Why Everyone Should Read J.K. Rowling’s Masterpieces: The Story of a 19-Year-Old Skeptic

by Dan

Being a nineteen-year-old male college student, the things that are most on my mind are friends, grades, and girls. Far from it are wizards, witches, brooms, goblins, etc, and nowhere near it are eleven-year-olds running around in maroon sweaters and black robes. So when a friend of mine, who is also a sophomore in college, offered me the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone DVD, my reaction was basically this: “There is no way in Hell I’m going to watch that stupid kiddie movie.” I’d heard of the movies and books before, and I remember all the fuss about the Goblet of Fire book being released (although I recalled it simply as the “green book”). I have loved reading my whole life, but this was not what I considered to be a worthwhile two hours. However, he forced me to take it, so I did, and I left it on my kitchen counter for three days. Every time I walked by, it haunted me…I was interested, intrigued you may even say, but I wasn’t about to follow the route of countless teenie-bopping fanatics (another false belief I held). Finally, on a Friday night (November 8th) when I had absolutely nothing to do, I decided to give it a try. I put the DVD into the tray, almost in pain, fearing what I was about to see. My mind went wild; I pictured Barney flying around on a broomstick, trying to rid the world of the evil Big Bird and his slew of Power Ranger cohorts. Usually I’m pretty open-minded, and I can’t tell you why I wasn’t for this movie. But I turned it on. And I watched. I remember about an hour into it, the phone rang. I paused the movie, sprinted out to the phone, gave the person on the other line a one-word answer, and ran back. At the end of the movie, I cried. It wasn’t the only emotion I had, either. I wanted to punch Dudley and Uncle Vernon in the face at the beginning; I resented Draco trying to put down Ron before the Sorting ceremony; I felt so happy when Harry got presents for Christmas; I was scared when Ron almost died on the chess board; and I was shocked when the real turncoat was actually Professor Quirrel. And, as I said, when I finished the movie, I cried. I can’t tell you why, really…it just made me so happy. The Sorcerer’s Stone was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Amazingly, the second movie was coming out the next week, but that wasn’t on my mind yet. In the week that followed (between when I first watched Sorcerer’s Stone and the release of Chamber of Secrets), I watched Sorcerer’s Stone sixteen times. SIXTEEN. And every time, I got something else out of the story. By the time the second movie was out, I was hyped. I had gone away to visit a friend in college, so we couldn’t go until Saturday. When I told him we were going to see it, his reaction was much like mine when my friend from school offered me the first DVD. But he came along, and he too was taken by the magic of the Harry Potter stories. I went to see it again, and then I let go. That was it, it seemed. The thought of reading the books never entered my mind. However, that would change…

A few days before Christmas break, my friend Joe (the same kid who first gave me the Harry Potter DVD) asked if we could meet at a café near school to hang out once more before break. My best friend Kevin, who also was friends with Joe, came along. When we got there, we decided to play chess. However, my eyes fell upon a book sitting next to his seat: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I asked him if he’d mind me taking a look, and he didn’t. I started reading it. They played chess the whole time, which wasn’t long: in about fifteen minutes, Joe had to leave, and I hadn’t even noticed the time. I had finished the first chapter. I told Joe that maybe I’d pick up the third book if I got a chance, but the truth was, I was dying to read it. Joe asked for the book back, and although I was tempted to ask him if I could borrow it, I didn’t. He put it back, and pulled out a blue wrapped present, and said to me, “Merry Christmas.” I didn’t expect a present from him, and I was touched that he even got me anything. However, when I opened it, I almost died. It was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He explained that since I saw the first two movies, and I liked them so much, I may like reading one this time. He was right. Using the little time I had, only about an hour or so a night, I read the book. In five days, I had finished it. And I was amazed. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read. I decided that I wanted the other three, which I got from my mom for Christmas. Since I had seen the first two movies, I wanted to rush through them to get to the fourth book. But I took my time, and absorbed everything. And when I finished the fourth book, I went back and read them all again. It didn’t take long in the first place; the first too books took me about ten hours total (over the course of two days), and the third book took me just under seven hours (over two days). I was amazed…it wasn’t that I read fast, it was just that it was so easy to absorb. Not because they were easy books, but because they were so amazing…they kept me hooked. I couldn’t put them down. Like with the third book, which I read first, I had to fight to close it every night, and all I thought about the next day was where I had left off.

