I was initially resistant to the “Harry Potter” books and movies, assuming they were popular tripe for adolescents. I’d no intention of seeing the movies, reading the books, or learning anything about them. I generally haven’t had any issue avoiding popular media (sorry, James Cameron… I’ve seen neither Titanic nor Avatar, and have no intention of viewing either), so this was an entirely achievable ultimatum. Then, everything changed, and I’m thrilled that it did.
In August of 2007, I began dating the woman who would become my wife, less than a month after the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the fifth of eight Harry Potter films, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the series. I learned early on that she was a fan. She finished all the books and saw the movies to date before I was familiar with anything beyond the name.
When the sixth movie came out, she of course wanted to see it. A few months before we were to become engaged, I acquiesced to her wishes, and reluctantly tagged along to the theatre. By the time it was done, I realized this was a fantasy story right up my alley.
In the intervening years, I went back and viewed the earlier movies, in preparation for the two parts of Deathly Hallows to come. About a year after our marriage, my wife and I excitedly went to the theatre (also our first visit to Movie Tavern, which we’ve been to for nearly every movie we’ve seen since), repeating the event less than a year later for the final film in the series.
At this point, I’d seen every movie in the series at least once, several of them at least twice, and a few even more than that. But I hadn’t read a single word of the books. It had actually been quite a while since I’d sat down to read any books.
Now, don’t misunderstand me here—I am not the kind of person who eschews reading in general. I hold a Master of Arts in English Literature and a Bachelor’s in English. I had always been a reader. Throughout my college tenure, I was forced to be a reader, and read novels of my choosing on top of assigned works. I read voraciously, adding in my own options with the thought it would help me not get burned out on what I had to read. It worked. For a time.
In the end, I ended up burned out on reading entirely.
I spent the better part of a decade barely reading any novels. For a long time, I thought I might never go back, never enjoy long-form fiction again. Eventually, I accepted what I now view as an inevitability, and I picked up my wife’s paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone… only to barely put it down before it was finished.
Suddenly, my love of reading was reborn.
Over the last few years, I’ve been slowly working my way through the series, rewatching each movie as I finish each book. But it hasn’t stopped with Harry Potter. I’m back to reading almost daily again, enjoying a wide variety of literature in all sorts of genres. Simply put, Harry Potter made one of my most enjoyable activities enjoyable once again. I now have a Kindle to make things a bit easier (though I do miss physical books at times), and my Amazon wish list is often filled with various volumes.
At this point, I have read myself down to the final book of the series, but I can’t get myself to proceed. Thanks to the movies, I more or less know how everything is going to turn out, but when it’s over… it’s over. I’ve been reading all variety of other books in the meantime, but I’m sure I’ll have to finish things out eventually.
Once I do, I suspect I’ll be rereading this series for years to come. Popular tripe for adolescents? Maybe. But it’s also so much more, and so easy to get yourself lost in J.K. Rowling’s world… which at least reminded me what a joy it can be to get lost in any fictional world.