I am not sure when I read the first book or when I finished reading them for the first time. I do remember it was 2006 when I read them the second time. All seven books of them. In one week. In between working full-time and researching infertility treatments. I stayed up in the wee hours of the morning unable to put it down, sometime going back to re-read earlier books and chapters. I made connections, smiled over trivia; fell in love with Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom. I marveled over the clever naming of spells, the brilliant mind at work behind the Marauder’s Map and the sheer ingenuity of the Deathly Hallows. I soar in the air with Ginny as she plays Quidditch. I shudder as the dementors’ prowl over Hogwarts. I hesitate with Draco as he stands pointing his wand at Dumbledore.
I have since read the series many times. My first splurge on books once I moved to the US was the boxed collectible set it came in. Each time I pass the box sitting on my bookshelf, I smile. It reminds me of the glorious days I spent getting lost in The Magic Faraway Tree and the St. Clare series by Enid Blyton. It reminds me of what a pleasure reading is. It reminds me of days sitting with a book in hand, being so lost that the real world seems virtual.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Over the years The Harry Potter series has become my refuge. I go to it when I have read something deep and need to recover. I go to it when I tire of light reading. I go to it when I want to feel home. In the hallowed halls of Hogwarts, I am transformed into a Gryffindor. I am wearing the invisible cloak going on nightly jaunts to Hagrid’s hut. I am raising my hand with Hermione in class. I am with Ron as he tries to keep pace with his illustrious friends. I am with Fred and George as they prank their class. Each character is real to me; each book special. But I love Harry the best of all. Cursed, flawed, orphaned, envied, hated, loved, he deals with it as befits a growing teenager.
Sometimes, I wonder what it would have been like to be part of a generation that grew up with him. Starting middle school, developing crushes on school mates, wondering what path to forge as they stood on the cusp of adulthood knowing they will make a difference because of who they are.
I fall in love again with the unique, imperfect bunch of kids who grows up too fast. I fall in love with the writing. I fall in love with words. Most of all I fall in love with an author who has created this magical world for me to retreat in when the real world feels like it is too much.
Happy Birthday Harry Potter and Happy Birthday J. K. Rowling!