It's July 17th when this post is going up, which means there are only 13 DAYS until the Cursed Child opens in the West End, 14 DAYS until the script book is available and 6 DAYS until I get to see the play myself. I am officially freaking out.
Today I wanted to talk about my own personal experiences with the Harry Potter series. This is probably really self indulgent and no one cares, but whatever. I just think it's fascinating how Harry Potter has effected so many people's lives in different ways and everybody has completely different experiences, but we all love the books in the same way
My first experience with Harry Potter was when I was about seven years old (for reference: the year was 2007 and all of the books had already been published. I was already very late to the party). My mum picked me up from drama class and told me she had purchased three of the books in the series from a charity shop. The hype for Deathly Hallows had been intense for the past few months, and her coworkers had told her I was probably old enough to start enjoying the series. The books were cracked and dog eared, and for some reason she had only purchased books 1,3 and 5 in the series, but I was so excited to have them.
|My original charity shop editions. (Please ignore the horrible photography, reading is my only talent.)|
That night my Mum started reading Philosopher's stone to me (Yes, it's philosopher's stone. That's the original title and anybody who argues with it is wrong). We got to the scene where Hagrid shows up to say YER A WIZARD HARRY, and then my Mum decided it was time for me to go to bed. I did not go to bed. I carried on reading, and the next day I told my Mum I was going to read it by myself so I could get through it faster. She now says she hates Harry Potter, and I have to wonder if it's because I snubbed her when I was seven. I finished Philosopher's stone in a few days, immediately got Chamber of secrets from the library, and for a few months I was completely engrossed in the wizarding world. I couldn't stop talking about them. I made my friends play quidditch in the playground. I decided Hermione Granger was my soulmate.
And then I realised that Order of the Phoenix was over 700 pages long. Seven year old Mia was far too intimidated by this; she couldn't imagine reading that many words, and so she just didn't read it. I never finished the series, and I never quite forgave myself for it.
Over the years I watched the movies countless times. I always loved the Wizarding world, and I never let go
of the characters or the story. But as much as I adored the films, I always felt like a fraud talking about it since I'd never finished the series. My friends, who are all geeky fangirls too, were horrified by this. They wouldn't leave me alone until I finally read the last three books. I wanted to, but I just never got the chance. I had school and writing and friends and a hell of a lot more books to read, and every time I told myself I was going to read Harry Potter something got in the way.
Last summer, I was determined to change this. I took the whole series with me on a two week holiday (which made my suitcase extremely heavy. I don't necessarily recommend it.) and for fourteen days all I did was read. For fourteen days I was entirely engrossed in the wizarding world, and it might have been the best fourteen days of my life. I'm not going to get too personal here, but I'd been going through a lot that past year and Harry Potter stepped in at the exact moment that I really needed it. I'd forgotten just how magical they were, or how much I loved the characters, or how much reading J.K Rowling's writing made me feel safe. People say reading Harry Potter is like going home, and on that holiday I finally understood what they meant. I may have abandoned Hogwarts when I was seven, but when I went back it was only more incredible. This ended with me on the last day of the holiday, sat in a bar with my sister and sobbing hysterically whilst I finished Deathly Hallows. I don't think my family have ever been quite so ashamed of me.
Over the past year I've fully embraced my love for Harry Potter, and I think I chose the perfect time to do so. With the Cursed Child coming in less than two weeks and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them being released in November (expect more Potter-themed posts around then) the fandom is more alive than it's been in years, and it's been so great to finally get to be a part of that. I found my people! My people are awesome!
My Harry Potter story isn't very exciting, and I'm more than slightly embarrassed that it took me so damn long to read the series, but it is important to me. Last summer I found so much more than a great book series; I found friends I never thought I'd make, role models I look up to in pretty much every situation (if you've never asked yourself “what would Hermione Granger do?” you're missing out) and I home I can go to just by opening a book. I guess you could say it's llike magic.
Thanks for reading, and sorry for getting all sentimental and cliché at the end!