Friday, November 19, 2010

Julia on Harry Potter and the College Age Kid

PhotobucketI still remember where I was when I heard about the phenomena that is Harry Potter . I was in the living room and my sister was reading a book so of course I asked what it was. She told me it was a story about a boy wizard and I thought I would give it a shot. That one moment led to years of fan-fiction, speculation (I wrote my junior year research paper on the art of guessing what would happen next in Harry Potter book), endless rereads, release parties (complete with costumes) and midnight movies.

I grew up with Harry. The first time I read each book, I was never more than two years older than Harry was and really could relate to him and his emotions. When I reread them as a college student, I was astounded at the literary depth I had missed the first go around and how she could make so many references tie together almost seamlessly across seven books. I read them in a whole new light that made me appreciate them even more.

I've been following Mark Reads Harry Potter, a guy in his 20s reading the Harry Potter series for the first time relatively spoiler free and blogging his each chapter. Experiencing them again with him as he read them combined with the first part of the last Harry Potter movie coming out has put me in a nostalgic mood. So I got curious to other's experiences with Harry Potter and asked the group.

Daisy said:
When I first discovered the Harry Potter books, 1-3 were in print and I got them from my parents. I loved them so much that while waiting for the Goblet of Fire to come out, I reread them over and over again. For about 4-5 months. I must have read them over 8 times in that period, my parents thought I was crazy.
I also read loads of fanfiction while waiting for the next book to come out, most of them centered around Harry's parents' time at Hogwarts. It gave me my Sirius fix anytime, he's my favourite character. I have to admit I even wrote some myself, one of those is a story I never finished, a cross-over between Harry Potter and Charmed, which I was also obsessed with at the time.
I have so many great memories from that time and just reading the books, the anticipation when the next one was almost coming out.. It's what made me start reading books in English, it took way too long for them to get translated!
Lori said:
I was 10 years old when I first read them. My grandma ordered the first three for me from Amazon. (I'd never received anything from Amazon before, so I remember it well) I don't recall expressing a desire to read them; they just showed up one day. But I did read them because I loved reading. I fell in love with them. Then I spent the next ten years of my life waiting for the rest of the books to come out. I never went to any watch parties or anything, but we always reserved/preordered the books. I started joking with my mom that the series is really about what was supposed to happen to me because I have a scar on my forehead. A couple of days ago we were talking about how I got it and I swore I saw a bright green light and heard screaming. She wasn't amused. I was 12 when the 4th book came out. I snuck it to summer camp with me, against my mom's expressed wishes. I cried when the 7th book came out and I read the dedication because it was, in part, dedicated to me.
Each new book that came out, I read and read and read and finished in a couple of days. I don't think that people who start reading now really understand because they don't have to wait two years in between each book. They don't have to resort to speculation; they just pick up the next one. My eleven year old cousin is reading them and all I can do it shake my head at her because she just doesn't get it and takes them for granted in a way. Yeah, that totally sounds crazy, but Harry Potter has been over half of my life.
Jess said:
I received Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when I turned 10, from my uncle's then-girlfriend (now wife). I distinctly remember it; she purchased it from the Village Toy Shop, which I knew because it had a small sticker covering the price. I devoured the book within a day, and hopped on my family's first computer to see if there were more books. I found two websites (very bare bones by today's standards), one of which was the beginnings of the Harry Potter Lexicon. I heard rumors of a sequel, but it wasn't for sure. In the time between reading the first book and the release of the second, I read and reread the first book constantly. Something about the characters and the world J.K. Rowling constructed captured my attention. To this day I continue to reread the entire Harry Potter series at least once a year, often taking one of the shorter books on vacation as comfort reads. I'm also incredibly proud that neither of my copies of the Sorcerer's Stone and the Chamber of Secrets say "Book #" on the spine. (I was an original reader before Pottermania, I like to think.)
Jessi said:
September 22, 1999. I turned ten that day. My aunt was in town and she’s been one of my best friends since I was a little girl. For my birthday, I got a cassette tape of Britney Spears “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” and my aunt gave me a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone. God help me, but I was more excited about Britney Spears than Harry Potter. In all honesty, I wasn’t too thrilled about Harry Potter. This was before all the hype, and I really didn’t know too much about who this Harry kid was. Plus, at that age, fantasy books weren’t really my thing.
Hah. What did I know then?
Well, about a week later, I sat down with the book. I ate it up. And then ate it up again. And again. I loved Harry! Were there more books? I had to know. I went to school and we always had those Scholastic book order things, and I was big on those. I was so excited the day I saw Chamber of Secrets for sale! It’s been a love affair ever since. I bought the second and third books from the book order. I pre-ordered the fourth book, the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh, and I’ll be sure to pre-order anything else J.K. Rowling ever puts out.
I also decided to find out why people had not read Harry Potter or if there were any stories about that.

