was Paul. Was word spreading so fast inside this community that it had already gotten to the rock stars?
"Yo, Anelli," he said, as always sounding slightly bemused. I waited for him to ask me if the rumors were true. "I've got news."
"So do I."
"I'm announcing the EP of the Month Club tomorrow!"
He might as well have said, "I'm going to the moon tomorrow!" I'd have the same reaction. "Such a bad idea, man."
I filled him in. No announcement of any kind in our community would get any play tomorrow except one. Not even if Bruce Springsteen decided to cover Britney Spears for Paul's charity compilation would it get any attention tomorrow. To my surprise, Paul wasn't annoyed he just started talking more swiftly than his usual sauntering pace allowed.
"When do you think it will be? Joe and I are betting on July 31. We're planning our whole tour around it, I've got it all mapped out, we'll be back in Boston for the release. The birthdays, you know?"
"But that's not a Saturday. They always come out on Saturdays," I offered, then yawned and exited the highway at my stop. "All right. I have to get home and e-mail everyone in the world. Check the site when you get up. If it's even working."
Helplessness while driving made me twitchy. I thought briefly about calling Cheryl, but that would be pointless; she wouldn't be able to tell me anything anyway, and to press her wouldn't be fair. And besides, she'd just lie. In fact, I realized, laughing grimly, she had lied to me less than a week ago. We'd had dinner and she'd said...Oh, I was going to get her back, and soon.
There was nothing left to do, not until I got to my computer. I tapped the steering wheel impatiently and tried to obey the speed limit. Tomorrow was it; this frigid final day of January was the last day of sanity, at least for a while. What had started seventeen years ago would now end in six months. After a year and a half of waiting, a year and a half of preparation, a year and a half of knowing that this announcement was only a breath away, I now felt like my own breath had been stolen. For me this journey had lasted seven years, and it had changed me, and now it was time to say good-bye. If I could, I would have put out my hands and pushed back against the oncoming train.
But morning was coming despite my wishes, so I parked the car in front of my building and dragged myself upstairs to my shoddy apartment. I fired off a storm of e-mails: to programmers, to tell them to be ready to defend our Web site against the onslaught; to our hosting company, to ask them to monitor our bandwidth and give us more when we needed it; to John, to describe what the site countdown should look like; to editors; to all the senior staff; and to friends and family warning them I'd be out of touch. David and Kathleen got texts of warning. I prepared our links and wrote a draft post, and fell asleep with my laptop next to my head.
At 5:00 a.m. on February 1, Sue was waiting for me, with an IM conversation already flashing on my computer screen. We had, no doubt, overshot our time frame announcements usually came at 7:00 a.m. by waking at 5:00, but better safe than sorry. We stared at the only Web site that mattered, which wasn't ours, and tried to use our knowledge of code to see which files changed, to try and get a few minutes up on the news, try to get ahead of it just a little. A few more e-mails like the first four had trickled in overnight, slow and steady, confirming that this was not a drill.
Everything was set. Our post was ready, just waiting for one crucial piece of information, and I had, in my early-morning stupor, nearly hit Publish prematurely. My hands shook while we waited. I checked news sites religiously. I put on NBC in the background. I fended off my cat, who seriously wanted my attention, but with my luck the news would hit in the minute it took me to fill her bowl with water.
And then waiting overtook me. I succumbed to a little nap, my fingers still poised in the air over my keyboard. Sue's phone call, and her shrieks, woke me back up, and when I had shaken the stiffness out of my fingers and willed them to work again, it was to refresh the site that had been my main focus all night: JKRowling.com. The words I'd been waiting for all these years were now there for me to see, and I barely even registered what they were as I typed them into my own site and hit Publish.
It took only moments for others to do the same: the news started breaking widely. Behind me, on my television screen, someone handed the anchorwoman a folded white piece of paper, as though they were announcing a war had broken out. My phone started buzzing with text messages, and then calls.