My whole point in writing this was to fulfil two basic objectives: one, to show how a nineteen-year old got into these books, proving that they transcend age; and two, to tell you why I believe everyone should read these books. First objective completed, here’s why I know that everyone should have a copy of each of the Harry Potter books.

Harry, first off, isn’’t a character. Many great books have been written through the course of time, but no book, in my opinion, has had characters to which people can relate so well as the Harry Potter books. Harry is a real person. When we read the books, we don’t just see the events take place, we feel them. Now, you may say that any good book can do that. But I’ve read many of the classics, and none have had me so captured in the first five lines as the Harry Potter books. From the first line of Prisoner of Azkaban, I was caught. I couldn’t think on my own anymore. The phone could ring, the lights could flicker, Hell, a bomb could go off, but you wouldn’t notice it. Harry isn’’t a character that we leave when we close the book. Because we can so identify with him, we can see him in the real world. When we’re at school, we can understand what it’s like to want to joke about the absurdity of a teacher’s comment; we can want to tell off our least favorite professor; we can feel ourselves bottle up anger when a bully taunts us. These traits are so common, and yet, J.K. Rowling makes them so elegant, so astounding, so perfect. We don’t see imperfection in Harry; for, when he is most lost, he seems to find his way out of any problem, and it’s not because he’s perfect. It’s because he’s imperfect as a person, but has the perfection of human spirit to guide him. What’’s even more astounding is his age. Although many of the things he does seem a little advanced for his age, we never say, “No way! An eleven-year-old can’t do that!” And that further justifies our belief in the perfection of human spirit. We see Harry longing for his parents, and we long for them as well; we see his heart pounding as the basilisk chases him, and our heart pounds; we see a wand raised to Cedric, and we cannot believe it, the shock, the pain, the horror of it all…–it’’s not a book, it’’s a life. The Harry Potter books are true lives simply on pages. I dare anyone to tell me that these people aren’’t real: that Hagrid isn’t a lovable giant, that Dumbledore isn’t going to make us feel better no matter how upset we are, that McGonagall’’s eyes aren’t going to pierce us so fiercely when we are causing trouble that we’’d wish we were never born. But then, if this is all true, where are we left when we finish all the books? For starters, I’ve finished all four books. Well, am I done? Of course not! I’m going to go through all of them again, and find as many connections as I can (for sure, if a teacher told us to do that with school books, we’’d cry, but in this case, it seems not only easy, but welcome). I’’m going to discuss the books with my friends, arguing over what’’s the more exciting book, or which one was my favorite, or which one I wish I could be in. I’m going to theorize who I believe will be becoming couples in the later books (Ron and Hermione? Or Harry and Hermione? Who knows?) And I’m going to lay awake at night, replaying every one of Harry’s, Hermione’s, and Ron’s adventures over and over in my head, and right before I fall asleep, I’’ll remember why I love these books so much. They take us so far away, and yet, they show us exactly what is so great about where we are. They scare us to death, and yet, they let us fall in love. They drop us when we’re so close to the truth, only to catch us before we hit the bottom. They never lie, never cheat, and if they are to steal our hearts, it is only in the most welcome and loving way possible. Forever I will remember being a nineteen-year-old boy who was unwillingly convinced to watch a DVD, which, over the course of two and a half hours, changed my whole outlook on life. Because, as I’ve finished the four books, and am anxiously awaiting the fifth book, I realized something about Harry Potter: I am Harry Potter. We all are. We all are Harry, and Hermione, and Ron, we’’ll always be running away from the Snapes and Filches in our lives; we’ll always be going to the Dumbledores for advice and protection; we’ll always be fighting with the Crabbes, Goyles, and Malfoys; and ultimately, we’ll all have to face our own Voldemorts. But, above all else, above the laughter, fear, anticipation, friendship, love, and happiness that Harry Potter has given me, he has given me one more lasting sentiment: What will come, will come. And when it does, we will face it. But until then, we can enjoy everything there is to enjoy about life, for as far away from Hogwarts as we may seem to be, we are closer than we can ever imagine.