Friday, October 28, 2011

Harry, A History: The True Story Of A Boy Wizard, His Fans, And Life Inside The Harry Potter Phenomenon By Melissa Anelli

Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon

Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon
By Melissa Anelli

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Product Description

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.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #180247 in Books
  • Published on: 2008-11-04
  • Released on: 2008-11-04
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .95" h x 5.46" w x 8.20" l, .72 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 356 pages
Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
With infectious, at times frenetic, excitement, Anelli presents two narratives in this hip report on how a boy wizard became a rock star. The first is a love letter to the fans of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter: a smart, creative, multinational, generation-spanning and technology-driven community. In the second, Anelli gives readers an exhaustive, if often jumbled, time line of Harry Potter's popularity. Appropriately for the webmistress of the Leaky Cauldron Web site, the author pays attention to the power of the Internet and its symbiotic relationship with fan communities, known as fandoms. Anelli attributes the evolution of fandoms principally to Harry Potter—an error that ignores other fandom phenomena like Star Trek or The X-Files. As she details her work with the Leaky Cauldron, readers get a view into the publishing world and the impressive tale of Harry Potter's ascension. Anelli also shares sweet scenes of meeting Rowling and the actors who portray the characters in the films. Fans will recognize themselves in these pages, and the curious might finally understand their friends. (Nov. 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
The words Harry Potter conjure up not only images of a successful seven-book series about a boy wizard but also the epic economic and cultural phenomenon it inspired. Author Anelli was front and center for much of this evolution and, as webmistress of the popular fan site the Leaky Cauldron, may even have contributed to it. Her painstakingly detailed account of the phenomenon's many aspects—fan sites, fan fiction, movies, promotional tours, podcasts, rock bands, and more—will be of interest primarily to hardcore devotees (and possibly, someday, to cultural anthropologists). Meanwhile, admirers of the books themselves will find less of interest here but will still enjoy the insider's glimpses Anelli offers of Harry's creator, J. K. Rowling, and of the series' publishing history, though there is little analysis of how the books changed people's attitudes toward reading and children's literature. Although she's not a particularly graceful writer, Anelli is a true believer, and her passionate devotion to all things Harry is often endearing and undeniably infectious. --Michael Cart

Review
[Audio Review] Anelli, webmistress of the wildly popular Harry Potter fan site The-Leaky-Cauldron here tells the complete story of the Potter phenomenon, investigating such aspects of the Potter world as the musical movement Wizard Rock, the cracking of the New York Times best sellers list, and the support fans gave one another in the aftermath of 9/11. Read with feeling by Renée Raudman (A Weekend To Change Your Life), who moves the story flawlessly along with her distinct characterization, and with a foreword by J.K. Rowling. For Potter fans of all ages. Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix P.L. --Library Journal

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

122 of 137 people found the following review helpful.
3Anelli, A History
By Runa
For all the fanfare this book has gotten, I'm not entirely sure all of it is deserved. It is a lovely look back at how the Harry Potter fandom evolved and got to where it is today, but there are some issues I do have with the book. One of the things I noticed was that Melissa told the book like it was a novel, a fictional piece, filled with flowery description that I feel has no place in what is essential a memoir of sorts. The intent of the book is to retell the HP fandom, from start to finish. Melissa pulls this off artfully, but if her intent was to reach the general public, it was not accomplished. From start to finish, this book is full of name-dropping and in-jokes that just another Harry Potter fan would never understand. In this book, the BNFs (Big Name Fans) rule supreme. The other side of the fandom is never shown. It took 90 pages for the first mention of MuggleNet, and all future mentions (of which there were very few and only when absolutely necessary) were cold and snobby. The HPANA is mentioned only once, in the acknowledgements, the Lexicon once, nothing about the humongous controversy, and no mention at all of Veritaserum and other sites out there. The truth is, Melissa fails to mention the side that truly appeals to the general fan. I did not feel, after reading this book, like I was part of the phenomenon, although I know I was, because I read the books, I posted in the communities, I had just as much fun theorizing, but nope, I didn't own a fansite or publish JKR's books, so I clearly don't matter. Probably about 90% of the Harry Potter fans would fall in my boat, not Melissa's. Where is our story? It was a good read, I will not say I disliked it, but I just wish Melissa had shown us the entirety of the HP world, instead of her secluded, high-and-mighty part of it.

Rating: 3.5/5

126 of 145 people found the following review helpful.
3Disappointing
By G. J. Land
This book really should have been called "Melissa, A History" because it is basically a biography of the author Melissa Anelli. I had expected more behind-the-scenes info on Harry Potter, the books, the movies, and JK Rowling. Although there is some of that in this book, there is much more Melissa than Harry.

