My Harry Habit


This fall I fell into audiobooks. Not just any audiobooks, but JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, narrated by the remarkably talented Jim Dale. I had read all the books multiple times and had listened to most of them before.  My children grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and Harry Potter audio books were a go-to book during long college road trips with my children. We were all devoted fans and knew we could easily fall under the Rowling spell while mile after mile slipped by unheeded.

So about 2 months ago, faced with a long solo drive, I picked up Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (one of my favorites), and popped it into the CD player.  I’ve been listening ever since.  Each day, as soon as I get in my car, I switch on the CD and pick off from wherever I’ve left off.  In an instant I’m whisked away to Hogwarts, the Burrow or to 4 Privet Drive. Over and over again, I am blown away by JK Rowling’s ability to create this world and to people it with such full-bodied vibrant characters. Even knowing the outcomes, I find myself once again gripping my seat and riding the emotional roller coaster.  I no longer listen to NPR in the car and have lost what little grasp I had on current events.  And I don’t miss it.  Instead, I look forward to my commute and I’ve actually begun inventing errands so that I can spend more time in my car.

imgresBut now that week after week after week has gone by and I’m listening to the sixth book,  I’ve started to wonder about this new habit. I recently came across the term “keystone habit”, coined, I believe, by Charles Duhigg.  He maintains that certain habits set off chain reactions of other habits, a cascade or domino effect.  Generally he emphasizes how creating a positive habit in your life makes it easier for other positive habits to fall into place.

So, is my audio habit a healthy habit or a reason for concern?  Is there such thing as a keystone habit for negative habits?   Like a gateway drug? Each day when I listen, am I getting a fix?  What is it about Harry Potter and that whole magical world that entices me away from NPR, the real world and my own worries and concerns? I’ve been known to avoid serious issues and confrontations and the general unpleasantness of reality. Is this a more creative and socially acceptable way for me to indulge my ostrich-like tendencies and bury my head in the sand?   B.H. (Before Harry), I used  car time to catch up on the news but also to wind down after a long day, to process, to work through ideas and thoughts in my  mind, to contemplate or to simply exist in solitude.  A.H. (After Harry), I simply push a button and drift away. Is this simply a healthy respite or is the effect more pernicious? I really don’t know.

And tonight as I get in my car and drive to class (looking forward to the bonus 90 minutes of listening time), the biggest question of all remains.  What  will I do after I finish listening to the 7th book?


8 thoughts on “My Harry Habit

  1. I LOVE the Harry Potter audiobooks! Honestly they ruined me for other audiobooks. Lol I got to hear Jim Dale speak at Blue Willow Book Shop in Houston,TX. He was awesome! He signed my 1st & last HP audiobooks. Good luck AHP (After Harry Potter).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. franmcveigh says:

    What a great habit and I love hearing about WHY folks “reread” when obviously no teacher is requiring a specific lens!!! LOL Can’t wait to hear what series you pick up next!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. shannonhorn1 says:

    I’ve never heard of keystone habits before; what an interesting concept. I think you should listen to your hearts content. The news is important, but if it detracts from your happiness (as the news tends to do) then why not indulge in a healthy habit? If you’re still concerned, why not compromise? Listen to the news for the first 10 minutes of drive time then indulge in Harry Potter!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mary Jo says:

    Haha! Omg, I have the same habit with audio books! I would actually look forward to my 45 a.m. commute to work. In Chicago. In winter. Because the night before my audio book was paused at thee best part. And recently, I listened to an entire YA novel (Vanishing Girls, Lauren Oliver) through a round trip visit for a girls weekend. So, I think an audio habit is pure enjoyment, and provides the benefit of reliving stories performed by professional actors.

    Liked by 1 person

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