“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
I will confess something to you that I don’t confess to many people. Since the age of 9, I’d walk home on a fall day with the leaves in reds, yellows and oranges scattered on the ground when a melody plays. A melody that I can only hear and one that fills me up with such a powerful emotion, so immediately, that it overwhelms me with a feelings of utter happiness. Why did this melody make me so happy? I was happy because it signified that a snowy white owl will swoop down at any moment and give me the thing I’ve always longed for. A letter inviting me to Hogwarts. I’m now 21 and in my last year of University. I have yet to receive this letter to the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry but I still hear that melody whenever I’m walking down a street on a quiet fall day hoping (praying!) that there’s an off chance this post-secondary student will get an invite regardless. That melody I spoke of is none other than the Harry Potter main theme (officially called Hedwig’s Theme) used throughout the films and what has introduced me to Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
I was first introduced to Harry Potter in November of 2001 where myself and the rest of the 4th Graders of Yorkwoods Public School went on a school trip to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in theaters. We were reading the first book in class (and by reading, I mean doing anything BUT read) in preparation for the films release. Throughout the movie, my little 9 year old heart pumped excitedly at the magic that was taking place on screen and I was determined to be my reality’s chosen one at any cost.
That was the start of my Potter adventure. I never did go back to reading the first one but I did go on to read the 2nd, 3rd and 4th books one right after the other. The 5th book was the first time I eagerly awaited a book’s release as well as the first time I pre-ordered a book online using my dad’s credit card. The 6th book was the first time I felt shock and huge loss for any literary character (and remains the same today). The 7th and final book was the most heart wrenching because it was the book that made me say goodbye to a series I loved so much.
To say the series saved my life would be a bit melodramatic given that I was in a position to be saved. The series did grant me access to my head and allowed me to create worlds and stories without any limits. I guess you could say that I owe Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling for my constant daydreaming as well as my love for the act of reading itself.
As I grew older and my memories of what happened within the pages began to fade, I started to admire J. K. Rowling as a writer and followed her to her adult books (The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling). I haven’t reread the series since the first go around but this coming January, I will join a group of Harry Potter fans to re read (or read it for the first time) the entire series until July. July feels like a natural stop not just because it’s the seventh month and we’re reading a seven book series but also because The Boy Who Lived was born on 31st of that month just like his creator: J. K. Rowling. It’s an added bonus that July happens to be my birthday as well.
I learned a lot from Harry Potter like the importance of friendship, death and the power of love. It’s no surprise that this series is so beloved and hopefully this re read will honor what it did for my childhood and what I hope it could bring to my adulthood. I’d love to read the first book for the first time now that years have past since that nightmare of a class reading. I wonder if I’ll change my mind that the coupling of Ginny and Harry won’t be as left field as I thought it was the first time. I wonder if the Prisoner of Azkaban will remain my favourite book in the series and if I’ll cry all over again at the end of the Half Blood Prince.
Most importantly, I want to know how much I’ve changed as a reader and how much has remained the same.
(Photo by alicecorley)
“I’m going to keep going until I succeed — or die. Don’t think I don’t know how this might end. I’ve known it for years.” – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows
A. A. Omer