In the next few hours all the news outlets would pick up the story; the announcement would run all around the world. Schoolchildren in Ireland would write the date on pieces of white paper and post them all over their schools' walls. At a university in Australia, one student would shriek and fall off her chair. The news would go no faster around the Times Square ticker than through passed notes in high school classes.
Later, the mingled joy and sadness at the date, and at the end of it all, would start to spread over the fandom. Cheryl would finally call me and shout, "We know something you don't know!" through her speakerphone, and I'd swear to get my revenge at an undetermined date and time; Paul would e-mail me with expletive-enhanced declarations about having to reschedule his whole tour; JKRowling.com would update with further news; and the Leaky Cauldron would groan and crack under the traffic, leaving us to hold the site together with the digital equivalent of Silly String and a Band-Aid. But all that would come later. For now, all I could do was stare at the words I had just written on my screen, words that would shape the next several months of my life, that signified the end of an extraordinary time, a time that had given me confidence and purpose and independence, an era in which millions of people found fun and community and enchantment under one boy wizard's thrall.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be published on July 21, 2007." Copyright © 2008 by Melissa Anelli
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Meet the Author
Melissa Anelli has been reporting on the Harry Potter phenomenon since 2001. As the webmistress of the Leaky Cauldron (www.leakynews.com), she has written and spoken for Harry Potter fans in media outlets worldwide. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2001 and spent several years as a daily news reporter and features writer in New York City. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her ferocious cat, Moochka. For more visit www.harryahistory.com.
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I was a second grade teacher during the height of the Harry Potter craze. I saw first hand what an impact this extradinary series had on emerging readers. Kids who never voluntarily read anything were reading every spare minute. Kids who were usually causing some kind of havoc were sitting quietly in the reading corner with their noses in a book. And not just Harry. From the Harry Potter books, they passesd on to other books. I firmly believe that Rowlings did more to get kids of an entite generation to read than all the government programs and all the innovative reading series combined.
Unlike most of the books published about JK Rowling, Harry Potter, or the Harry Potter phenomenon, this one is authorized; more to the point, Rowling herself was interviewed extensively for it, along with many of her professional associates, and Rowling also contributed--for the first time ever in any book about her work--a foreword in which she justly praises the book for its thoroughness, its unbridled enthusiasm, and its documentation of what has to be the most anecdotal, information-packed, intimate exploration of Harry Potter fandom ever.
Suffice it to say that if you like what you see at Melissa Anelli's website, The Leaky Cauldron, you'll definitely feel at home and enjoy this book, which begins and ends with discussions on HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. For me, what makes the book so enjoyable to read is that Ms. Anelli knows everybody in Harry Potter fandom and prodom. From "Team Potter" (as she terms Rowling's professional contacts) to fans from every corner of the Harry Potter universe, Melissa's magical Rolodex is a Who's Who of writers, editors, musicians, lecturers, publishing contacts, booksellers, and anything else you can possibly think of: The strength of the book is that she draws on all these sources for commentary, insights, and interview material. The result is that the book is like a rich, meaty stew, sufficient to satisfy anyone with an appetite for a big "helping" of Harry Potter prose-related sustenance.
A major coup for this book is the inclusion of Rowling's perspective, which only an authorized book can offer. With Anelli, Rowling is candid, conversational, and clearly enjoying talking with someone who is well-versed in all things Harry Potter. Rowling obviously has a real appreciation for the dedication that Anelli brings to The Leaky Cauldron, and this book as well. (Rowling read the book prior to writing her introduction.)
There is an eight-page photo section on glossy stock, but the pictures (alas) are in black-and-white. (Anyone who's been to a Harry Potter conference knows that the pictures really ought to have been in color, to do them justice.)
If you're looking for me to criticize the book, I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you. I think this book is compulsively readable and engaging, and even though I know a few things about Harry Potter Phenomenon, I've learned a lot more by reading this book: its author has an infectious enthusiasm that is engaging, as is her writing style. (No surprise there; she's a journalist who cut her teeth at a New York newspaper.)
