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READING FAILS: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, English, and unexpected deaths

Reading Fails: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Today in Reading Fails, let me explain to you how I managed to read The Half-Blood Prince and not understand what was going on in the end. Yes, that little death in the end. This is a wild ride.

Let’s have some context here: I am French from France speaking French (duh). I learnt English in high school and, although I am bilingual now, the French school system is clearly lacking when it comes to learning languages and so little teenager me wasn’t as good with English as I am today. Still, I didn’t let it deter me. I watched a lot of shows and movies in English, I listened to a lot of music in English, and I even tried my hand at reading the news in English.

Until I decided to take it one step further and to start reading in English, too.

Let’s have more context here: the year is 2005 and The Half-Blood Prince is about to take over the world like a storm. My friends and I had some kind of competition going on, to see who could read the new books as fast as possible. Even if it meant pulling an all-nighter despite your mother banning flashlights in your bedroom. (Personal record: Deathly Hallows in a day and a half, during a school week.) The first one to finish the book had the rights to gloat about it and to snicker about the others’ theories as they kept reading. No spoilers allowed.

READING FAILS: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, English, and unexpected deaths

Since I have a problem with winning, I decided that I would read The Half-Blood Prince in English. It came out in July, after all, and I didn’t want to wait until October to read the French version. And I was so totally winning that thing.

I convinced my mom to buy the book on the day of its release, and she even printed me a nifty bilingual lexical so I could understand all the magical terms. (Muggles are No-Majs in the USA, and Moldus in France, did you know?) I was excited, and overwhelmed, and I happily spent two weeks of my summer slowly going through my first book in English! How exciting! It was a bit confusing at first, and there were a lot of words I didn’t know, but I was doing fine. I could understand most of what was going on, which was fine by me.

And then, comes October and the French version.

Which, of course I read it too. This girl isn’t an amateur, not when it comes to Harry Potter. And I still wanted to beat my friends at our reading game. So I cracked open the book, and got to reading. And reading. And reading.


You got it right, folks. I managed to read an entire book without even understanding the biggest spoiler of all.Not even in a “wait, where’s Finnick?!” and furiously going back a few pages as you stare at the words in horror. No, no, definitely 100% clueless. How I made it through the funeral scene without it making sense, I’ll never know. But this is the story of a girl whose English was so bad she didn’t get the main point of The Half-Blood Prince.

And that, my friends, was one of my most epic reading fails of all times.

What is your biggest reading fail of all times?

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