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5 Ways to Prepare for J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy

5 Ways to Prepare for J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy

By Brandon Specktor

You've expressed your excitement, pondered the plot, and deconstructed the cover —BUT THE TIME FOR GAMES IS OVER, CHIPMUNKS. We're in the danger zone now. Why? Because J.K. Rowling's premiere post-Harry Potter novel, The Casual Vacancy, is due out ON THURSDAY.

As the end of the week lumbers awkwardly toward us like a constipated cave troll, you may find yourself atwitter with unanswered questions. What will The Casual Vacancy actually be about, and will it be good? How should I get ready for this global literary moment? How does a cave troll become constipated on a primarily moss-based diet?

We don't know. About the troll thing. But if you need some help charging your lit lazers for the impending release of CasVac, we have a few friendly pointers. Don't forget to come back here for the first session of our probably award-winning Casual Vacancy book club on Thursday afternoon, where we'll chat about the first two chapters. But in the meantime, here's five ways to get thyself pumped for the book:

1. Forget about Harry Potter

Easier blogged than done, we know, but do try to cast a quick avada kedavra on your expectations that J.K.'s new novel will have any correlation to the HP wizardverse. Thematically, sure, there may  be some similarities; knowing J.K. there's bound to be a few out-of-place teens among the populace of Pagford town who have to find creative methods of dealing with the bullcrap of their elders. But, as far as we can tell, it's gonna be an all-muggle cast. So sheath your wands, free your house elves, and trade in that flowy Hogwarts gown for a…weird, frilly bonnet thing (probably) because, this time, it's a Struggle For The Muggles™.

2. Train your eyeballs

According to that unassailable news source called Wikipedia, the narrative of CasVac will span exactly 512 pages. If you're like us, your eyeballs and brainmush probably haven't clocked in such a lengthy speed-read since confronting all 759 pages of Deathly Hallows a whole five frickin' years ago.

It's chill: you've got plenty of time to re-train those brains, Dumbledorks. Practice for your upcoming reading sprint by consuming 512 pages of text at least twice a day, every day, until Thursday. You can do this by reading 512 pages or, literally, balling them up and consuming them like crinkly little potato knishes (Google "kosher novels" if you're considering this method.) Try reading each of Sorcerer's Stone's 309 pages 1.65 times apiece (maybe just skip all the pronouns on your second go,) or perhaps read this post 512 times in a row. Golly, we'd be flattered if you did.  If all else fails, there's always the proven folk method of slamming your forehead into the open crevasse of your hardback and literally turning each page with your flickering eye sockets. Supposedly that's how Melville edited Moby Dick.

3. Earn $18

You can pre-order CasVac now for $17.99, but if you don't have the coin on-hand you've still got some time to earn it. Stroll on down to your local indie book trader and consider pawning your house's superfluous copies of the HP, LOTR, Twilight, or any other whimsical distractions from the parish of Pagford. Also consider selling your hair and kidneys.

**EDIT: Our fact-checkers just informed us that you actually need at least one functioning kidney to live. We must stress: DO NOT sell MORE THAN ONE of your kidneys. Shrewd negotiators should still be able to earn $18 for just the one.

4. Learn to love Tom Hollander's elegant drone

Unless you're a regular BBC viewer, you'll probably recognize CasVac's confirmed audiobook narrator as Lord Cutler Beckett from Pirates II/III, or poncey Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice. Tom Hollander has a gift for enunciation that is perfect to the point of creepiness, which should work out well in Rowling's tale of countryside consternation. Plus, if his role as "creepy Austrian track suit assassin guy"  from Hanna is any clue, TomHo has some voices up his puffy sleeves, too.

5. Throw an e-reader party

A few years ago it was expected—nay, mandatory—of any true Harry Potter fan to show up outside an area bookstore dressed as her favorite horcrux and stand there for 5 hours until the splendid toll of midnight ushered in the latest novel release. Now it's 2012. The horcruxes are long destroyed, and there are no bookstores.

Well, that's a lie. There's plenty of bookstores, but unfortunately most of them are trapped in our phones and tablet readers like so many Angry Birds. Don't let the digital revolution damper your pre-CasVac buzz: Throw a midnight e-reader fiesta instead! Dress up, gather your nerdiest friends 'round ye old Nook (or be super millennial about it and just Skype the whole party) and at the stroke of midnight regale in the synchronized clickage of that shiny green "download" button. It's not quite as exciting as an old-school book launch. But it's the closest thing we have to an IRL summoning charm, and reciting "Accio Casual Vacancy" while it magically manifests on your computer screen might be the last gasp of wizardry you'll get for a spell.

Are you getting stoked for The Casual Vacancy? Will you buy it in hardback or digital form? Have you ever sold a kidney to a cave troll? Discuss!

Topics: Books, Life
Tags: books, reading, book clubs, jk rowling, the casual vacancy

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About the Author
Brandon Specktor

For 22 years, Brandon was a fat kid living in Tucson, AZ, which gave him lots and lots of time to write. He now works at a magazine in New York City, but still loves writing almost as much as he loves muffins.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.