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Review: Melissa Anelli's 'Harry, a History' gives us a Potter fix

For booksellers, Thursday could be the day that saves Christmas: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling will be released.

Originally issued in 2007 in only seven handcrafted copies, the book is a collection of fables for children of the wizarding families in Rowling's imagined universe, a book that played a crucial role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Tales is not about Harry and his friends, but with more than a year past since the last Potter volume and eight months to wait for the next movie (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), fans are likely to be lining up for this little book already.

Tales is not the only new Potter-related book on the shelves, though. Harry, a History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon is a memoir by Melissa Anelli, who runs the Leaky Cauldron, an enormously popular Web site for Potter fans.

The book is an insider's view — the foreword is by Rowling herself — of the astounding fandom that exploded around the books and films, especially on the Web, by a young woman who was at the heart of it.

There's more to it than fangirl gushing (although there's some of that, especially when the author meets Rowling). Anelli also provides an interesting history of the Potter phenomenon, from how the books got written and published, and their revolutionary effect on children's publishing, to the unprecedented role the Internet played in connecting the series' millions of fans around the world and feeding the Potter frenzy.

Anelli reports engagingly on everything from her visits to the Potter movie sets to her interview with a Georgia woman who has crusaded to bar the books from school libraries. Perhaps most important to fans, Harry, a History offers a chance to relive the thrill of experiencing and sharing the books as they were born.

Colette Bancroft can be reached at or (727) 893-8435.


a History

By Melissa Anelli

Pocket Books, 356 pages, $16

Review: Melissa Anelli's 'Harry, a History' gives us a Potter fix 11/29/08 [Last modified: Saturday, November 29, 2008 3:31am]
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