Ok—let me start off by explaining why it took me so long to read this book, as I realize that most people have either decided to read, or not read, the Harry Potter series by now. The books first came out when I was six years old (I guess you could do the math if you wanted to figure out my age). I remember Scholastic book fairs hyping up this new and exciting series. When it first came out, I was too young to be looking into chapter books. As I went through the grades in elementary school, more and more Harry Potter books came out and the popularity skyrocketed. In third or forth grade I picked up the Sorcerer’s Stone to see what the hype was all about. It was too complicated for me at the time and I just couldn’t get into it (too many crazy names and made-up words). I couldn’t seem to wrap my mind around this whole fantasy universe, so I stopped after a few chapters. I always had planned on picking the book back up when I got older, but by that point, the books were so popular that it seemed almost cliche to read them (and I was too cool in middle school for that…). By that point, all of the Harry Potter movies started coming out too. I got dragged into the hype and ended up watching all of the movies. I liked them, but I found it hard to follow once it got to the fourth movie. I just felt that there were some important pieces that I either missed or never really caught onto. I didn’t understand why it was such a huge phenomenon. I guess I just never felt invested in the series.
Fast forward to 2015 when almost everyone and their grandmothers have read all of the Harry Potter books. I am in a graduate school class about folklore in children’s literature, and there’s a list of books to choose from for the semester. The Harry Potter books were an option under the “Physiological Roots” category, and I figured there was no better time to pick up the book gathering dust on my book shelf for the last fifteen years. As I started reading it, I immediately regretted watching the movies first. I usually will delay watching a movie if it has a book counterpart, because the movie is never as good as the book and I want to read the book first. While reading, even though I knew what was going to happen next, I found that I couldn’t put the book down. I felt as though I got to know all of the main characters in a whole new way. The book highlights certain nuances in characters that you just don’t get from a movie. I felt as though I could picture Hogwarts and the Forbidden Forest and even the plump and annoying Dursley family (though I’m sure that seeing the movie first skewed my mental pictures). I found myself really appreciating the story and catching on to subtleties in the plot that I never realized in the movies. I see now why so many people fell in love with this series, and I am already planning on reading the rest of the books.
I don’t think this book requires a summary from me since most people already have a general idea of what it’s about (wizards and magic and you-know-who). To all the people out there who have already seen the movies and think that they don’t need to books: you still need to read them. These books will reignite a part of your childhood that you somehow missed out on. You’ll get thrown into this magical world that you wish you could visit. I found myself relating to these characters and feeling a connection with them (obviously I’m the Hermione in my group of friends). I am now invested in their lives and stories and have become a part of this cult classic. This is a book that I could see reading with my future children before bed so that they can dream of a magical world (as long as they don’t have nightmares easily, of course).
Let me know your opinions of this book, whether this is your first or hundredth time reading it!