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Comment from the book world in July 2022

July 2022

A book 'puts no pressure on its reader to perform or conform'

25 July 2022

‘How many times was I asked while still writing it: "What makes Harry Potter so popular?" I never had a good answer. It has occurred to me since that much of what young people found in the Potter books are the very same things they seek online: escape, excitement and agency. The Potter books also describe a community that sees and embraces what others might see as oddities. Who doesn't want that? How much more "seen" can a person feel, than to be told "you're a wizard"? But the great thing about a book as opposed to a social media platform is that it puts no pressure on its reader to perform or conform. Like a friendly common room, it's there to retreat to, but it doesn't judge. It makes no crushing demands.'

J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the Cormorant Strike series,  in the Sunday Times Culture.

'The tactic of a secret bully'

13 July 2022

'In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It's an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its aggressiveness all you want with veils of subordinate clauses and qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions-with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating - but there's no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer's sensibility on the reader's most private space.'

Joan Didion, author of 19 books including The Year of Magical thinking, Slouching towards Bethlehem, Play It As It Lays and The Panic in Needle Park.