In preparation for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I have been rereading all the other five books of the series. I do this about once or twice a year anyway. It's hard to believe that back a few years ago I wasn't really interested in the series; I did like, it, but I was much too wrapped up in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy to pay it much attention. I purchased the books when they came out in paperback, which, any Harry Potter fan can tell you, was a long, long wait because the Potter paperbacks did not come out the usual year after the hardback novel as other books did. Scholastic was really milking the hardback Potter mania to the full.
I realized I had become hooked on Potter when Goblet of Fire came out. At that time Michael's craft stores were selling the Potter novels as well as little Potter geegaws like the Bertie Botts' jellybeans and the Lego Harry Potter pen. On holiday weekends Michael's always has 50 percent off coupons, and one holiday weekend (I can't remember which) I just gave up and bought Goblet. Later on, after James had read the first four books, I went back and replaced my paperback copies of the first three books with hardbacks.
We had a grand time when Order of the Phoenix came out, as the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company got together and did readings from the first four novels at the Barnes & Noble store at Perimeter Mall on the evening before the official release. At midnight, when the book was officially "out," they had been given permission to read from the first chapter. It was great fun: the cast dressed up in costume and there were prizes and games.
They are doing the same thing this year, but we won't be able to go. Oh, well, maybe for the seventh book. But if you're in the Atlanta area on the evening of July 15 and you're a Harry Potter fan, do make the trip to Barnes & Noble. You'll enjoy it.
By the way, I'm having my usual hard time getting through Order of the Phoenix. It's not, as some people have complained, because Harry is so angry all the time in the story (heck, if I were Harry, I'd be angry, too). It's a superb storybut so many dark things happen. It's like rewatching the "Who's Scott Sherwood" episode of Remember WENN.