“Harry Potter” and a Literary Journey Through the Years
Harry Potter has been in my life since I was eight years old. That first second-hand paperback with a scarlet steam engine and a boy with a lightning scar welcomed me into a world that has dominated my bookworm life ever since. For me, Harry Potter is a series that has come to represent my own coming-of-age story.
8-9: Getting on the Train
Like many in my generation, I discovered Harry Potter right at the edge of my reading career. I could read chapter books, but I had only just landed past that threshold of books without pictures. And so after working through the first chapter with Mum, she told me I was ready to have a go at reading it on my own. I think that’s when I knew that this bookmarked a real milestone in my reading journey. But of course, I was far too engrossed to pay much attention to that moment. I simply carried on reading.
10-12: Falling in Love
Reading Harry Potter was like eating at a banquet. I was the Very Hungry Caterpillar, eating through each book with a ravenous appetite. In hindsight, perhaps I should’ve taken more time, appreciating the experience without any knowledge of where it might take me. Alas, at this age, I was too caught up in the magic of Harry Potter to stop. It was Diagon Alley where I knew this book had me in its clutches, that gateway into a hidden world brimming with magic and mystery. I found something to love in all these ink people: Harry’s wide-eyed wonder tinged with cheeky sarcasm, Hermione’s bushy hair and love of books, Ron’s lanky features and fierce loyalty.
13-14: End of an Era and Re-reading
My mum had a strict rule regarding each Harry Potter book – I had to wait a year between each one. I was both tormented by this and grateful for it. It meant that as Harry and his friends grew so did I. It also meant that I spent a lot of time in between books re-reading the series. Re-reading Harry Potter is only slightly less thrilling than reading it for the first time, and as I read, I appreciated the subtleties of the books. I loved re-reading so much that after coming to the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the first time, I flipped right back to page one and carried on. I read to the point that the hardback spine wore out so much that it had to be blue-tacked, sewn, and even safety-pinned back on the book.
And so it was at 14 that I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Knowing it would be the end, I made sure to pace myself. And what a read! Watching all the twists, turns, revelations, and all the threads of the web coming together was a reading experience like no other.
15-18: Is It a Children’s Book?
Change is often expected upon reaching adulthood. Perhaps, this is when people expect that a book series like Harry Potter will fade from readers’ lives, designated as it often is as a “children’s book.” But how could people think it was solely for children? From facing the worst teachers to dark, soul-sucking creatures that represent depression, I was finding more and more aspects of the series to affiliate with. The layers of complexity fascinated me; all the subplots that contained allusions to more grown-up and complicated stories lay just beneath the surface.
19-20: Fans, Fandom, and Merch – Am I a “Proper Fan”?
It may seem odd, but up to this point, I hadn’t found anyone who loved Harry Potter the way I did. But then, I found out that Potter was – in fact – a worldwide organization, which included merchandise, movie spin-offs, and theme parks. It was a little overwhelming. The memes I appreciate but not the commercialization of my childhood and teenage years. Why was my love of Harry Potter judged by how many Funko Pop figures I had on my bookcase or how many times I had dressed in Harry Potter cosplay? It was conflicting but exciting. Now, Harry Potter was something I could express in public, something I could write about.
21: The Journey Continues
I’m still an avid fan (which is good considering my job). My merchandise collection remains small, but I have my own special edition book set. I love slipping Harry Potter references into normal conversations. Sometimes (all right, often), I get caught re-reading Harry Potter instead of reading new books. I love finding those forgotten gems, like Fred and George’s jokes or the sheer terror at Lupin’s werewolf transformation. I still feel a thrill walking down Diagon Alley with Harry and Hagrid.
My creative writing class lecturer once told me that reading is magical since we perceive it in the same way as actual experiences. So really, we have all explored Hogwarts under an Invisibility Cloak, laughed in the face of Boggarts, and defeated Dementors. Dumbledore’s words of wisdom were correct.
Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” (DH 723)