Today is Harry Potter's birthday. In reality, it is JK Rowling's birthday. I'm wishing a very, very happiest of birthdays to both, the Boy Who Lived and the wonderful woman who created him.
I can vividly remember when I was assigned to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I was eleven and in fifth-grade gifted classes and I was irritated that I had to read this fantasy nonsense, as someone who preferred realistic fiction ala Judy Blume. However, after reading the first chapter aloud in class (back when my teacher assumed Hagrid was the only British one, with his thickly written accent), I was hooked. I begged my grandparents to take me to the bookstore to buy my own copy of the novel and I finished it the next night.
If only then I knew this was child's play of my Harry Potter reading records (Hello, Order of the Phoenix, done in 14.5 hours). There was something magically hopeful about Harry and his world. It was the stuff of fantasy, but realistic enough to not completely turn me off. To this day, I'm not sure Hogwarts doesn't exist and maybe I'm just a run of the mill Muggle, living in quasi-ignorance.
This also stands out to me, because JK Rowling and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is what made me realize writing was what I wanted to do. It just made so much sense, it was something I hadn't thought of before reading the series. Really, it wasn't something I had thought of prior to hearing that JK (because we're on a first name/initial status at this point) started the series on a train, writing it on napkins. Clearly it wasn't fruitful at first shot, but it was life-changing. I wanted to change lives, too.
When I think of my childhood in terms of literature, two things stand out: Watership Down and Harry Potter. When thinking about the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in theaters, it makes me a little misty-eyed. In July 2011, my childhood is officially over (especially fitting, since I graduate from college in May 2011). It was also eerily appropriate when the novel was released the summer after I graduated high school, weeeeeird!
I cried when I watched the trailer. I got PISSED when I sat through nine hours of Twilight garbage and didn't get a Deathly Hallows trailer. I cried when I saw Eclipse a second time, mostly for the Deathly Hallows trailer. Every time I go to the movies, I'm a little sad if I don't see a Deathly Hallows trailer. I didn't even LIKE Deathly Hallows that much. It's the most bittersweet anticipation I've ever experienced.
Ranking the books is hard. It's hard and so easy at the same time. I love talking about the books with people and seeing how my favorites stack up to theirs. As it is:
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
However, after watching and rewatching the film adaptation of Half-Blood Prince, I might need to reread that and reassess my ranking.
It's a phenomenon. It's great literature. I'm sad to see it end. It has staying power. It's more than just a fad. It's the story of a generation, yet it is satisfying to all. How many stories can do this? Yes, I challenge you, Twihards. My mom could not get three pages into Twilight, but she finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and is hungry for more.
I'm sad to see this end, but I'm so happy it happened. Thank God, it did.
"Rocking at Hogwarts" by Harry and the Potters; 2003