When I woke up this morning, I saw that one of my cousins had alerted me via Facebook to a very important anniversary:
Twenty (yes, 20) years ago today, the first Harry Potter book was published.
I know, half of you are probably rolling your eyes and getting ready to move on to the next website now (or possibly back to Facebook) because I mean, come on, it’s a book series about WIZARDS.
The other half of you, though, are nodding your heads very enthusiastically and in complete agreement with me that this is, in fact, an important anniversary. And on this very important day, I have a confession to make:
I was angry, nay furious, at my mom when she got me the first three Harry Potter books for my middle school graduation.
When many other kids were getting much more lavish gifts for the momentous occasion – I went to a school where there was a lot of money floating around – my mom had the audacity to get me three children’s books. I was going into HIGH SCHOOL. Did she not know I was going into HIGH SCHOOL? I was [clearly] an adult at that point. So, as you can imagine, the books made a beeline straight for my closet and sat there for a few months.
Then, one summer day, I don’t even know what happened, but I guess I decided that I should probably read at least one of the books so I could be a snotty teenager and render the verdict that they were certifiably horrible.
You know where this is going, though. Man plans, God laughs.
The books were amazing. They were more than amazing. There’s not even a word for what they were.
But you know, as amazing as they are and will be for any person reading them, I think I, and everyone else within a few years of my age, had something special when it comes to this series: we got to grow up with Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
Twenty years ago when the first book was published, I had just turned 11. (For those who are unfamiliar with the series, children start at the wizarding school when they are 11.) Granted, I did not start reading them until I was 14, and a book was not published every year, but the series evolved as I got older. Anyone who has read the books knows about this evolution. Book 1, The Sorcerer’s Stone, could probably be called a children’s book (or young adult at the very least), but by the time you are hitting book 5, Order of the Phoenix, it’s pretty clear that the kiddie gloves have come off and they’re not going back on any time soon.
Not only did I get to grow up with the characters in the books themselves, I also got to grow up with them in the movies. Reading and creating those pictures in your mind is obviously amazing because J.K. Rowling is an incredible author, but I also got to watch the world be created on the big screen AND get turned into an immersive theme park, which not to be punny, was something truly magical.
With both the book and the movies coming out interchangeably, there was always something to look forward to in the Harry Potter universe. Would it finally be revealed if Snape was good or evil in the next book? (This is the best reveal of the entire serious, in my humble opinion.) Who would they get to play Sirius Black in Prisoner of Azkaban? (As with the vast majority of the casting in the movies, Gary Oldman was perfect.) Are you going to the midnight book release party? (Yes, because my mom didn’t order 2 copies on Amazon so we could both read the book at the same time. One of us having to wait was obviously unacceptable.)
Here are just a few pictures of Harry Potter in my life over the years:
Heading to Hogwarts at King’s Cross in London
My Harry Potter Halloween party (made these decorations myself)
At the Harry Potter section of Universal on the day I got engaged
At my wedding with my best friend and maid of honor, Amanda:
(The photo at the top of this post is also from our wedding, showing our delightful Harry Potter cake topper. There would have been a lot more HP at the wedding, but I held back for Jason’s sake.)
Overall, the Harry Potter series has enriched my life in so many ways. It contains universal, serious themes, but at the same time, lets you escape to a beautiful world of fantasy. If you haven’t read the series, start now. You don’t have to be a kid or even a young adult to enjoy the books. Trust me, I have made many converts in my time, one even being a lawyer I used to work with who would call me from court when a Harry Potter related question would come to his mind. (True story.)
And I mean, come on, would this face ever steer you wrong?