Stephany said:
I too have never read them. In all honesty, I don't know why I haven't. My friend Andrea is forcing me to read them. So, maybe someday!
Jen said:
I think I was in middle school when the Harry Potter craze began.  At first I didn't want to read the books because wizards and stuff like that didn't really interest me.  Then I think a couple more books came out and I just didn't want to give into the masses and I resisted the craze once again.  Then I felt that the books were hyped up so much that I was afraid of a letdown.  Now I'm a little more curious about the series...but unfortunately I've heard many spoilers so I don't think I'd be as engaged in the story since I kind of know what happens.  Lastly, I'm afraid of reading the books and not liking them.  I feel like I should read them and love them...but what if I don't?  Who knows, maybe one day I'll finally pick up the first book!
Jamie said:

I just wasn't into wizards or fantasy when they first came out. I started to read the first one and really liked it but I don't remember why I put it down. I just never picked it back up despite so many people telling me should. I think I've just felt like it would be as great as an experience for me because I wasn't young anymore. If you see our list of future Top Ten Tuesday's, you'll see one called "Top Ten Books I Resolve to Read in 2011" can bet HP is on the list for me. I need to see what I'm missing.

So what is your Harry Potter story? Have you ever read the books? Do you just watch the movies? Have you even heard of Harry Potter? (ha). I want to hear your stories, any and all (though I would like to keep the comments spoiler free, thanks)! As of this writing I am heading out to the midnight showing in a few hours and I am starting again to feel that anticipation that I've come to love... a new Harry Potter experience


  1. I read the first book when I 13? I made fun of my little sister for reading them, and I wanted to prove they were dumb. I failed...I got hooked, and I've been a Harry Potter nut since. I grew up with Harry, and I've read every book, went to the final book launch in Britain, dressed up as Luna, have a collectible wand, and a tiny little Hedwig tattoo on my hand.

    The books are something I will always treasure, far more than the movies, but I'll enjoy the flicks for pure entertainment :)

  2. All your memories are making me so sad that I missed out on these books growing up!! Hopefully they will still be as magical for me!

  3. I feel the same way Jamie! I wish I grew up with Harry too :-(

  4. As I am currently on a HP binge right now, this post came at the PERFECT time!

    I remember that the first time I read them in '99 I was 12 and I gobbled them up! I remember my friends and I would brag and compare how long it took us to read each book, as they got bigger and bigger. Back then, reading 700+ pages as a 12-year-old was a big deal! When the fourth book came out (the largest one at the time) I stayed up all night and wolfed it down in less than two days!

    Ah, memories. As I reread them now, I can appreciate not only the plot, but the literary quality as well. The HP series is a rare set of books that I'll never get tired of reading over and over!

  5. This was a really good idea to post! Even though I've never read Harry Potter, I do enjoy hearing peoples stories about them. I think I'm with Jamie though.. I'm afraid that if I read them, they won't be are magical because I didn't read them when I was younger. But, we can only read it and find out! Great post!

  6. I remember being introduced to the books when I was like in Middle School. And I read them all throughout High School. Wow..we go a long way back when it comes to Harry Potter. :)

  7. I didn't start the series until I started my junior year in university! I picked up the first book in August 2007, shortly before or just after Deathly Hallows came out (I remember it was still "new") and was immediately taken by the books. I think I finished them in October, having to wait to get my hands on Deathly Hallows, and then read them again during Christmas break.

  8. I remember having to read Harry Potter when I was nine for school. I really did not see what all the fuss was about. I read the first two books for school but never felt the urge to continue with the series. Fantasy just isn't my thing! However, I only know a few other people who didn't get sucked into the HP mania.

  9. OK, I started at age 27 I think. Book 5 was about to come out, so I went out and bought the first 4 books as a set. I read each book in a day, and my now husband read them right after me. I finished just in time to get my pre-ordered Book 5 in the mail - I was hooked instantly! I have re-read the series once since then (just before the final book came out) and will probably re-read again before the final movie next year.

