Friday, July 31, 2015

A Very Harry Potter Appreciation Story

Today is a very special day for the oh-so-many Potterheads in the book community as it marks Harry Potter's thirty-fifth birthday. But that's not all! If you're a huge fan, you already know that Miss Rowling gave Harry her own birthday. To honor both Harry and Jo, I'm finally giving the Harry Potter series a post of its own on The Hardcover Lover.

This may come to a surprise to some of my readers, but Harry Potter wasn't always there for me like it was for many people my age. My classmates started reading the books when they came out, but I didn't. I tried, but I just never got into the first book, so I decided against reading them at the time. Sixth grade me was a little preoccupied with other books. I kept promising myself that I'd read them in junior high. Then I promised myself that I'd read them in high school. It never happened.

In fact, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, didn't come into my life completely until after I graduated college. That's over ten years after I first started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. But today, the Harry Potter books are my favorites, and so I thought I'd take today to honor Harry and Jo's birthdays by sharing the story of how the series came into and changed my life.

Trying to Read Harry Potter as a Kid

I've already told you that I attempted reading the books as a kid, but I failed. However, I do think that reading the books for the first time as an adult made them a bit more magical for me. Remember how I told you that I started reading the first book when I was a kid? I was in the sixth grade, and to me, it just seemed too unrealistic for me to like. 

I was a stubborn kid, and I think that the magical elements were working against me at that age. I'd found out that Santa wasn't real just a few years before (or maybe it was the year before... I remember being in the later years of elementary school). From there I figured out that none of the other magical childhood beings were real either. So reading about witches and wizards just felt off to me. I felt like it would just be a disappointment, especially considering that I'd know all along that none of it could ever happen.

Reading Harry Potter as an Adult

Attempting the books again as an adult was a completely different story. Upon beginning the books, I was immediately immersed in Harry's story. It was (pun intended) a very magical experience for me, especially with my life in turmoil. I was glad to have finally made my way back to the books because they became a game-changer for me. Those seven books changed my life in a way that words cannot even express. 

At the time, I was twenty-three, a college graduate with very little hope of finding a job (spoiler alert... I still don't have a full-time job in my profession), and to be honest, I was terribly depressed. My outlook on life was pretty much hopeless. I spent my afternoons working at a preschool's after school program, and I spent my weekends working at a pizza shop. It was terrible. The books took me away from reality, and they were the better than any doctor-prescribed medication.

Reading the books was like coming home to a place that I never knew existed. I finally had my degree to teach English, and it was like completing a quest. (Because seriously... what English teacher hasn't read the Harry Potter books?) I devoured the books, staying up until all hours of the night and then into the next morning to finish them. I now know that Hogwarts is the home I needed, and to be honest, I do regret not reading them as a child and teenager.

The reading experience I had with Harry Potter was close to perfect. I was able to binge read all of the books during the same month, so I never had to wait a year for another book like so many of my peers did. All of the answers to my questions were waiting for me. All I had to do was grab the next book and start reading. 

Now what Harry Potter reading binge wouldn't be complete without a movie binge, right? After I read all seven books, I stole the movies from my mother and I watched them. I compared and contrasted. I formed my own opinions, and to this day, I love those movies. I bought my own copies so that I'd never have to steal from my mother again. Seriously... think Molly Weasley's Howler...

Life After Harry Potter

Life after reading Harry Potter is much better. I've found out that I was a Gryffindor, and I attribute that to the fact that I quit both of my terrible jobs (the preschool and the pizza shop) within a few months of each other. I still don't have a full-time job (I'm substitute teaching and working as a cashier on weekends), and life isn't perfect. But you know what... Harry's wasn't either. We all know that.

I take each day as it comes. I smile. I cry. I scream. I laugh. But most of all, I live because the work of one author really can change someone's life for the better.

So thank you, Jo. Thank you for creating Harry, Ron, and Hermione and the magical world in which they live. Thank you for Professor Dumbledore. Thank you for Professor Snape. Thank you for creating such realistic and wonderful characters. Thank you for creating the evil characters who I love to hate. Thank you for those seven books that I never knew would change me.

Thank you, Jo, for extending my childhood for just a bit after college. Reading the books was the best thing that every happened to me. But most of all, thank you for showing me that the unbelievable is the best magic of all.

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