Harry Potter in the Holy Land.

Buying the newest copy of Harry Potter is just not the same in Israel. In America, the book stores were buzzing with customers chatting to each other on long lines… Everyone was filled with delicious, fluffy hype, the kind that I guess is only available in the capitalist of capitalist societies.

The two book stores I entered in the Jerusalem mall hosted minimal lines, though Steimatsky did have a section in the back set up with a clerk dressed in a witch’s hat giving me my copy.

Granted, the Hebrew version of the book doesn’t come out until December; I watched a dismayed teenager learn this news at Tzomat Sfraim, the second book store.

Then I was the first on the bus leaving from the mall. See, on a Saturday night, Harry Potter release or not, everyone is definitely going to the mall, not from it to begin zealous reading.

As I got on, the bus driver knowingly smiled.

Driver: “I know what’s in those bags.”

Me: “Ha… Definitely.”

Driver: “I don’t get it. What’s the big deal about a book?”

Me: “Well… Look at it this way: The author is now a billionaire… Something’s gotta be right about them.”

Driver: “Yeah, the author’s a billionaire… So what? What’s so great about the books?”

Me: “It’s… fantasy…”

Driver: “Fantasy. So what?”

Me: “Everyone needs a little fantasy… Don’t you think?”