Harry Potter turns 20 today! Well, the books do at least.
(Side Note: I find it completely hilarious that this is my 7th On Meredith’s Mind post, given how significant that number is in HP. It feels very appropriate for such a huge birthday).
It’s incredibly strange to think that I almost wasn’t a part of this incredible world and fandom. But believe it or not, I didn’t like Harry Potter when it first came out. It wasn’t until 6th grade when my teacher decided to read the books to our class during snack time that I really started to get into them. At first, I would sit at my own desk, reading whatever book I had brought with me that day. But before I knew it, I was hooked. In the end, I was the first person over to the reading carpet each day. I even bought my own copies of the books and read along with – and sometimes ahead of – the teacher (Check out my Harry Potter Confessions to read the full story and more).
Earlier this year, that teacher passed away and the news stunned me. This loss broke my heart, more than I ever imagined it could. Because without her, I wouldn’t be the gigantic Potterhead that I am today and… I can’t even begin to imagine what my life would be like without these books. Hogwarts is my home. These books shaped me as a reader and made me the person I am today. I learned so much from Harry and his friends, and life would be empty without them.
I’ve read these books so many times, most people don’t believe me when I tell them. But I kid you not: I’ve read Sorcerer’s Stone 32+ times, Chamber of Secret’s 36+ times, Prisoner of Azkaban 30+ times, Goblet of Fire 26+ times, Order of the Phoenix 16+ times, Half Blood Prince 4 times, and The Deathly Hallows 3 times.
Yeah… I read Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secret’s so many times, especially, that I broke the spines and had to buy new books, bahahaha *Coughs.* And I’ll likely have to replace Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire soon, as well. I re-read Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secret’s so many times because.. well… I loved them! Of the first four books (and at that point in time), they were my favorites. So I re-read them CONSTANTLY. I would re-read every book with every new book release and every new movie release, and sometimes I just did random series re-reads – anytime I was sad or lonely or just bored.
I actually did a re-read in December 2016/January 2017 – my first full series re-read since 2009 and it was SO strange because, between 2000-2009, I read at least one (usually more) Harry Potter book per year. And then all of a sudden in 2009, I transferred from community college to a 4-year school and life just got insane and hectic and I didn’t have time to do a re-read. So I went NINE WHOLE YEARS without reading a Harry Potter book. And life felt empty. 2009-2016 were terrible years for my family and I was without my Hogwarts Family through it all. These books are my comfort, yet I couldn’t read them during a time in my life when I needed comfort more than ever. I don’t know why I didn’t find the time to read them… I think I was just too exhausted and absorbed in life.
But when I finally did my 2016-17 re-read, man was it epic! I hadn’t read them in so long, yet had seen the movies so many times, I had forgotten certain things. So reading them after nine years was almost like reading them for the first time again – and boy, did that bring on nostalgic feels!
I can remember going to midnight release parties for Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, and reading them the minute I got home, not stopping until I’d reached the end. I can remember the excitement when the movies were picked up. I remember the long wait for Order of the Phoenix and the chilling anticipation of Half-Blood Prince, where we were told a very important character would be killed off. I remember the controversy over Deathly Hallows and the debate of whether or not Harry would die at the end, and how that would effect young kids who still didn’t fully understand the concept of death.
I literally grew up with these books and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. They will forever be a part of me and I’ll always hold them near and dear to my heart.
Yes, I went there.
So tell me, what are your favorite Harry Potter memories? What do the books mean to you?
I’ve had to replace Sorcerer’s Stone several times and my copy of Goblet of Fire fell apart the other day when I was moving books around *hides eyes*. The others are in pretty rough shape too but I love them all so much and I’ve read them countless times. I loved the day that a book would be released or that the movie would open because I would be there. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that excited about anything else! I’m with you the books shaped who I am as a reader but more importantly as a person today. The characters in these books always made me feel better no matter what’s going on in my life. I can’t imagine what life would be like without Hogwarts, Harry, Ron, Hermione and the others.
Oh no! RIP Goblet of Fire :( I agree – those midnight release parties were incredible, and so far, nothing else can compare! I can’t imagine a life without Hogwarts, either!