Revisiting Harry Potter

2019-04-07T16:06:35-04:00

So this is where it all starts. I decided to reread the Harry Potter series, written by JK Rowling—although you probably already knew that—back in 2018 when I had stumbled upon a YouTube video that mentioned it. The video brought to my attention the immense popularity of the series and proposed that there must be something in it, something underneath the surface, that caused hundreds of millions of children to pick up and read multiple five hundred page books. This proposal unearthed a curiosity inside of me. I myself am one of the hundreds of millions who read the books as a child, yet I had never stopped and considered the importance of it all until now.

The Harry Potter series was the inception of a childhood spent reading. I remember going to Chapters with my mother and buying the boxset of books 1-6; the seventh book, The Deathly Hallows, wasn't released yet. Surely this event was in some way important to me because I can still remember going to Starbucks after and running into a family friend, who told me that I was going to enjoy my purchase. After looking at the release dates, I estimate that I would have first read the series around 2006 to 2007. Interestingly, upon the initial read I decided to skip the third book and go straight to the fourth; at the time I had decided that werewolves were too scary for me. Fortunately, I overcame this fear and went back to read The Prisoner of Azkaban after finishing Goblet of Fire. I received The Deathly Hallows as a birthday present and must have finished off the series shortly after.

It had been over ten years since the first read when I picked up the series again. I am only realizing now that I never read the books while being the same age as the main characters. As a child, the intricacies of the books definitely went over my head and since I didn't have the experiences of my teenage years to help relate to the characters I was truly along for the ride. Going through the books after all these years was certainly a different type of experience. At times I was taken aback by the similarity between the emotions of certain characters and myself; which invoked self-reflection when I wasn't expecting it. For this reason, I commend Rowling for creating characters that seemed relatedly human to me; that I could connect to. On the other hand, my reflections left me wondering about how much Rowling shaped the way I look at the world today through her stories.

On the topic of writing, I was impressed by Rowling's ability to weave the narrative into dialogue. At times it felt as if I was taken into a dream state along with Harry and his inner thoughts, only to be woken up by another character.

After an hour or so, Hagrid and Slughorn began making extravagant toasts: to Hogwarts, to Dumbledore, to elf-made wine, and to — “Harry Potter!” bellowed Hagrid, slopping some of his fourteenth bucket of wine down his chin as he drained it.

—Half-Blood Prince

I think it is also important to note that the idea of storing one's thoughts is discussed at length throughout the series. In a way Dumbledore's Pensieve is like a wizarding blog: thoughts get put in for later revision, clearing the mind for more pressing issues. The moments of diving into the thoughts of a character always left me with a greater understanding for them. Similarly, by reading these posts I hope that you might gain a better understanding of me.

After years of only picking up books when there was a grade attached to it (and I barely did that), this series has once again ignited my interest in reading.