This article was submitted by NUPSA President and PhD student in Literature, Ash McIntyre.
Yes. Yes, that is a reference to Stephen Fry’s autobiography. Just to put my geek out there straight away, paired with my admiration for fellow geeks. And I mean that in the best possible way. I tend to think that most people associate the word ‘geek’ with the techy stuff first — computer gaming, World of Warcraft, PlayStation, Wii, and all that other stuff I know nothing about. (Seriously. I wrote ‘playstations’, and Word had to auto-correct me to say ‘PlayStation’.) I never had any kind of gaming console growing up, but what I did have was books. Lots and lots of books.
My first memory of my obsession with books is of forcing my Nanna to read Snugglepot and Cuddlepie again and again. I asked her about it not long ago, and she replied with, “Oh, that bloody book!” Funny, I remembered her LOVING Snugglepot and Cuddlepie…
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. A little creepy, to be honest.
Anyway. It really started the same way it started for many kids my age: Harry Potter. My little sister and I used to share a room, and Mum would sit on the end of one of our beds and read to us before we went to sleep. It was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. And my GOD, reading one chapter a night was SO SLOW! In the second chapter, Harry inflates his Aunt for taunting him; in the third chapter he runs away and sees a mysterious creature in the shadows and catches the knight bus and learns about a serial killer and meets the Minister for Magic and ALL OF THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING AND ONE CHAPTER IS NOT ENOUGH! So, I picked it up and started reading, covering the lamplight with my doona cover so I wouldn’t get in trouble. I was eight. It took me a week and I was hooked. I got books 1, 2 and 4 for my birthday and haven’t looked back.
I even had a competition with a boy in my class at school. It was cool to be a Harry Potter fan (the cool world was a new world for me, and that certainly did not last!), and he challenged me to read the books (4 being out at the time) as many times as possible within a determined period of time. This was not much of a challenge for me, as I was reading them compulsively at any opportunity anyway: before bed, during recess and lunch, after school. I won, declaring proudly that I had read the first 4 books twenty-two times each to his seventeen. Too. Cool. For. School.
I spent the next years collecting all the merchandise, the games, and of course the books, including the subsequent Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (my favourite creature was the Lethifold), and Quidditch Through the Ages. I even refused to read Emily Rhoda’s Deltora Quest because I read somewhere that they were becoming more popular than Harry Potter! Not if I had anything to do with it.
I’ll be honest, I have not read Harry Potter for several years, aside from introducing some of the kids I tutor to it as a text. I no longer have the merchandise. But I thank J. K. Rowling for my four overflowing bookshelves, my English major, my passion for reading and my firm belief in the power of the written word. #proudgeek
The Lethifold. Basically a shadowy black cloak that glides over you while you’re sleeping, smothers you and eats you. Still not as creepy as those gumnut children.