Tomorrow night, legions of Harry Potter fans will be gathering at bookstores all across the world to pick up the final installment of the series. If you haven't already preordered it on Amazon, or hunted down the digitally photographed pages of the leaked copy--tsk, tsk--your best bet is to exercise patience, or give in and pick it up with the throngs of other fans at one of the midnight release parties.
But where do you find ones worth going to? Short of browsing your local paper's A&E section, there are some handy tools online for either securing a copy in style, or finding something to do in the painful hours of waiting that lay ahead. Either way, you'd better batten down the hatches and read it in time to avoid the inevitable plot spoilers you'll hear at work or around the Web come Monday morning.
Potterparties.com offers a simple search by zip code to track down book release parties, complete with maps. I found the results to be a bit off, listing mostly Borders Book locations over local establishments. The site also features party descriptions, although those, too, were incomplete. The site's real draw is its recipes and games section, which gives you instructions on making such delicacies as jelly slugs, squid shooters, and troll toes. Delicious.
Scholastic, the publishers of the Potter series have their own party finder for retail locations hosting midnight soirees. The results don't show what's going on at each location, but they do list the start time so you don't show up too early. Like Potterparties, Scholastic has a smattering of Potter-themed activities, such as user forums, desktop wallpapers, a handful of games, and a countdown clock you can stare at.
Upcoming.org is one of the best resources for finding out the specifics of each Potter party. I found several different stores listed around my neighborhood, including times to get there, an attendee list, and store-specific information such as preorder discounts and parking tips.
Eventful.com has a surprisingly large number of listings for Harry Potter parties. Like Upcoming, it lists good things to know, like presale discounts, costumes, and activities to keep children busy and/or awake.