“The stories we love best do live in us forever.”— J.K. Rowling
Few series captivate the world and instill a love of reading in children that keeps them coming back for more. You could call Harry Potter a global phenomenon, but it’s become too personal for all of those who cherish every world on each worn page that it would be a shame to boil it down to a few concepts, themes, and compliments.
I remember when I read the series for the first time in 5th grade. I was a little late to the Harry Potter party, not having read it earlier in life because I didn’t think I would like it, nor was I interested in reading a book that was over 800 pages long (*cough* Order of the Phoenix *cough*). But to my amazement, and the knowing looks I received having already established myself as a voracious reader, I loved the series and couldn’t get enough.
Obsession is exactly the word I would use to describe my relationship with Harry Potter upon reading the series for the first time. The desire to go to Hogwarts, to walk among the castle in robes with a wand and reading out of spell books, to be sorted into my house, to fly on a broom, and to have a reason that I felt so different was what I longed for endlessly.
When you start out in chapter one of The Sorcerer’s Stone, you have the whole series in front of you, but before the end of the day, you’re almost half-way through the first book. Then in two days you’re onto the second. And before you know it, the series is finished and you have to try to find something else new to read, but you don’t want to because you know will never compare to the world and characters you had just shared a perilous magical journey with for the last weeks whilst cuddled up on a couch so far away from reality. If I could go back and reread the series for the first time, I would do so in a heartbeat. I would relinquish the little social standing I had in elementary school all over again for the fandom and nerd-status that came with Harry Potter.
In becoming so obsessed with Harry Potter, I both alienated myself from my friends who hadn’t been as so taken with it and found a community with whom I felt comfortable and belonged. Harry Potter became a part of me, and as I went back to read the series again and again, I bought Wizardology books from the bookstore, I took countless quizzes to find my house (this was before Pottermore- yes Ravenclaws!), I bought all the movies, compiled all the soundtracks, purchased memorabilia, and created collages on PowerPoint. Looking back, I realize it’s not normal behavior for a preteen girl, but I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. The magic didn’t end for me at the conclusion of Deathly Hallows with “All was well.”
“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” ― J.K. Rowling
I felt at home. Harry Potter became my home like it has for so many others. The warmth and comfort that surrounds you like a protective blanket when you open the cracked spine and smell the thinning pages, and all your thoughts and dreams and emotions you’ve felt as you’ve gone with Harry on his journey are still contained in the binding sitting there on your shelf.
With the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I once again got to experience the raw excitement that comes from having another adventure at Hogwarts created to be consumed. And, this time, I was not alone in my nerdiness, but surrounded by others who were just as, if not more, obsessed with the series. There were kids, teenagers, adults all in costume in my local bookstore just before the midnight release coloring, making wands, having trivia debates, and just talking about Harry Potter. It was one of the happiest nights of my life.
“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” ― J.K. Rowling
The community that surrounds Harry Potter has so much love and acceptance that I am proud to call myself a part of it. And, it gives me hope that the future generations will also grow up with the values and magic that makes up the Harry Potter series. Maybe, if we all come together to better the world as millions come together to share in fandoms, the world will be a happier, more positive, more peaceful place?