There will certainly be many more books poking, prodding, and examining every corner of the Harry Potter universe, but if you want a book that shares the insider's view, and you want it well-written, and at a very reasonable price, you can stop searching: buy this book--it will not disappoint.
Two minor cavils: the pulp paper will turn yellow and brittle over time, so I wish the publishers had spent a few more bucks and gone with an acid-free paper stock; also, I would have happily paid more for a sturdily bound hardback with sewn signatures, so the pages don't eventually fall out, because I can easily see myself reading, and rereading, this book every time I want a taste of Harry Potter fandom: reading it is like having a long, informative and informal talk with its author, who has written a book that is, in my opinion, essential reading for any die-hard Harry Potter fan, and an indispensable ed
This is the most interesting book I have read since the real harry potters.
I've just spent the weekend reading this book and I had a really hard time putting it down when I had to. Melissa does an excellent job of telling her story of life inside the Harry Potter fandom, which allows the readers to look back and remember where they were while they were watching and reading about these events. Her book is a very personal story, but at the same time, she makes it not all about her. She has really done her homework and researched every aspect of the events that were associated with Harry Potter. She even ventured to go where no avid HP fan had gone before and faced Laura Mallory to ask her "Why?". This book is a must read for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the Harry Potter series. It helps us understand how the series became so popular and gathered such a hard core following and how it brought people together through a love of a book. It also shows us a bit of a more candid side to J.K. Rowling that will make you love her even more that you did before.
Whether you are an Internet, Potter, pop culture geek or just enjoy reading about someone following their bliss, give ths book a try.
This book makes the excellent choice of wrapping a personal story inside a narrative to elevate facts into a transformative reading experience. It could have been a boring retelling of fact; instead Anelli takes us into the journey of someone who experienced enough of the phenomenon to make that journey worth hearing: herself. She's brutally honest about herself, which is refreshing; she's an excellent writer whose prose flows easily from personal to factual, which is nice to see on someone so young.
I recommend it for anyone who has ever read Harry Potter, to see what life was like before the last one came out; I recommend it for anyone who wishes to gain insight on the publishing factors that made the book a phenomenon; I recommend it for anyone who wonders what all the hoopla was about.
This book is wonderful for anyone who is a fan of Harry Potter or just wants to understand how the craziness happened from a true insider. Melissa Anelli has the unique position of being a true fan not connected to any of the publishers or other "official" people, but still have an insiders view. Ask any member of the fandom and they can tell you who Melissa Anelli is. She is a Celebrity Fan. A fan that all the other fans know.
Giving us a wonderful, descriptive story to the beginning of the well-known and loved Harry Potter, Harry, a History started with a clever title (instead of Hogwarts, A History, Harry, a History) to the very last chapter. I must admit, I had very low expectations in this book, but once I picked it up, I realized that I could NOT put it down. it's a wonderful book, and I hope you guys enjoy reading it. 4/5 Stars!
I am a diehard harry potter fan but I can't get through this book. It was all about melissa's story with harry and honestly, that's boring because that's like if I published my story with harry potter which of course wouldn't be interesting to anyone except my friends. I was expecting it to be amazing. I don't really like Leaky though which shows because I read Mugglenet's what will happen in hp7 in like two hours and read it over and over...
Reading Melissa Annelli's book was like taking another trip through the past few years for me. I am a huge Harry Potter fan and it's amazing to have a book to read that captures the essence of the Harry Potter fandom. The writing is excellent and it keeps you hooked. Melissa is a real talent.
