I have a confession (and quite a geeky one at that). Being away from my huge wooden bookshelf in the UK is proving to be quite a wrench. There's something so comforting about having all your books in order and knowing that you can revisit them at any time. It's no surprise then that they are the first things I unpack when I move to a new house! Well, this week I began to pine for my bookcase after spending an hour meandering round an Italian bookshop in search of new listening materials for my students. I came across several English books that had been translated into Italian but the most striking one was the Harry Potter series.
Here is a photo of the series as there are sold in Italy. The top row contains the first four Harry Potter books in paperback (the equivalent of the adult version in the UK) and the bottom row has the final books in hardback with the children's illustrations.
It's amazing the difference a cover can make to your perception of a book and your expectations before you read. For example, the UK version of The Half-Blood Prince gives you a brief snapshot of book's climax which keeps you guessing til the end while the Italian cover gives nothing away. Then of course, the third and fourth books just aren't the same with a flying hippogriff and a huge fire breathing dragon respectively. The Italian versions seem a little dull by comparison.
Maybe it's just that I reject anything unfamiliar. I mean, the Potter series and their colour-blocked spines are so recognizable on my bookshelf back in the UK (not least because it occupies nearly a whole shelf!) that they might as well be classed as furniture. And so, to restore the equilibrium and return the world to normal, here is the UK version for you to make your own judgement.
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If you love Harry Potter, you might also like to read:
A Who's Who of Funny Names in Italian Harry Potter
If you're a bit of a book worm, you might like this article about bookshelves and how we organise them.