Hi everyone! I know I said my next Jo Talks post would be about the pros and cons of Goodreads and I do still intend to do that post, but this Monday was the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, and I couldn’t very well let any anniversary like that pass without doing a post about Harry Potter could I (granted a four days late post, but still!).
I’m almost 21, so I literally grew up with Harry Potter, although because I was so young when the books were releasing, I never went to any of the midnight releases (not until The Cursed Child was released last year when I went to a midnight release in Basingstoke with a friend), but still, the books were an integral part of my childhood. My dad used to read them to my sister and I when we were really little and when I was old enough to read on my own, Harry Potter was one of the first series I came to. I went to see each and every movie when it was released in cinemas (at least I think so, I was 4 when The Philosopher’s Stone was released, so I perhaps didn’t see that one in the cinema, but I definitely remember seeing the second one onwards), after having read the books first of course!
I had always loved fantasy books, when I was a kid, I loved reading about fairies and unicorns and magic and adventures but no fantasy book that I read when I was a kid had more impact on me than Harry Potter. I’m not sure what it was, whether it was the fact that the books were set in our world rather than a fantastical one, or that it was so connected to the city I grew up in (London), or perhaps just that Harry was a totally normal kid, who grew up in a totally normal household and found out that he was special but I definitely felt an instant connection to this young wizard who was thrust into a magical world. It started what I’m sure will be a lifelong addiction to magic.
Hermione was and still is one of the biggest reasons why Harry Potter means so much to me. I connected to her on such a deep level, reading about her was like seeing a reflection of myself. She was this frizzy haired, brainy, reader who never had a lot of friends, but was incredibly loyal to her close ones and wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in and I could totally relate to that. I loved seeing someone who liked school, who liked books and wasn’t the prettiest or most popular girl in school, save the world because that gave me hope. It gave me hope that if Hermione, someone who was very much like me, could make a huge difference in her world then maybe I could too. And that it didn’t matter that I wasn’t the prettiest or most popular girl in school, because neither was Hermione and without her, Harry would have died in the first book! For me, Hermione was always the real hero of Harry Potter and having her as a kid, gave me someone to look up to, someone to aspire to be. I will be forever grateful to JK Rowling for Hermione as she has been a profound inspiration and influence on my life.
Having Harry Potter has also given me an instant connection with the other readers of my generation. We all have this common thread, this common experience to share, it’s created a beautiful community of passionate nerds who are all connected by this one story and it’s such an amazing and wonderful thing. All of my closest friends are of course Harry Potter addicts as well and it’s been a great thing for us to bond over.
Reading Harry Potter was the first time that I knew I wanted to be a writer. Right from that very first sentence, I was captivated. I had always been a reader and I had written a little, but reading about JK Rowling’s magical world was the first time that I knew I wanted to do that too, I wanted to create magical worlds. I remember telling people when I was a kid, not that I wanted to be an author but that I wanted to be JK Rowling. She gave me something to aspire to, something to dream of and for that I will always be thankful. She opened up a whole new world of possibilities for a little girl who dreamed of magic and I have no words to describe how grateful I am for that. If I ever do manage to get a book published, I will know that it all started with a little girl reading about a boy wizard and a magical world.
Harry Potter is like an old friend. Every time I come back to the series (which I have, many times over the years), it feels like I’m being welcomed home, like I’m being embraced by friends that I haven’t seen in years. It is there to comfort me, to bring me joy, to give me an escape from my mundane world. It is an ever constant in my life, even when everything else is changing, I always have these books and movies and I know that no matter what happens it will always be there for me.
Harry Potter also taught me so much. It taught me about prejudice, it taught me about friendship and love and strength and bravery. It taught me that it’s okay to be unapologetically myself and no matter how desperate the odds, that there is always hope. The lessons that I have taken from Harry Potter are lessons that I know I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Harry Potter will always be more than just a book series for me. It has shaped who I am as a person, as a reader, as a writer and in so many other innumerable ways. It is the series of my childhood, one of the first books I remember truly loving. It’s made me a part of a worldwide family that I will be forever connected to, if only through this one thing. I’m so proud to be a part of this amazing fandom, and will be forever grateful to JK Rowling, not only for inspiring me to want to become a writer but for creating this beautiful world that made me believe in magic. That showed me that the written word is the closest thing to magic that we have. And for forever giving me a home within the pages of her books. She’ll never know how much she has done for this frizzy haired book nerd.
Happy anniversary Harry Potter! And thank you JK Rowling. From all of us.
What does Harry Potter mean to you? Share your Potter related memories in the comments!
I will have more discussion posts for you soon, but in the meantime, I just finished One of Us Is Lying, so I’ll have a review of that up very soon, I will also have a new #RockMyTBR update and a new Top Ten Tuesday, so lots to come in the next week, stay tuned!