Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book 7: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling. Released in the States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
I'm not including a link here- if you can't find or haven't heard of Harry Potter, well, there's really no hope now, is there?
I remember when I first entered the world of Harry Potter. It was 1998. I was in Atlanta, and was running errands with my cousin J-------. She had a quick stop to make in one shop, and said, "Here, read this while I run inside and pick up these photo proofs. Mike sent them over from England, and apparently these books are insanely popular there."
And so, in the fifteen minutes or so that J was inside, I read the first several pages of Harry. And even though I was thirteen years older than Harry, I was hooked. Something about the way JK Rowling wrote about Harry, and Muggles, and magic just enthralled me from the beginning.
Rowling created an enchanting magical world. Whether intentional or not, Rowling wrote on two levels. Her clever use of names likely wouldn't be caught by 9-12 year olds, but older readers would certainly notice them. In this first book, the relationships were so important. The Magic was a subtext. It wasn't until the later books that I found myself wishing for the magical abilities myself- how cool would it be to be magical.
I recognized pieces of myself in Hermione. I already adored Ron. As old as I was, Rowling captivated me, and I worked with J to have Mike send me the first three books from the UK. I read them all in quick succession. It started me on a journey into a world that still fascinates me today. Early in the third book, I realized how Rowling had begun laying a foundation in Book 1 that was going to be important throughout the series. That is why I've read the first six books numerous times. And it is why I am re-reading the series again now, before the first of the last two films hits theaters this November.
The piece of this book that I carry with me is Dumbledore's words to Harry when Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised. He said, "It does not do to dwell in dreams and forget to live. (UK Children's edition, p 157)."
I could talk about Potter all day. I won't. But I will be forever grateful to JK Rowling for opening my eyes to an entirely new genre of fiction. For creating endearing characters and a world that has become a part of our culture (I cannot believe how many "texts from last night" and other contemporary works reference the HP series). I'm grateful to Rowling for opening up to a whole new generation the joy of reading.
I won't read Chamber of Secrets immediately, on to something else for the next book. But I will come back to the Magical world before this journey is over.

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