The subtitle of this book is, "The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon". The promise of the true story of a boy wizard and life inside the Harry Potter phenomenon were very lacking. "His Fans" (specifically Melissa and her friends) was the bulk of this book. Unfortunately, I was primarily interested in the other two.

The book jumps around so unforgivenly at times it gets very confusing. A chronological approach would have made more sense. Melissa was actually on the movie sets and presumably spoke with the actors, producers, etc., but there is far too little of that in the book. The author also seems to expect that you are a rabid fan of the Leaky Cauldron web site, which she runs. I say this because she glosses over some blogs and interviews that were apparently posted on the web site, mentioning some fact and then moving on. She actually lists several questions asked of Ms. Rowling that I would have liked to seen the answers for, but apparently the reader is already supposed to know the answers.

I don't blame Melissa for cashing in on her position - writing a book is the way to go these days. I'm disappointed, because this book could have been something much better: better organized, better information, and, frankly, better writing.

76 of 101 people found the following review helpful.
5Your ESSENTIAL ringside seat to the Harry Potter phenomenon written by an insider, Melissa Anelli.
By George Beahm
Though there have been many dozens of books attempting to chronicle the particulars of Harry Potter fandom in all its dimensions -- the fan fiction, the Wizard Rock, the websites, the conventions, et al. -- all have fallen short because of the inherent difficulty in condensing its breadth and scope to manageable size; but this one admirably compacts ten, detailed years of Harry Potter history in its 356 pages, and covers the subject thoroughly.

It's a given that, if you know of Melissa's Leaky Cauldron website, you'll find this book to be an extension of the website, and delightfully so; but the real surprise for me was that it not only is for the die-hard fans but the rest of the world who are wondering, "What's all the excitement about?" This book answers that question.

In its pages, Melissa Anelli thoroughly covers Harry Potter fandom in a way that could only be done by an insider, by someone who has had access to virtually everyone of note in the Harry Potter community, fan and pro, and also what she calls "Team Potter" -- Rowling's publishers, agents, lawyers -- the professional team who rarely give access or interviews to their inner workings, and, most significantly, Rowling herself, a "first" for any book written about her. That "Team Potter" allowed Melissa access speaks volumes about their professional respect for her, which is why The Leaky Cauldron (a reference to a beloved inn and favorite watering hole in Rowling's wizarding world) is considered the best, most reliable source of news in Harry Potter fandom. (This year, especially, has been trying and divisive for fans, because of the trial between RDR Books and Rowling. During that regrettable and sordid episode, it was The Leaky Cauldron that was the voice of reason.)

In reading Melissa's first-hand account of what's happened in Harry Potter fandom and the book/movie worlds drawn from the seven Harry Potter novels, it's as if you're right there with her, being caught up in all the excitement: from public events to behind-the-scenes closed-door sessions, Melissa shares it all; and with its sense of immediacy, I found reading this book to be an intimate reading experience. The writing tone is in keeping with the infectious enthusiasm that characterizes most of Harry Potter fandom, and why fans are still, more than ever, pumped up about a boy named Harry. (And Severus Snape. And Professor Dumbledore. And the rest of the colorful characters in the wizarding world.)

A journalist with real-world credentials (she was a reporter for a New York newspaper), Melissa properly starts, and ends, the book with a discussion about the last Harry Potter novel, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. In coming full circle, there's a sense of closure, of course, and rightly so; but as 2008 has shown, Rowling has not retired, so there's more, much more, that is grist for the mill for a future edition: the publication of BEEDLE THE BARD, for one, and its eye-popping, record-setting price realized at auction for one of seven hand-written copies; and, of course, the Rowling/Warner Bros. vs. RDR Books trial, which was the subject of some of the looniest mainstream reportage I've ever read. (Like many others, I relied on The Leaky Cauldron for fair and balanced coverage. And it ain't over yet: RDR Books has filed an appeal.)

A bonus: There's also an eight-page photo insert (black-and-white photos), with some fascinating pictures: candid shots at Harry Potter fan events, photos of Rowling, and some photos of the author with some guy named Daniel Radcliffe, and Rowling herself + her PI (personal assistant), Fiddy Henderson.

At $16, the retail price, the book is a good buy, but at the discounted price on Amazon, it's a GREAT buy, and deserves a place in the library of anyone who has enjoyed the Harry Potter novels and wants a book that accurately puts the Harry Potter phenomenon in context.

Bottom line: This book is WELL worth your time and money, especially if you are too young to have been there when all of this went down, or if you're new to the Harry Potter world and want to know what all the fuss is about.

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