Random Thoughts,

by Rachael Whitcomb, Hudson Hub Times

associate editor;

I have never read a Harry Potter book, nor have I seen any of the movies made from the books, so you could imagine my confusion when I went to the Harry Potter Fest in Peninsula July 20.

Hundreds of people dressed as Hogwarts students or full-blown wizards actually made me feel out of place, dressed in my summer uniform of a tank top and jeans.

I tried to play along, though. A colleague and I stopped by "Flourish and Botts," usually the Blue Heron Bookstore, where my friend insisted I be "sorted."

I had no idea what this meant.

But, the good sport I am, I reached into a deep hat and pulled out a small block with the letter "S" on it. As I read my letter, shrieks and gasps abounded.

"What does that mean?" I asked my friend.

"You're Slytherin," she said with a look of pity, as jeers came from the crowd surrounding us.

"Is that good?" I asked, not expecting to feel any better after she answered.

"No," she replied with a small chuckle as she led me away from the crowd.

Ouch. I didn't even know what the significance of the name I drew, but guessing from the "slither" sound, it couldn't have been good.

There were other things I could grasp at the festival, though. I loved the "unicorns," the whimsical jewelry sold and the interesting ways people found to celebrate the new Harry Potter book. The most fascinating fact of all, though, was how excited people were about the release of a book.

No matter how much people talk about what the book is about and all the messages it presents, I still think it all centers on the fact that someone wrote a book that millions of people fell in love with. Then she wrote more. Then it was translated into pretty much every language, including ancient Greek and Latin, made into movies, marketed to death, and still, more people fell in love with the books.

As an avid reader, that alone excited me. Too often I hear friends and acquaintances say they hate to read. I could get lost in a book for hours until I move and find I'm frozen in the position I chose for the last four hours straight.

In my life so far, I have seen similar hype, but it has been over things a little bit ridiculous to me -- small electronic pets, stuffed animals that annoyingly make you feed and care for them like a child and pop bands put together by record executives. Though I don't know what a hippogriff is, silly muggle that I am, I can definitely appreciate the love of a good book.

Happy reading, Harry Potter fans!

E-mail: rwhitcomb@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3146