This review will be a little different from my normal ones. If you couldn’t tell from the title, this work was in Spanish which is my second language. I want to talk less about the plot, which I’m hoping most of you know, and more about what it’s like to read in another language.
Harry Potter y la Orden del Fénix by J.K. Rowling. Translated by Gemma Rovira Ortega
Don’t worry, I’ll talk about this in English. Since I graduated with a Spanish degree in May 2012, I haven’t had many changes to use the skill. I had one opportunity while I was at my first job and there are a few people from Mexico in my building now. On occasion I’ll speak Spanish with two of them, but they want to practice their English as much as I do, so those times are limited. Most of my speaking is centered around a conversation group that I attend rarely. I feel a good way for me to practice is to read in Spanish as much as I can.
Because I’m so familiar with the Harry Potter world, reading the series in Spanish is something I though of doing after I graduated. I got through one through four pretty quickly, borrowing them from the library. But somehow, this 900 page behemoth was not deemed ‘child appropriate’ and not ordered for the children’s foreign language section. I huffed and my mom, being the sweet woman she is, surprised me with it as an early Christmas present… in 2012. So I’ve had it for a while. And I’ve been reading it for a while. My Goodreads graph is worthy of note here.
So yes, that does start in September and no it’s not of 2013. This was the book I read a little bit of when I was between books. If I finished a book on Friday and had book club on Monday, I’d read forty pages or so. It was never a priority. As luck would have it, my book club chose a title I read about a year ago and I found myself with some time to read something I wanted to from my personal collection. Crazy, I know. So instead of picking up one I’ve been waiting to crack into, I forced myself to finish this by my birthday, which is today, the day you’re reading this. I finished it on Friday. Epic. Win.
Pushing myself to finish was really hard. For a while in the middle, I was looking up every word I didn’t know. It ended up averaging 2 per page and I would look them up quickly on my iPhone, so it wasn’t a big hassle, but it got tiring. Around page 670, I knew I wouldn’t finish on time and just kept reading, only bothering to look it up if there were no context clues around. This got me down to a word per chapter. Because I’m so familiar with Harry already, there wasn’t much that I missed and I could guess at most of the weird words (mortífago is the translation for Death Eater).
No matter how much I looked up unfamiliar words, reading this would leave me mentally exhausted. With books in English, I can ready for hours before sleep but with this, my brain would be hurting after twenty minutes. It was a lot more mental capacity than I normally need.
I think the reactions of my coworkers was the best part about reading this. Many of them know I’m a crazy book nerd. I will sit in the atrium during lunch and read while I eat and many of them will stop by and ask what I’m reading. It’s a great conversation starter. Most of them had already asked after this book and recognized it because of how thick it is: 2 and 3/16 inches thick. That might not seem like a lot, but pull out a ruler and measure your book’s binding, then say something. According to Goodreads, this is the longest book I’ve ever read. I had it called ‘weight training’ and a phone book in one week. First they were impressed at it’s size, but when they found out it was in Spanish, at least one flipped out.
I’m very glad that I read this. I have the sixth and seventh books sitting on my shelf and while they’re a much more manageable length, I’m going to put them aside for a while. There are a lot of other titles on my shelf I’d rather get to first. I hope to pick another one up by the end of the year, but that’s no guarantee that I’ll finish it.
Reader, please don’t tell me I’m crazy. Have you ever read something in a language other than your native language? How was the experience for you? Are you glad you did it? Will you do it again? If you speak Spanish, leave me a note and maybe we can practice together!
This book is a classic in my mind. I’ll always love it. 4 out of 5 stars.
Until next time, write on.