The Twelve Year Struggle of Reading Harry Potter


Classes have started back (Boomer Sooner!) and this semester is already packing a punch! My mornings start with getting up at 7 a.m. to get ready for 8:30 and 9 a.m. classes and from there I feel like I start a new marathon everyday. From class to strategically squeezing in windows of time for homework to going to meetings for PRSSA and Lindsey + Asp and going to Sooner Servants stuff, I find myself turning into a pumpkin around 10:30…and 11 if I’m lucky. All I can say is this week has been a whirlwind and this semester will probably be insane!

Speaking of insane and new happening in the life of Candace Hinnergardt, I had to get another blog for my PR publications class **cue eye roll** so if you’re interested in following the projects I’m doing in that class you can check out because one can never have too many blogs I guess.

Now, to things I’d much rather spend my free time writing about: I FINISHED THE HARRY POTTER SERIES THIS WEEK!!!!!!! It was a 12 year endeavor that took multiple attempts, but I can say I powered through and finally discovered what all the hype was about.

Harry Potter

Yes, you read correctly. It took me 12 years to finally finish one the most popular series of our time and possibly of all time. I read The Sorcerers Stone in third grade and quite honestly I struggle through it. At that time I was a very particular reader and Harry Potter wasn’t exactly in line with my taste. I remember having to re-checkout the book multiple times before I finished it.

And then I went on an eight year long hiatus from the series until I decided to put on my big girl pants and pick up the series once again. At this point, I was 16 or 17 years old and most of my friends couldn’t believe I had never read all the Harry Potter books so the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I buckled down and read books two through four…but then I started the fifth book, The Order of the Phoenix and you can probably guess what happened next…

I didn’t finish it. I read about 150 pages and I was done. This time Harry’s teen angst and bitterness about every aspect of his situation (though I recognize that he had a lot to be bitter about) just about drove me bonkers. Let’s just say I was lucky to get to 150 pages.

Now, fast forward about four more years to Spring 2015. I’m not sure when exactly I decided to make it my Summer 2015 goal to finish the series, but it had something to do with my travel study. Once I got back from the United Kingdom, I started looking for ways to drag out the magic of the trip and the excitement of seeing what I had only seen on TV before. Naturally, I started watching a lot more BBC shows on Netflix and I decided that I would read the rest of the Harry Potter series this summer. And I did! So YAY for goals and international travel that inspire you to make goals!

In hindsight, this is a series I would definitely suggest especially if you’re a parent looking for a series that will grow with your child. The first few books are very much geared for elementary aged children. They’re more lighthearted and fun and Harry, Ron and Hermione seem to find themselves in the craziest predicaments. As the series goes on, J.K. Rowling does some amazing things with the writing and the overall story. With each book, the story grows just a little bit darker and the writing structure becomes more advanced and sophisticated. It’s also a fairly clean series with valuable life lessons woven into the narrative about genuine love and true strength.


Review: A History of London in 100 Places

My best friend Nicole always tells me that I am a master book recommender. I love reading and anyone who thrives off of the words of others like myself has read some amazing books…and then they’ve read some not so amazing ones. There’s nothing more disheartening then picking up a book expecting great things only to be tragically let done…sounds a bit like relationships, right? Well, any reader extraordinaire will tell you that reading a book is like making a new acquaintance or even stepping into a new life of your own. In any form of entertainment, there is a willing suspension of disbelief–it’s when you know what you’re seeing on the TV or big screen or reading from a book or e-reader is not real, but you let your imagination indulge in it anyway. We let ourselves become a part of the stories in a variety of ways from emotional investment to feeling like we are actually part of the story. That’s why we have fan fiction, book clubs, theme parks and crazed fans. As the audience of many stories, we will do anything to become more deeply embedded into a story.

By trial and error you find the good books and the bad books. You find what you like and don’t like in a book or genre. You also find what genres you like and don’t like.  You find the stories into which you are willing take that leap of faith. However, for those who don’t read that often or simply want to expand their reading palette, I always try to save those individuals the trouble, time and possibly money involved in this trial and error process of picking up a book that is sub-par or just straight up awful if we’re being honest.

This willing suspension of disbelief can be obtained in any genre in both the fiction and non-fiction realms. In general, people long to become a part of the stories of people, places, ideas, movements and times in history regardless of the truth behind it…and recently, I’ve taken a vested interest in non-fiction worlds.

One of the things I like to do when I go to new places is buy a book about it or that has something to do with it. I don’t always end up getting a book about the town, state or country I’m visiting, but I usually come away with a book regardless. Like I said in my last post, I brought seven books back from Europe. Is it a little over the top? Ehhhhh….maybe. Maybe not. You can decide for yourself, but one of the books I got is called A History of London in 100 Places by David Long.

A History of London in 100 Places

Since I’ve been to London now, I’ve allowed myself to indulge into the captivating and dark stories of this amazing city’s history. This find came from the British Museum and it only took me deeper into the annals of London. The title is self-explanatory: it’s about a 200 page book with one to two page synopses of historically significant landmarks in London. The book takes the reader two thousand years into the past to when it was a Roman town called Londinium all the way up to present day London. From this book, the reader almost gets the experience of a time lapse in word form as Long explains how each site shaped the landscape of London.

