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Arts and Entertainment

Harry Potter Madness and You

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Harry Potter is a touchy subject these days. The books have been around for so long, that kids who once loved Harry Potter are growing increasingly embarassed by that fact and now distance themselves from the teen magician. Still older kids -- like, say, ADULTS -- have followed every book with a frenzy and will no doubt join in this week's madness as Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows hits stores all over LA. Then there's the whole drama over leaked pages, the perfectly timed movie premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the will Harry die/won't Harry die debates raging on message boards and so on. There's even a crazy woman who has incoroprated the new book into her wedding plans! Ugh - it's all a bit nuts.

There are some crazy shindigs planned. Carnivals. Festivals. All-night readings. Pajama parties. Those who attend these events go nutso - in full costume, carrying every Harry Potter book ever written, speaking in coded words that only other Harry Potter devotees would understand. It baffles us. It confuses us. We don't get it.

There is also the looming question, as anyone on the fringes of Harry Potter madness must wonder: is this really the last book? Or is this going to be like Michael Jordan quitting basketball? Like the musical RENT "ending" its tour? The "last" Jay-Z album? In short, is this all a big ploy to create mad sales while J.K. Rowling is already writing book eight, nine and ten, to be released years from now just as the Harry Potter crowd begins to miss it? We wonder.

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But the philisophical angle of Harry Potter-dom gets us nowhere and isn't as pressing as the far more practical angle: how the hell to navigate the city's bookstores this week if you either want to participate in the frenzy or want to avoid it altogether?

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Here's a rundown of the Harry Potter events in LA this week that take place at usually-sane bookstores -- visit at your own peril:

Book Soup -- Harry Potter Release Party starts on Friday at 10pm with the book available for pickup at midnight.

Skylight Books - HP7 (that's Harry Potter book #7 to you) Party starts Friday at 10pm and runs until midnight, after which there will be an all night reading party. Planned activites: Self-Sorting Stations (something to do with Hogwarts house), Book 7 Predictions Covers, Wand-making, Group Trivia Activites, Open Mike prediction-sharing and a Severus Snape Debate.

Vroman's -- The Harry Potter Midnight Release Party festivities begin at 10pm on Friday and go until midnight. Planned activities: Live music from Wild Youth and Dirty Spanglish, Storytelling, Fortune-telling, Face Painting, Harry Potter craftmaking, Potter Trivia Booth and live graffiti wall. If you're just too busy to make it to the festivities at night, Vroman's also has Saturday Harry Potter plans: from 9am - 11am, young readers can enjoy a presentation with live animals, a magic show, a trivia game and a Hogwarts jelly bean count.

Dutton's -- The Muggles and Wizards Potter Party begins at 11pm. Attendees are encouraged to dress as their favorite character to pick-up your book at the stroke of midnight. Planned activities: Bertie Bott bean guess, Harry Potter snacks. games, trivia and other madness we can only guess at.

Borders -- Borders locations around LA will be hosting The Grand Hallows Ball beginning at 9:30pm on Friday. Planned activites: Wizardly activities, fantastical games and stupendeous giveaways as you wait with bated breath for your copy of Book 7.

Barnes & Noble -- B&N stores all over town are hosting Midnight Magic parties. We're sure The Grove will be particularly insane. Planned activites: Photos with Harry Potter and Hagird look alikes, Harry Potter costume contest, Jellybean Counting Contest and live music.

The LA Times has a complete listingof Harry Potter events including children's bookstores and the like.

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For a saner approach to book enjoyment, check out our Summer Guide to Bookish LA to find some great bookstores that will help you steer clear of all things Hogwart-y and magician-y.

Photo by Malingering via Flickr