How I Really Got into Harry Potter

October 2015
Polaris Black

I live in New York. We don’t have the world’s worst drivers, but they are far from the best. So it’s very easy to succumb to road rage. If you are fortunate enough never to have heard of the term, it means excessive anger caused by the reckless actions of an aggressive driver. It is exhausting and will ruin your day long after you leave your vehicle.

After I finished describing yet another exasperating driving experience, my dearest friend offered a solution. He handed me an audio book, The Killer Angels, about the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. “Not my first choice,” I thought as I placed the CD in the player. But since music wasn’t helping me to manage my anger, I was determined to give audiobooks a try.

It didn’t start off well. The book began with a list of soldiers' names being read with their “blue” or “grey” affiliation. I felt like someone was reading the phone book to me and my mind drifted so far away that I didn’t even realize when the actual story began. So I had to start over, but this time I gradually became more engaged.

My behavior changed radically. I purposely drove in the slow lane and even remained in the car after I reached my destination. What was even more remarkable was my complete attention returned to the road whenever conditions warranted it. As an added bonus, it turned out to be a really great book.

So it was a no-brainer that when my nephew and I agreed to read and discuss the Harry Potter series, I would do it in audio. I have to admit that I was less than intrigued at first and actually postponed listening to it. But a promise is a promise, and I picked it up again. Jim Dale is an extraordinary reader, and I became more invested with each auditory page. By the time I boarded the Hogwarts Express and learned that famous witches and wizards don’t hang around in their Chocolate Frog Cards all day, I was totally hooked.

The rest is history. Harry Potter turned out to be the best traveling companion ever. He kept me calm in dangerous driving conditions and patient while I was stuck in traffic. My pleasant disposition returned, and I couldn’t believe I actually liked to drive again. And the best part is, whenever I need to, I can listen to any of the books all over again.

Road rage - what’s that?