On Books I Have Loved: Harry Potter

Dear Future Publisher,

With Harry Potter and the Cursed Child coming out in print in less than a week, there seems to be no better time to write of my love for the Harry Potter series.  I’m sure it’s unsurprising to you, given what a phenomenon the series has been and given that I was a young avid reader in the target demographic when the first one was released.  I was seven when the first book came out, and from that time until this, with no reprieve and no abatement, I have been obsessed.  My mom read it to me first – to me and my sister, curled up all in a bed at night before dispersing to our separate rooms and turning out the lights. She read and I closed my eyes and let the words transport me and I saw it all.  It was so vivid, so magical.  So captivating.  I was hooked.

It would be hard to underestimate my love for Harry Potter, and what a significant part of my life this series – the books and then the movies and all the merchandise that has come alongside them – has been.  It was the defining love of my life for years and years.  I was that girl, the one widely known as a fan (I put the fanatic in fan), the one with all the knick-knacks and games who read and reread and waited anxiously for the next installment.  The one who argued plot points at lunch hour and watched the movies over and over and knew all the trivia and wanted to marry Daniel Radcliffe.  The one who tore pages out of magazines and searched for news on fan sites and role-played improvised fan fiction with my cousin.  The girl who didn’t think Hermione was at all weird because she was me all over.  The girl still upset about Richard Harris’ death, still mad about DIDJAPUTYOURNAMEINTHEGOBLETOFFIRE, still annoyed about smooth hair and a pink dress.  The one who read book seven in one (prolonged) sitting, stopping only to cry (I can’t even think about it, I can’t, even that is enough to tear up).  The one whose room looked like this.

Just a taste of my Potter-inspired room.

I can’t remember whether my love of fantasy books predates Potter.  It was so long ago, it has been a part of my life for so many years, that it is genuinely difficult for me to separate it out, to think about what my life would be like without it or what it was like before.  If I did already love fantasy (I think I did, I think I had already read and loved Eva Ibbotson and The Castle in the Attic and more), then Harry Potter cemented that love.  And I think it inspired me, too, to write – something I already loved to do in class, wrapping my stories in wallpaper covers and drawing sloppy pictures to go with my tentative words.

I could blather on forever without really imparting any sense of how much these books meant to me, how much they shaped me, and it wouldn’t be new and inspired because I know they’ve been the same for so many people.  So much has already been said because these books were important for a generation of children – for generations of children and adults.  There’s no sense getting into specifics about the characters or the themes or the world or the plot or anything else, because it’s all been said before, and will be said again.

Suffice it to say this: they were the star at the center of my universe for many years, and their gravity tugs at me even now, and will, yes, always.

I’m excited for the release of Cursed Child.  Nervous, too, worried that this eighth story will be a disappointment, will be a wet slap, a needless coda after a much-loved song.  But yes, I have it on pre-order, because this is a love I could never deny, a love that burned bright in my youth and will burn strong all my life.  And although my room no longer looks like that (most of the stuff is in storage until I have my own place and more room to spread out), I still have one shelf, like a little shrine, that is always there to remind me.  To remind me of my past, of my greatest love, and, perhaps most of all, of the potential power of a story, the way it can catch a reader’s imagination and become a part of who they are.

My shrine.




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