  10. I just realized how much of a dummy I am because I never responded to Julia's email. SORRY :(

    I technically started reading them in college. When I was in third grade, my mom's co-worker had passed along the first book to me but I just couldn't get into it. I picked them up ten years later. I was amazed that I could end up loving them so much even though I was 18-19 years old, yet I still regret not going through with them before. I feel like I missed out on so much.

  11. I love the books! I've been reading them since I was twelve and last night, for the first time, hosted a release party complete with themed food, costumes, and a midnight showing. Check out my blog if you want to see my thoughts. I can't wait to read what you thought of the movie!

  12. How I have loved these books.
    I blogged it when the 1st trailer for Deathly Hallows came out.

  13. I tried reading the first book when it was still relatively new (sixth or seventh grade) and couldn't get into it. I couldn't understand why/how my friends were reading them.
    One of my younger brothers kept receiving the books for various holidays and one weekend when I was 15 or so, I had nothing better to do so I read the first four books and was hooked. To the point where of pre-ordering, midnight release parties and movie outings, and at 17 having Harry Potter bedsheets (only one pillowcase remains at this point).

  14. I think I was 8 when I read the first one, which would make it 1998 and it would have been out for about a year. I was at my aunts house and she showed me a book that she bought just because she liked the cover. She already read it and pretty much made me read it. I've always loved reading so she didn't have to convince me to read it. It was the first HP book and I couldn't put it down. I wouldn't even put it down to eat or go to the bathroom. I just got sucked into this world that J.K. created and never wanted to leave. I told my aunt that when the next one came out she has to buy it and let me read it first. After the second book my mom bought the first two and started pre-ordering the rest for me and then my life became re-reading Harry Potter and waiting for the next one to come out. I remember in middle school I ALWAYS got in trouble for reading Harry Potter in class, high school too. Damn I love those books...

  15. Oh no! I completely forgot about this post, I was supposed to send you my story about reading Harry Potter to add to this. I'm so sad I forgot! :(

  16. I started reading Harry Potter when I was 10, and the last one came out when I was 17. I really did grow up with Harry Potter. I remember when I first heard about the books I thought it sounded stupid, and then I picked up the first book. I've been hooked ever since. I even got to go to the midnight showing of the first movie. I loved going to the midnight book releases, I went to everyone of them starting with the 4th. I loved meeting all the people there and being part of all the excitement. I can still remember how it felt when the bookseller handed me the book. It was such an amazing feeling, that heavy thick book, the textured cover, so full of amazing things that I was about to read. I remember almost bursting into tears with excitement when I saw the trailer for the first movie for the first time. When the date for the last book release was announced I was so excited, but at the same time I didn't want it to end! So much of my life had involved Harry, I didn't know what it was going to be like when I didn't have more book released to look forward to. When I finished the last page of the past book, I sad grinning like an idiot and then started crying again, realizing that it really was all over.

    I went to the midnight showing the Deathly Hallows Part 1 last night and cheered and clapped along with the others in the theatre when the movie started. Definitely my favorite of the movies!

    There is just something about these books, not anything really specific I can put my finger on. It's just the feeling of the books, its so.... well, magical!

  17. Yay! Thanks for all of your stories!

    For those of you who feel like you missed out on something growing up with Harry, I am jealous of all of you, because you get to experience the magic for the first time. I really felt that with Mark Reads link I posted in the blog post. It was interesting to see how he felt as the series progressed from a children's story to so much more.

    You guys get the experience of reading the books as adults without the preconceived memories of childhood. I think that is an awesome experience in and of itself

  18. All these stories are amazing! I've loved growing up with Harry and the experience of waiting for the books was frustrating as well as a great memory. I really feel the urge to start rereading them all right now :)

  19. My cousin had bought me the first book a year or so after it first came out, but I was really into the Sweet Valley series at the time and I never read anything else, so the book sat on my shelf unread for a few years. I didn't pick it up until the fourth book had been out for a while. When I finally did read it, I was hooked.

    I just began rereading the series yesterday for the first time. I'm halfway through book 1 and I went out and bought books 2, 3, and 4 from a used book store today. :)

  20. Hello, you site is very funny he told me to cheer up .. Merry Christmas.

  21. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, may all your wishes come true!

  22. It`s really nice article. Thank u a lot

  23. I think I should re-read HP...

    1. If you're going to reread any series, Harry Potter is the one. :)


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