It’s amazing how we find certain books and stories that just stick and make complete sense. We can read thousands of really great books, but only a few are those special books which we want others to read or pass down to our children. For me, the Harry Potter books are a few of those special books.
In 2000, my grandfather gave me a hard and heavy present, every child’s dream. In it was a thick book with no pictures. I wasn’t the kind of child at that time, which would jump up and down cheering over a book, but I thanked him. It’s not that I didn’t like books or reading, I just think I was hoping I’d get a cool water pistol or marbles. I put away the book on my shelf and went outside to play with my brothers. I didn’t know back then that it would turn out to be such an amazing gift. Since I wasn’t a professional reader yet, I had my mother read the book to me before I went to sleep instead, and I loved it, but my mother didn’t. The Swedish translation was bad and hard for her to read.
Then the film came out and I watched it on our VHS with Swedish speech. I was still not a good enough reader to keep up with changing subtitles. Later I got the second book which I read myself, at least I read as far as the chapter introducing Aragog. I was too terrified to keep reading. Then a saw the second film and became even more terrified of Aragog and the Basilisk. I still can’t watch the first two films without feeling a bit uneasy (Voldemort and the unicorn scene, as well as the Aragog and Basilisk scenes, have scarred me for life, pun intended).
I continued watching the films one by one in secret and sadly, stopped reading the books. By the point the fourth film came out, I still hadn’t read past book two and the chapter about Aragog, but I still loved the story, secretly. You see, during that time, it wasn’t socially accepted amongst my peers to like either the books or the films and I just wanted to fit in and be like everybody else, just like Harry.
The years passed and finally I realised how stupid I’d been, giving up something I loved because of opinions held by others. That summer, the summer of 2009, aka ‘My summer of Harry Potter’, I went into a complete Harry Potter mode. I reread the first two books and when I finished took my bike, the ferry and the bus into town to buy the next book. The only thing I did that summer was reading Harry Potter. I got completely lost in the story and was shocked whenever someone called my name, causing me to be thrown back into the real world. When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about reading and when I was sleeping I kept dreaming about Hogwarts.
This was also during a time when I felt lonely, isolated and anxious about the future and who I was. The characters became my friends and Hogwarts my safe place. The Harry Potter series have taught me so much about believing in oneself, standing up for what is right, friendship, life and death, good and evil, the complexity of life and so much more it would take a whole other post to explain it all.
I’m not one of those people who fell in love with the books when they were children, sitting in a corner on recess reading Harry Potter wearing round glasses (that would’ve been cool though). I’ve always liked Harry Potter, but it wasn’t until ‘My summer of Harry Potter’ I realised just how much. I’m a proud Potterhead and Hufflepuff regardless of how my story started. The most important thing is that it did.
What’s the story of you and your favourite book(s)?