For Hermiones sake she should make a Hogwarts a history
I have mixed reviews about this book¿ On one hand as a Harry Potter fan, I loved the extra insights from JKR on the world she so brilliantly created. However, I think this book is much more autobiographical of Melissa Anelli than represented in the title. I don¿t own a Hogwarts House robe; I didn¿t attend Leaky Con and am not a fan of wizard rock. I don¿t feel this makes me less of a fan; although after reading this book I somehow feel guilty for calling myself one without having done these things. I felt the author was getting a little preachy when making reference to Harry and the Potters spreading their message through song. I did enjoy the bit about the author meeting with activist Laura Mallory. I remembered being in church, in my early 20's, and hearing the preacher condem Harry Potter while I knew good and well he had never read the books. For the life of me, I still do not understand the basis of some of these claims. Technically speaking, I have a few complaints. The epilogue starts ¿ way through the book. The actual interview with JKR takes up nearly 150 pages, which would be great except a lot of it was already discussed in the book. The word ¿canon¿ is used 26 times. Nothing will turn me off of a book faster than repetition of words. Also, the timeline is very inconsistent in this book. We jump around from the author waiting for book five to remembering a time when she was waiting for the second movie, then ahead to waiting for the sixth book. It is all very confusing and the shifting timeline is my biggest irritation in this book. I am not too proud to say that of course I am envious of the author and her relationship with JKR (and the fact that apparently she can jet set all over the world without worry about job or money). There were definitely times in this book where I laughed out loud and I love that, in parts, the author makes us feel so at ease with JKR it feels as though we are there in her sitting room, curled up on a sofa eavesdropping. Still, I felt that the book was basically an autobiography for Melissa Anelli and plugs for The Leaky Cauldron (which I do visit). I do not feel it was represented properly in the title, nor in the description. However, I have learned some new things about Harry Potter and do not consider this a total waste. I just wish I had been more aware about what I was buying.
I <3 Harry Potter! I also <3 this book! 500000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 stars to it and Jk Rowling!
This book is written from a fan's point of view and details her journey from reading the Harry Potter books to having a significant role in the evolving fandom that has risen ever since. If you're a beginning Harry Potter fanatic, this is a great place to find many of the things that Potter fans have been doing for years that one could have missed out on, like the music genre, Wizard Rock, where I've found some great bands and fun music. (I'm so sick of the crap on the radio!) As well as the StarKid YouTube channel with the excellent Harry Potter musical parodies. And of course, the Leaky Cauldron's website.
Out of 400 something pages, I read 200 something and I've learned a lot about fanfiction and some wizarding rock bands, but really this doesn't seem like the book about the 10 wonderful fan years of a Harry Potter fan, it reads more like some diary gloating about how she thinks she is the biggest fan in the world. Reads like a diary. Horrible.
I'm only a quarter of the way through and it has me hooked almost as much as an actual Harry Potter book. It is a good book and totaly worth the money. Even if you aren't a potter fan but are into modern culture reads you will love this.
Buy the free sample it gives you three chapters
Took 2 hours at b&n hot spot Contains 1 hour podcast and videos Long download time
This book is like sugar, sweet, delicate, and something you know is special. This book is extremely close to my heart personally because I'm very proud of author Melissa Anelli to complete such a great accomplishment and now share her beautiful journey with anyone who wishes to read her story. The JK Rowling Forward and Special Interviews will certainly be exciting for any fan. This book is amazing, and is a labor of love, which anyone will most certainly enjoy.
I need a book with all the HP spells.
I love it best diary in the world. I love you harry potter. Oops i said that out loud
Everbody thinks that JK Rowling is her real name. Well, it isnt. Her real name is Joanne Rowling. No K. The reason it says K on the books is because her publisher said that it would appeal to male audiences more. So there. If you dont belive me then LOOK IT UP!
This book was both insightful and wonderfully written. I have learned so much about the book industry, the Harry Potter fandom, and the Harry Potter books themselves! But it's not all information - the reader follows Melissa's, and the fandom's, story throughout the entire book, keeping you in suspense. It's nonfiction, but you still cant put it down. I'd recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the Harry Potter series, Wizard Rock, someone who wants to learn more about the industry, or someone who just wants a fascinating read.
I originally bought and read the paperback version of this book and can honestly say its amazing. It goes through Melissa's journey as a Harry Potter fan, and while most people haven't had the same experiences she has (like interviewing J. K. Rowling or meeting the actors) her writing is very relatable and enjoyable. I would recommend this version in particular because of the exclusive videos and interviews. Definitely not a waste of money.