Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

How did you come across the book?

So… I’m an avid movie watcher and a good friend of mine, Amy, put me into the movies years ago. At first I was like, “No, I’m not watching this cause I don’t want to be a part of the system! And everybody’s obsessed with these things!” And then I sat down and I watched them… and I was obsessed! The movies captivated me but I’m not a big fiction reader… I read history, but I’m not a big fiction reader… but um… my wife has been bugging me, “Babe, come on… like every year I’m like babe it’s time for us to do our Harry Potter binge!”… and we watch all the movies again… and she’s like, “You’ve gotta read the books!” So… at first I was like, “You know babe? You know me… I struggle when I read fiction books… like, I’m good.” So she said, “Fine, I’ll buy you the audio book.” And so she gave me the audio book of the first one, and I listened to it… and it was incredible. I couldn’t stop listening to it! So then I was like, “Babe… I think I want to read the second set of books.” So she bought the collection… and I read book two in about a week and a half… and I’ve just been storming through book three! This one’s my favorite movie… and now it’s my favorite book! This is…. this is incredible! The symbolism in it… you know, the story in general has captivated me on a whole different level… that’s why I said you picked the wrong person to interview ’cause I have this like deep Harry Potter theology about my life and… Prisoner of Azkaban really embodies, you know, that selflessness and that… living for others… the thing that I’ve always loved about the series in general!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Oooh! So… I was just telling him… there is, you know… the interesting thing about Harry Potter… and if you know about the story of Harry Potter… you know, he’s this kid and he’s born in one world but his parents were killed, so he had to be raised in another world… and later on he goes back to this other world and… some reject him, some accept him, some glorify him, some… you know… hate him… and it’s this… this thing where he has the weight of the world on his shoulders and he is literally just existing as a kid… growing up and learning. I realized, for me… it doesn’t matter what your destiny is, it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what your background is, what your future holds… you know... grow, and just live! Take the shackles off yourself and be free! Click To Tweet For me, it hits a little closer to home because as a Christian I look at… I’m like man, Jesus came to this earth and he died to give his life to us for our sins, and I’m like… here’s this kid who came to a world… they didn’t receive him in it… ultimately in the end there’s this correlation to that, and I don’t want to give any spoiler alerts, but… if you haven’t seen it, check it out… but if you know it, you know he ends up giving up a lot of himself for this world and it becomes this beautiful story of love and no matter what… in this story particularly, he has so much anger towards this one character, then in the end, ends up forgiving him and showing grace to him… and it’s so amazing because… he’s just a kid. You know, I’m like, if this kid can embody this kind of love and this kind of passion for life, then… so can I. That means everyday, live it to the fullest… everyday be free… everyday take the shackles off myself, the shackles that people have put on me… my parents have put on me, my friends have put on me, teachers put on you, educators put on you… and, whatever people put on you, it is to your best interest if you just… take them off, and just be you. Be Harry Potter, be free in your little world, learn what you got to learn… and if people say you’re not good enough, whatever… you know, just live free man… be free for who you are. There’s too much beauty in this world to live it beneath shackles and chains. So… that’s what I got from this.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Umm… oddly enough… I’d recommend this book to everybody and anybody! You know, for kids, it is an imagination roller-coaster! Like, this woman… and even when you know her story of how she wrote it, you start to realize that the woman who wrote this, J.K. Rowling… she’s a conqueror; she fought against so much just to get to a place where she could produce these magical books. And then, so much more as a Christian… you know, I know people who are like, “Ah, no! It’s witchcraft… you shouldn’t read it.” And then I realized one of the greatest authors in my opinion… C.S. Lewis… penned one of the greatest fiction stories… The Chronicles of Narnia… and if you ever get a chance to read those book’s, which I did go back and read… they are an incredible adaptation of what it means to really just… believe! The problem with the day we live in now is, we stop believing. Everything has to be tangible before we believe, and I’m sorry man, like… I want to go back and believe in the mysticism, and believe in the magic, believe in the force of love… the beauty of what magic does and how it makes us feel… I want to believe and I don’t ever want to lose that, and I don’t ever want to lose my imagination, because… what I’m noticing is that the reason why the world looks the way it does is because people stopped having imagination…. people stopped believing for more. Books like this man, they open kids up to the world; to see and to be like… Man, the flick of a wand could create this! And I'm like, Yes! Go out and imagine. Click To Tweet You don’t have a wand, but you have a computer… and you might not have a wand, but you can build something… and go and stretch your imagination… and I don’t care if somebody tells you that you can’t fly; jeez louise… you can fly! Somebody tells you, “You can’t walk on water.” Give it a chance… you might walk on water! People will tell you so much… and I look at it and I’m like… somebody told me one day, “Naj, you will never teleport.” And I was like, “That’s my lifelong dream, to one day teleport.” They kept saying you will never teleport, and I’m like, “Cool… because somebody told somebody they’d never fly… and now look at us… we’re flying!” The minute I stop believing that I’ll teleport… that’s when that dream is dead, and that’s when I will never teleport. And trust me, it sounds silly… look, I’m 36 years old… I’m not actually sitting out here saying, “Yeah, jump off a building and fly!” I’m not talking about being irrational or irresponsible; I’m talking about… just dream! Dream big man! Dream that this world will stop living based on the colors of our souls, thinking that it’s just black or white… no man… dream one day! Look at Martin Luther King… he had a dream, and that dream turned into a reality! We’re still fighting for it, but… that was a dream, and somebody told him lunacy, somebody told him it was magic, that it was imagination… and I just… it’s when we give up on those dreams, when we give up on changing the world, that’s when the world stops changing…and that’s it. I recommend it to everybody and anybody. The thing is... just have your eyes open! Click To TweetLike me… I wrote this book off when it was a movie because I was like, “Witchcraft, Witchcraft, Witchcraft!”… until a friend of mine was like, “Nah, it’s chill. Check it out!” Stop living with your eyes closed, you know… you never know… you’re rejecting stuff for rejecting stuff sake… accept stuff and then sift through it and realize if you don’t want to spit it to somebody else, or if you don’t think you should even eat it… spit it out, you know… put it to the side. But yeah… there’s so much more about it man!

