I was very late to the Harry Potter party…very late. I saw a few of the movies in college with my friends who were Harry Potter fans, including some fun midnight showings. I just never got around to reading the books. I always knew I would like them, I just wanted to make sure I had the time to devote to read them and with 2 jobs the past 5+ years, time was not something I had a whole lot of. Then, this past Christmas, an opportunity presented itself. I noticed they were offering the very first Harry Potter book as a free download from the Amazon Kindle Store. So I promptly downloaded it and was immediately hooked.
Fast forward to now and I’m on the very last book (and I haven’t finished so no spoilers!). This one is actually a hard copy my roommate kindly brought me from the U.K. so it’s extra special. I’ve done a lot of reading in my life, for both fun and for school. I’ve read a lot of great books too and a few not so great ones. But I can say with complete confidence that the Harry Potter series are some of the best books I’ve ever read. They’re not only so utterly engrossing, they’re extremely well written. Rowling gives you just enough detail to feel like you’re going along for the ride with Harry without going overboard as a lot of authors do. These are technically considered young adult books too but Rowling never writes down to her readers. She writes intelligently and never condescendingly.
The themes and situations in these books are incredibly resonant too. Yes the books are about people who can use magic, but the struggles they deal with and the problems they have are actually just like all of us had growing up. Liking a boy or a girl and not knowing what to do about it. Having to deal with the school bully. Fights with friends. Even in the context of the magic, it isn’t something the wizards all just have and can use freely. It’s something that has to be learned just like a subject in school. It’s something they have to get good at and it’s something that can come with a price too.
The books also deal with things like racism (in the form of the pure blood vs. “mudbloods” or muggles themes) and reading some of the passages about Voldemort, I was reminded in a big way of the current president and what we’re all dealing with in that area. I think it really speaks to the power and general greatness of these books that this many years later they’re still so very applicable.
These books have helped me escape some of the outer turmoil going on. I’ve looked forward to coming home every night and cracking open the latest version and feeling like I’m at Hogwarts or in Hogsmeade right along with the characters. I’m going to be sad when I’m finally finished and won’t have the books to transport me away from the real world for a while. I imagine it’ll be a lot like when I finished Gilmore Girls for the first time. I felt like I’d left Stars Hollow for good and wanted to go back immediately. Thank you J.K. Rowling for the much needed escape and thanks for bringing us all Harry.