This month I decided to re-read Harry Potter. While he isn’t single-handedly responsible for my love of reading, he is responsible for my extreme case of “book snobbery.” Normally I’m consumed by the desire to read every book ever written, and feel that re-reading is a giant waste of precious time. But when a friend offered to share her Harry Potter eBook collection with me I couldn’t resist. My obsession with Harry Potter did not end at 17 and probably will not end at 70, if ever. Finally I had found a way to read Harry Potter without having to compromise the integrity of my precious hardcovers that hold so much importance to me… Those of you who are passionate about books will understand.
I met Harry Potter when I was 9. He had, of course, just turned 11. I had just finished my first day at my new school, in a new town, in a different state, and my mom offered to buy me a new book as a special treat. Even then I was obsessed with books about magic, and I especially loved books that took place in some sort of castle setting (my preferences haven’t really changed). There, in the middle of the children’s section, was a large display stacked with copies of the Sorcerer’s Stone. And that’s all it took, after that I only had eyes for Harry.
I grew up with Harry Potter. We were always roughly the same age, we often spent our summers together, and he never forgot my birthday. (The books were usually released within a week or two of my birthday, which is at the end of July, although it turns out I am not the chosen one, and I would spend the entire summer reading and re-reading the newest installment). Before each book was released I would re-read the entire series until I had read Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets so many times I could almost recite them by heart. The final book was released in the summer of 2007, I had just graduated high school and looked forward to, not the beginning of my life as a graduate, but the end of the saga I had started 10 years earlier. I read Deathly Hallows only once. And then, after a decade of reading, I put Harry Potter down for more than 5 years.*
*During this hiatus I did, of course, attended every midnight premier of each movie installment.
Stepping back into the world of Harry Potter was like visiting my home town. It was comfortable and reminiscent and I tried my hardest to spend as much time there as I could. I read for hours every night before bed and had dreams filled with Harry Potter. I read on my breaks at work in attempt to escape this world, if only for an hour. When I finally finished the last book (last night around 3am) I was devastated. I felt alone. I felt the same way I had felt 5 years ago upon finishing the final chapter of Harry Potter. There is no more. It’s over. I was so swept up in that magical world that I wasn’t ready to come back. I had to talk to someone about Harry Potter, I had to let someone know what I had just experienced! Ron? I whispered into the dark, Hermione? Anyone? Ok, that’s a little dramatic, but still, there was no one I could text or call (at 3am) so I made a hasty post to facebook and resisted the urge to blog until morning. And now here I am, not in London, not at Hogwarts, and wishing with all my might that I could be.
I won’t drone on about how Harry Potter taught me about friendship and bravery… we’ve all heard that before. More than anything he taught me that magic can be anywhere, hiding just behind a brick wall, or beneath a broken down phone booth. When I was 9, having just finished Sorcerer’s Stone, I wrote in my diary (which was filled with all the thoughts and musings my 9-year-old self deemed important) that I believed in Hogwarts and hoped that that belief was enough to earn me an admittance letter when I turned 11. Years later, right around the golden age of 13, my friends and I discovered that diary and were having a delightful time reading from it. Well, they were, I was mortified. They mocked my 9-year-old self for believing in magic, not realizing that my 13-year-old self still did and was under the impression that my Hogwarts letter was just taking a little longer to get to me as the owl had to fly overseas.
…My letter is now 12 years late, I must remember to write to Hogwarts and get that sorted out. I’ve heard there are wizards in the post office to take care of that sort of thing…
But the greatest thing about Harry Potter, in my opinion, is not the incredibly realistic world (which is so incredibly realistic that it MUST be real), nor the amazing feats of friendship and bravery. It’s the characters, and the fact that they can make mistakes. They are not perfect; not even Dumbledore, not even Harry. They are not always what they seem; not his friends, or his enemies. Their emotions are real and, at times, completely illogical. They tend to cause problems as often as they solve them. Ties are severed, people die.
Though they are magic, they are only human. Proving once again that magic can be in anyone, anywhere.
They say that a really good book should be read as a child, again as an adult, and again in old age. This is the first time I’ve read the series knowing how it ends and my first time reading the series as a 20-something adult. I was constantly struck by the actions and emotions of the characters. I felt I had a much deeper understanding of the series than I ever did in the past 15 years, despite the fact that I read them over and over. The books grew with me, the characters developed as I did. I can understand now the things I could not understand as a teenager. Why is Harry acting like that? How could Dumbledore do such a thing? Because they are human. They grow, and change, and make mistakes. They succumb to human desire and illogical emotions, and that’s what makes them great.
I look forward to reading it again in a few years time. I feel I have gained a new perspective on life. As cheesy as that sounds.
Having only read it once I was eagerly anticipating my second read through of the last book. I was no less shocked than I was the first time around. I had to keep reminding myself to slow down, to read every word. These books were either incredibly well planned out, or J.K. Rowling was incredibly lucky that all the pieces of this intricate puzzle came together so perfectly. I am still, as I was before, in awe of the ending. I am biased to love Harry Potter, I am emotionally attached and my views have been emotionally compromised. However, if this had been my first time reading his saga, I don’t think I would have been any less impressed, touched, swept away, and dazzled than I was the first time I picked up the Sorcerer’s Stone or put down the Deathly Hallows.
Harry Potter will live forever.
5 thoughts on “The Boy Who Lived… Forever.”
Indeed. HP has very relatable and true characters.
I have been re-reading the books over and over again since they came out when I was 11 (I’m 25), and have read Sorcerer’s Stone so many times over that the binding is broken and the pages fall out. Harry Potter has changed my life!
It seems so cheesy to think that a book series can literally change your life but in this case it’s so true! Harry Potter fans are the best kinds of people.
I have read the harry potter series 10 times. I am only 12 years old. I think I might just reach one hundred before I die.
I think that sounds like a great plan!