“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
-C. S. Lewis
The door opened to my work space and one of the curators of our museum emerged at the top of the stairs. She walked down into our dungeon-like office and took a seat.
“I’m going to be out of the office tomorrow, so if you have any questions about that project just call me at home,” she said, tucking one foot under her. “I pre-ordered the newest Harry Potter novel and it should have arrived today. I plan on reading it all day tomorrow and am taking a personal day.”
“Uh, okay,” I said.
And I admit it, in that moment I judged Harry Potter fans.
Adult Harry Potter fans, specifically.
I’d never read the series and had no inclination to do so. Fantasy as a genre isn’t really my thing. I mean sure, I read The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Little White Horse was a favorite from childhood, but that was pretty much it.
I certainly thought all the hoopla surrounding the Harry Potter series was great as far as kids were concerned. The fact that massive numbers of kids were lining up for book signings with J. K. Rowling, gathering at bookstores for the release of a new book, and excitedly consuming each new installment gave hope that reading was still alive and well! Such excitement and pandemonium were usually only reserved for the new release of a highly anticipated film or video game these days.
But, that said, I didn’t really get all the adult fans. I mean, here was a museum curator with a PhD staying home and taking a personal day to read Harry Potter! That was just . . . weird.
But that was because I hadn’t yet read the series.
Or maybe, I was still too young. Or too snooty.
Because I’m a Hogwarts fan now myself. And sincerely ask forgiveness for wrongly judging adult readers of Harry Potter.
After multiple friends (who’s opinions about books I respect) recommended Harry Potter, I decided to finally give it a try. And I have to admit, that after the first book I was underwhelmed. I mean, it was enjoyable, but did I want to commit to six more books in this series? Hmmm, I wasn’t sure. I was encouraged to try one more book before giving up. That the full scope of the story could hardly be seen in book 1, so I did. And then it took off.
Today I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. And not only can I admit to loving the Harry Potter series, I can even admit to shedding a couple of tears. I only have one more book to go in the series and at once I’m excited to get it into my hands and sad, because I don’t want the journey to end too soon.
One thing that has added to the books have been that I’ve listened to them as audiobooks. I’ve listened to lots of audiobooks, but let me tell you, never has there been a narrator like Jim Dale. He is beyond fabulous and adds life to the characters within the story. I really can’t say I’ve enjoyed an audiobook more, and Jim Dale has a great deal to do with that.
I also appreciate the depth of the themes in Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling mentioned in her interview with Oprah that she processed the grief of the death of her mother as she wrote the series, and this is very evident. The theme of dealing with death, grief, and how one goes on after death are universal themes we can all relate with and are contained in every book. Also, of course, the epic battle of good vs. evil, love vs. hate, are always compelling themes.
The series has been inspiring to me personally. As a writer and lover of stories and words I’m impressed with the scope and overarching storyline. I’d really love to sit down and ask Rowling “how” she practically outlined the story. How much did she “know” from the beginning and how much came to her as she wrote? It has also sparked an intense desire to write fiction again myself.
I wrote fictional “novels” by the dozen growing up but after college the ideas seemed to dry up. My love for non-fiction grew instead and that has been where my focus has been for the past 10 years. I’ve been content with that until recently. And while no plot idea has lodged itself in my brain while stuck in traffic during a commute like the idea of Harry Potter did for Rowling, it has whet my desire to return to fiction.
And for that, Harry Potter, I thank you.