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Decoding the Decade: Books

The Book of the Decade Add to ...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final instalment in J.K. Rowling's wizardly bildungsroman, is Globe Books' choice as Book of the Decade. Not only was it the single most awaited, debated and anticipated volume, it also can stand for Harry Potter as a phenomenon, for a series that grows more sophisticated and darker with each episode, a series in which millions of people fret over the fates of the beloved young wizard, his pals and mentors as they battle the forces of evil marshalled by Lord Voldemort.

Deathly Hallows is not our Book of the Decade based solely on its literary merits (although these are not inconsiderable: style, often undistinguished; imagined world, magical), but rather on the entire series' domination of the public realm as perhaps no other series of books before it.

Take sales: In the first 24 hours of its release on July 21, 2007, the novel sold a mind-boggling 15 million copies in 93 countries.

Take interest: In the build-up to the release, the public was abuzz with speculation about which major character Rowling was about to kill off, about the resolution of various romantic entanglements, about the fate of Hogwarts, the wizards' academy so many of us devoutly wish we could have gone to. An entire legal school was devoted to preventing the leaking of such information. On the eve of release, bookstores around the world held, as they had in the past, Harry Potter parties.

Take effect: Millions of children, especially boys, for whom reading had been something remote, intimidating, uninteresting, took to Potter as a wizard to a wand. You couldn't walk through a mall, an airport, a park without seeing one or another of the series in the hands of a young person. And not young people alone; adults devoured the books as well (when they didn't accuse them of promoting witchcraft). The Harry Potter books may have created a generation of readers, and, if we're lucky, it may not be the last such generation.

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