As it all draws to a close I find myself nostalgic for the days when Harry Potter was still new to me. I regret that I didn't start reading the series until after the 4th book was already published, but it was still wonderful and exciting to me. Entering the world of magic with Harry. It was better, almost, that I didn't have to wait for another book to be published after I'd finished reading the first one. I don't think I could have stood it.
When book number 5 was due to come out, we pre-ordered it from the local Borders store and the night before the release we went and stood in line from 9pm until midnight when they finally started handing out the copies. There were people with bottle cap glasses on and hand drawn lightning bolts on their foreheads. People wearing cloaks and scarves with different house colors on them. And my own mother, dressed up as a witch.
I remember carrying the books around with me, reading while I ate, while I "watched tv", sometimes while I was sitting in traffic, always when I was a passenger in a vehicle and not its driver, while I was supposed to be sleeping... I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. I loved reading all of the theories online of what the next book would contain. I loved finding the websites with all of the random information about names and people in the books. Like the word Dumbledore means bumblebee. And that the school motto translated to Never Tickle Sleeping Dragons. I loved going in to stores and finding Harry Potter memorabilia, long before the movies were ever thought of. The posters of Harry playing Quidditch. The stuffed dragons named Norbert. The Hagrid statues with pockets full of sausages and other odds and ends. The Jelly Bellies turned in to Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans. Finding out that some of those beans really DID taste disgusting. But loving them because they were supposed to.
Harry was the first person to truly pull me into his world and away from my own when I needed to be. I'd read fantasy before, but nothing that really swept me up in its story the way Harry Potter always did. It was with these books that I found my escape when things got too painful to handle. It may not have made them go away completely, but it held them at bay for as long as I had the books open.
I have always been a reader. But for a while... I stopped reading. There weren't really any books that interested me, and being forced to read books for school work turned me off of doing it all together. Harry Potter is what got me reading again. Hard to believe it started out on JK Rowlings napkin.
I love the movies too though. In a different way than I love the books. They leave out so much of the stories, but I understand you can't put all of that wonderful world into a 3 hour movie. I had to learn to look at them objectively, or else I'd do nothing but pick them apart and point out that "this didn't happen" or "that wasn't REALLY what he said" or "they forgot to do that!". It was nice to see the movies, to be able to put faces with the names I was reading. To really feel like I knew them. That they were my friends.
That's what JK Rowling did. She wrote about people who really felt like they were friends when I was reading. And every time a book ended it felt like my friends were leaving for a while. And I was sad. And now? They're gone for good. Or at least... they won't come back the same way they did before. But I'll always be able to remember the way things were. I'll always be able to read the stories again and remember the way I felt the first time I picked up the books. I'll always be able to watch the movies and feel just as excited to finally see Hogwarts and Diagon Alley and Harry and Hermione and Ron.
This series really was incredibly magical. My 8 year old has just started reading The Sorcerer's Stone. She's a reluctant reader unfortunately. I can only hope Harry opens up a world of reading for her the way it did for me.