Overall, I loved the concept of this book! Long didn’t talk about the typical sites tourists would see when they go to London. When I first started reading A History of London, I expected there to be a lot about places like Elizabeth’s Tower (Big Ben), but that wasn’t the case. Long did mention these iconic locations, but most of the places he wrote about the average person has never heard of. From the historical perspective, I got more than I bargained for, but this book also came with some let downs. Most of these sites you almost can’t even see or visit. Since most of these places can’t be visited today (at least not easily), it was hard for me as a reader to wrap my mind around what Long was trying to say and it quiet honestly sucked some of the fun out of reading it. Though he did provide a map at the beginning showing the reader where these places where, I would have also liked more visual aids (a.k.a. pictures because who doesn’t like a good picture book).

Since I’m not a native Londoner, this book was a little bit difficult to grasp; however, I would definitely recommend this book if you are interested in London history. It’s a great place to start if you just want to know more about this great metropolitan city in general. Also, it’s a great substance read like most things non-fiction are.

If you want to buy A History of London in 100 Places you can go to Amazon or you can stop by the British Museum and pick up your copy while also seeing mummies, the Rosetta Stone and a ton of other super cool artifacts!


So…it’s been a while

Big Ben

So…it’s been a while, almost 10 months since my last post on this blog. Like most people, I got busy and a blog on a myriad of topics from public relations to Oklahoma to sports just didn’t seem feasible for a full-time college student with increasing responsibilities. Not to mention my inspiration was gone and my motivation was lacking. In short, I got bored.

Yes, I was incredibly busy this past school year but that was an empty excuse at best. In actuality, I had realized that the things I thought I was passionate about were not what really lit the spark within me and it took a trip half way across the world and a conversation with one of my roommates to realize what I really loved.

To start, traveling is either the master seductress or an incurable virus or the most powerful drug in the world but more likely a concoction of all three. Foreign and far away places call like the sirens in Greek mythology and once you step foot on a new continent or country, you are forever in the clutches of the travel bug. From the moment my virgin passport was stamped in London Heathrow just three weeks ago, I was done. She had me in her grasp and my desire for more only increased. It only made matters worse when the group I was with went to Paris so my passport received another stamp and I fell victim once again.

I said to someone when I came back to the United States that now that I had finally left my home country, i just wanted to get more stamps, see more places. I already can’t stop saying, “Next time I go to London…” There’s so much I didn’t do that I wish I had done. I wished I had gone there. I wished I had seen that. I wished I had done that. I wished I had more time.

But I’m not sure if I’m more addicted to London or to international traveling. Let’s just say, you know you have a problem when you haven’t watched Criminal Minds, your favorite show of all time, in over a month, but instead you look for British-made shows on Netflix and shows that are set in London to be more specific. Now that I’ve been to London, I will watch some of these shows just to see the places I have seen and the streets I have walked on. My roommate, Jill, said it’s like I’ve seen a famous person and I quite honestly feel like I have. I nearly fell out of my chair when I realized a scene from the first episode of Sherlock was in a park right next to the flat I stayed at when I was in London. I walked through that park nearly every day to get to the Russell Square Tube station, went to the cafe in that park multiple times during my stay, sat on the benches and the grass in that park and there it all was right before me on the screen of my iPad.

#1 thing I learned about myself: I love to travel…A LOT!

Next, while I was in London, falling in love with the city and traveling, I developed quite the reputation among the other students I was with. It’s nothing bad or scandalous or embarrassing or anything like that though some might be able to make a case for embarrassing. By the end of the trip, the students of the 2015 edition of the British Media Studies class could hold this truth to be self-evident that I am in fact a complete and utter…bookworm. The last night of the trip when we were all given silly awards (and though they were given all in good fun) the awards fit some like a glove and I most definitely fall into that category. Over the duration of the 18 day trip, I bought seven books: one in Paris, five in London and one in Bristol. The number would have been greater had I not shown some restraint.

Of course when I got home, I told Jill about this and then that set us off in to a very long conversation about books. At one point we started bringing out all the books from our bedrooms and showing them off like they were baseball cards. Yep, we’re cool. We know. Be jealous.

#2 thing I learned about myself: I love to read…A LOT!

Now, more about this conversation with my roommate Jill…like I said, it was long. It’s one of those conversations you have that really lasts the rest of the day because you keep talking about the topic of interest intermittently throughout the day. But the bulk of the conversation happened within a span of an hour and a half to two hours. While we were showing off our precious babies (a.k.a. books) in baseball card fashion, I was sure to point out the treasures I had imported from the UK. Needless to say (but I’m going to anyways), we nerded out. This lead to more conversation about more books and authors and we eventually discovered that we both loved writing and that we both wanted to be writers one day. Also, we both were smart enough to know that most writers do not make enough to sustain themselves so until we make it big I have my public relations and she has her elementary education.

#3 thing I learned about myself: I love to write…A LOT!

I still love Oklahoma, I still enjoy watching sports, and I still am interested in public relations, but put a cup of coffee in my hand (or a plane ticket to Europe; it’s really all the same) and start talking about travel, reading or writing, then you’ve tapped into what electrifies my mind and essentially gets me talking.

So I write all of this to say that this is why this blog looks completely different and from here on out you can expect completely different content. Get ready for an experimentation of writing styles of an almost schizophrenic nature, reviews of nearly every kind of book, and tales of travels made.