Hey, remember about two months ago when I first brought up the idea of starting a book blog? Well, I finally did it. I officially launched Magic in the Margins last week, and in honor of the fact that I’m starting by reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I’m taking a trip down memory lane. Harry Potter memory lane, to be exact. Don’t know if anyone cares, but here are my memories of reading all 7 of the HP books:
By the time I started reading Harry Potter, the first three books had come out. My mom heard about these books on Oprah, and my dad bought them for me on Amazon. I remember so clearly the moment I finished reading the first book. I was sitting in the backseat of my parents’ car on the way home from visiting my grandma in Brooklyn. At that point in my life, it was the longest book I had ever read. I was so unbelievably proud of myself. I finished the next two books within the next few weeks or so. I have read the first three books more than any other in the series, so my experiences with them kind of blend into one another. However, I will never forget the feeling of entering that world for the first time. I started reading the series to the 7 year old I was babysitting last year. We got to about halfway through the 4th book before I left the job and his mom took over reading with him. He was a little young for the later books, but watching the look on his face as he discovered the magic of Hogwarts with Harry was absolutely priceless. I would give anything to be able to read the first Harry Potter book for the first time again. I know that last sentence didn’t really make sense, but you understand, right?
Summer between 6th and 7th grades.
This was my last summer going to day camp. One time we were on a trip to Black Beard’s Cove and we were talking about the big surprise in the book when someone on the good side dies. A girl in my group tried to convince me it was Hagrid and I got so upset that when I got home I flipped to the end of the book to make sure Hagrid was still alive. Spoiler alert, he was. I was significantly less heartbroken about the fate of Cedric Diggory than I was at the prospect of losing Hagrid. I also learned my lesson about reading ahead.
I also believe this was the first book that my siblings and I all tried to read at the same time. And by that, I mean the four of us were reading from the actual same copy of the book. I’m not entirely sure why we didn’t get more copies. Whatever. I had dibs, of course. Being the baby has some perks.
End of 8th grade.
This book happened to come out the same weekend that my soccer team went to Hershey, Pennsylvania for a tournament. The tournament ended up getting canceled because of the weather, but that didn’t stop my teammates and I from enjoying the chocolate-y goodness of Hershey Park. I knew that my HP book would be waiting for me when I got home. My teammate’s awesome mom got a copy from a local store and gave it away in a team raffle. Of course, the other nerds and I gathered around the girl who won and had a reading party in the hallway of our hotel. We probably only got through one chapter together, but it’s one of my fondest memories from my middle school soccer team.
When I got home and read the book on my own, I hated it at first. I was so disappointed by the story, by how angry Harry was, by how long the book was, by how much Umbridge sucked, and by the death of Sirius. The whole thing just kind of bummed me out. I didn’t even read it again until a few years later, and I think I appreciated it more reading it as a 16 year old than a 13 year old. I related much more to Harry’s teenage angst when I was going through it too.
Summer between 10th and 11th grades.
Remember my post that was basically about the summer I turned 16, in 2005? That was this summer. The day that my friends Arianna and Diana introduced me to those elusive “Boys of Summer ‘05” was the same day that the sixth HP book came out. I decided to be a real person and not bail on my friends to read a book. So I went swimming at my friend’s house. And I thought about going home to read the book. Then we tried and failed to get into Wedding Crashers, as three of the seven of us were only 15 and couldn’t see an R-rated movie. So we went to play Laser Tag and eat at IHOP instead. And the entire time I was trying to decide if I was having enough fun to risk my siblings taking claim of the book before I could. Finally my mom picked me up and brought me home. I remember this day as being the start of one of my most memorable summers. But I also remember this day as the first time I started and finished an HP book in about two days.
Summer after 12th grade.
This makes me sad to think about. The last book came out about a month after my high school graduation. I was feeling excited to be out of high school, scared to be going to college, nostalgic for my childhood, terrified of my impending adulthood. It was a weird time for me. And Harry, Ron, and Hermione were dealing with their last year at school too…even if they didn’t actually spend that year at Hogwarts. The end of that book signified so much more than the end of my favorite book series of all time. It signified the end of my childhood.
My friends and I had a Potter party on the day the book came out. We also went to Barnes & Noble to be there for the midnight release. None of us bought books that night as we had already preordered them on Amazon, but it was amazing to actually be there for it. We went to the same Barnes & Noble I have been to hundreds of times in my life. But this time was different. There was just something so special about a group of people coming together to celebrate something they all love. I ran into people from high school that night that I haven’t seen since. But that night we were all part of something bigger than ourselves. Going to the midnight release of the movies was never the same. There was something particularly special about the night the last book came out, and I’m glad my friends and I got to experience it together.
The next morning I got the book and finished it in less than 48 hours.
So, there you have it. Each of the Harry Potter books reminds me of a very specific time in my life. Do you have any Harry Potter related memories? Please share in the comments!
If you want to hear me ramble on even more about HP and eventually other books as well, please go check out Magic in the Margins. I’ll be posting there on Mondays and Wednesdays.