Harry Potter is having a bit of a resurgence in my life right now. Actually, he seems to be having a bit of a resurgence in general. Myself and two of my friends all decided within the last few months, completely independently, to re-read the entire series. Truth: I’ve done this several times since reading the first book when I was 11.
They never get old to me. They’re as enjoyable on the 10th read as they were on the 2nd (but let’s face it, NOTHING compares to the first read through of any book, let alone a series as universally beloved as Harry Potter). I watch the movies regularly as well. ABC Family makes it easy because they have Harry Potter marathons pretty much every weekend (and they air deleted scenes, you guys!). I have a Pottermore account, which goes largely unused until recently, when J.K. Rowling posted new material about where our favorite Hogwarts alums are now in the form of a Rita Skeeter article that was supposed to be focusing on the Quidditch World Cup, which took place this year (spoiler alert, Bulgaria won, with Krum out of retirement as seeker!).
I’m sure there are lots of articles and blog posts ruminating on why Harry Potter has such staying power, why the series is loved by children and adults alike, so I won’t go into that here. But I will talk a bit about why I think Harry Potter still means so much to me.
I grew up with Harry and the gang. The first book came out when I was 11, the same age Harry was in the first book. I remember very clearly sitting in my living room and my dad handing me this book he said he had read about in the newspaper. At this point I was old enough to think that whatever my dad thought might be “cool” probably wasn’t at all and I was also not yet old enough to think anyone could find anything of interest in a newspaper.
I didn’t want to read it. I started reading it anyway. And I was immediately hooked. What 11-year-old doesn’t dream that perhaps they are really a prince or princess or maybe they were switched at birth their rich, famous parents could show up any minute to whisk them away into a life of luxury? (Still waiting on that, actually.) Point being, the idea that poor Harry had a half-giant show up and tell him “Hey, you’re a wizard and you can do magic and you’re going to come with me and live in this magical world and have an owl for a pet” was extremely appealing. HOW COOL.
I then spent the next ten years of my life beholden to the publishing schedule of these books. I waited YEARS between some of the last ones. I went to midnight book releases. Then, they started making them into movies. This wonderful, magical, imaginative world that I was so enamored with was being brought to life. I stood in line for midnight showings (but I did not dress up. I had to draw the line somewhere). And don’t even get me started on Harry Potter World in Florida. (I DID wear Gryffindor colors for that visit…)
And then, when I turned 21, it all ended. Coincidentally, I suppose you could say the books ended when my childhood did. (When you can go to a bar and legally order a [butter]beer that basically means you’re an adult, right?) It was the weirdest feeling. Like someone died. NO more Harry? But…what? That’s probably when I decided to re-read the books for the first time.
They’re always there for me. The books are kind of like a security blanket for me. Nothing to read? It’s ok, all seven books are on my Kindle and I can read them whenever I want, complete with my favorite lines highlighted. I also have all eight movies on DVD, in case it’s a rainy weekend and for some weird reason they’re not on ABC Family. I have the Harry Potter theme music on my phone, as both a ringtone and the actual song, just in case I need a touch of magic during my morning commute.
I have all these things, and I enjoy them, because they take me back to when I was 11 and finding Harry for the first time. Nothing can compare to the original time you read a book, but every time I start the Sorcerer’s Stone (“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much”) it takes me back a little bit.
When life is rough or in some kind of flux, I turn to Harry. Because he doesn’t change. He always makes it out okay in the end. And whatever is going wrong in my life at the time prroobbably isn’t as bad as an evil wizard constantly trying to kill you. Perspective.
They stand the test of time. There’s nothing in these books that dates them. No pop culture references to make it obvious when they were written. The stories themselves never seem trite or immature, even reading them as an adult. They were enjoyed by people of all ages when they were originally published, and I don’t see that changing.
I can’t wait to read them to my children someday and share the magic with them. I can only imagine that the next best thing to being able to read them for the first time again is getting to see a child experience them for the first time. Lord help me if my kids don’t like Harry Potter. I”m sending them back.
I don’t know how J.K. Rowling managed to create this amazing global phenomenon. I mean, she jotted down the original idea on a napkin, and it somehow grew into what it is. Still, nearly 20 years later, Harry Potter is A Thing. Rowling is still giving us some original material via Pottermore. They’ve just expanded The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. It truly is magical.
So obviously, J.K. Rowling is a witch.