Howl’s Moving Castle

How did you come across the book?

You know what? I’m a big Miyazaki fan… I don’t know if you’re familiar with him or not. He is an animator and makes movies… and he turned this one into a movie a while back. But… I’ve seen the movie a couple times, and you know what?… It just… it was literally face up on a table in a bookstore labeled “Your Next Favorite Book“… and I had just finished reading something else, so I was like, “yeah, alright, I’ll give that a shot… why not?” I’ve always dug the movie so I guess I’ll give the book a try.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Oh man! Perspective I have gained from the book? Umm… I mean… perspective. Well, ok… so listen this book is about magic and how magic works… and, I think more than perspective what this one has done is actually really confirm a lot of things that are going on in my life. You know... every once in awhile you pick up a book that you just needed to pick up... Click To Tweet …and it sort of starts talking to you, and through the book you start having a conversation with yourself about what you’re up to… and so this book is about magic. It’s about how most magic is rooted in belief, cause I mean like… duh! Most magic is… if you want to think of prayer as magic, then you know, that’s how it works… faith. And also, the main character in this is sort of trying to reconcile where he’s from, where he’s going, what he’s doing… all from the same place. So… I guess it’s just got me really thinking about who I am and where I am and where I’m heading and what I’m doing…. if that makes sense.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh, so far so good… yeah! If you’re a fan of fantasy… it’s definitely YA fantasy… and then it’s like there’s some coming of age elements in it. One of the main characters is someone who is sort of figuring out how powerful she is… and in her particular society, they have always told her that… so she’s the oldest of three sisters and the caveat in their society is the oldest of three sisters will never amount to anything. And so, one day she sort of accidentally goes off to seek her fortune and continues to find out more and more how powerful she actually is… and how much she can get done. So, I think I would recommend it to anyone who's a little lost... Click To Tweet anyone who knows that they belief in some things but isn’t quite sure why… and really anybody who wants just to take a trip… I mean… it is a trip! It is just a really, really great world. It’s so hard, I mean… this book is fairly old but it’s so difficult now that fantasy has become so mainstream to happen upon  a world that feels different than Hogwarts or Middle Earth… and it’s really nice and refreshing to be sort of bamfing in and out of… and also one of the fantasy worlds is rooted in our own reality which I always really enjoyed how Hogwarts does as well… I guess Middle Earth does as well…you’ve gotta die and sail across the seas to us… but uh, yeah… so I guess really, anybody who wants to sort of expand their horizons… pick it up and give it a read. I do not read quickly and I am crushing this!