My Journey with Harry Potter

July is Harry Potter Month with Faith at Student Spyglass (because duh, Harry’s birthday is in July!) Although a lot of people are doing this, I wanted to share what Harry Potter meant (and still MEANS) to me.

harry potter journey

 

I was eleven when I read the first Harry Potter book. I think they had been published a while before that, but that was the year they were translated to Afrikaans. At that stage I was still reading mostly in my home language.

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Me, age 11 (The same age as the Trio when I first met them!)

It wasn’t even my book – I hadn’t even heard of Harry Potter, but my best friend had received the first three books for her birthday, and she passed them on to me when she finished them. Oh, and her birthday was at the end of June, which means I started reading HP in July, WHICH MEANS THIS IS MY THIRTEEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF READING HARRY POTTER! A special month indeed.

So, anyway. I didn’t really think the books were going to be great. I don’t know why. But when I started reading I couldn’t stop. They were FANTASTIC! I’m a big scaredy-cat so I did sleep with the night light on a few times (Voldemort is scary, guys).

Something in these books enthralled me like no author since Roald Dahl had done. I had thought I was “too grown up” for magic and dragons and adventure (I was weird), but Harry Potter just turned all that around for me, and suddenly I was dreaming of playing quidditch and learning to do cool magic.

That year was a pretty quiet year for me. I was eleven and had no experience with bullies or loneliness. I had my small group of friends and I was happy. It had never occurred to me that who I was might not be “good enough” for some people.

But six months later, everything would change. My best friend emigrated and I had to find new friends. And I did find new friends – with THAT group of girls. You know the ones. The ones who can change your whole social life just because they like you. The ones who always have drama in their social circle. The ones who can ruin you as quickly as they “made” you.

It was a tumultuous year for me. Suddenly there were things like being “too nerdy” or “reading too much”. Suddenly teasing and bullying were more than just lectures in Life Skills.

But there was always Harry, Ron and Hermione. I thought of how they were tormented by Draco and his gang. And how they fought back. And how they were the kids I wanted to be like.

I’m not pretending that the HP books were my only saving grace, because I had a lot of other supporting factors; but I can’t deny the role these books played in my life. When the opportunity came to make a radical change and go to a completely different school for high school, I grabbed it. It felt like I was going off to Hogwarts. Everything was going to be different. Things were going to be magical. And they were. It was so scary to make that jump, but just like Harry, it changed my life forever. In a great way.

Oh, and then there was Hermione. Apart from Matilda, I had never read a character who was “like me”. But I connected with Hermione more (because I have great parents, unlike Matilda). The kid who annoys everyone by always having her hand up in class? The one who sounds a little know-it-all and bossy, and who will argue with the teachers when they are wrong? That was me. (Hah. Wish it still was.)

But Hermione was FIERCE, and I realised that I didn’t have to conform to the stereotype of the withdrawn and quiet nerd. I do believe that in Hermione, I found a fierce, brave, and loyal role model to emulate.

There is not a doubt in my mind that the Harry Potter books played a massive role in my childhood. I’m sure my kids will one day grow tired of listening to me gushing about it. But I think that when they are older, they will think fondly of Harry Potter the way I think of Grease, and Neil Diamond, and all the other things my parents love so much.

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22 thoughts on “My Journey with Harry Potter”

  1. Now you have me thinking it’s time to read HP again. I only started reading them while studying, and unlike you can’t recall the exact date, but they are great. I think I’ve read the series four times over the last decade and I still cry every time at Dumbledore’s funeral 😉

    1. Oh, I’m listening to the audio versions as a way of re-reading and I’m loving it! I have never re-read it though. Oh my gosh now you’re reminding me of what is to come… I don’t cry much in books, but I did cry at that!

  2. I met the trio at 11 too, but I only began reading at 13. I don’t know if I started reading in the month of July though. Wish I could 🙂

  3. Awww Megz this is such a lovely post! I’m so glad that HP helped you through some tough things and that you found strength in Hermione! She is such an amazing character and I refuse to believe she isn’t real. Emma Watson is PRETTY MUCH Hermione anyway! 🙂

    I loved reading this post. It’s so amazing to see what it is that makes Potter so special to everyone 🙂 xx

    1. Hah, have you read that Buzzfeed posts about all the things Emma Watson does that are similar to Hermione? I loved it!
      Thanks so much for stopping by! GOOOOOOO RAVENCLAW! 😛

  4. Aww lovely post! I think it’s absolutely amazing when a book can change a person’s life, and for the better too! It’s a different kind of magic from the one in HP’s life, but it’s just as powerful.

    I honestly can’t remember exactly when I started reading HP. I know I was in elementary school, so it had to be before I was twelve. But beyond that I don’t quite know. I just picked it up in the library one day and started reading it, being the nerd I was, and then got to feel like one of the cool kids when everyone else started reading it after me 😛

    I can’t say it had any huge impact on me though. I mean, I love the books and I’m sure it helped fuel my love for reading, but I never pulled from the stories in figuring out my own life. Probably would have helped if I did 😛

    1. Haha, well, I suppose we all have our books that impact our emotional life to some degree. I’m sure there are others that helped you a lot!
      Isn’t it nice being a book-hipster though, reading the cool books before they’re cool! 😛
      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Wow! How cool is it that you read HP at 11 years old AND that you started reading them in July at that!! And yeah I agree with you Voldemort is scary O.O one scene in book 7 (where he flies!!) had me drop the book and stop reading…cause it was dark out and I kept picturing that white face and red eyes flying by my window *shudders*

    Your right though that HP and the gang were the kids I wish I could have been growing up. I often wonder how much the series would have affected me if I’d read it at a younger age. I’m happy that you had Harry and Hermione and Ron though and that they helped you through the rough patches you went through growing up!

    This was a wonderful post Megz and I loved reading about how the HP books improved your life 😀 xx

  6. Happy Pottery anniversary! x) I’ve only started reading them this year. I wasn’t “allowed” to read them as a kid…god knows why. So I’m kind of relieving a childhood I didn’t have (that completely doesn’t make sense, but whatever XD) and I’m enjoying them 100%. I wish I’d grown up with them, but hey: no one can say Harry Potter is just for kids. I love them and I’m 20. Thanks for stopping by @ Notebook Sisters!

    1. Hah, thank you! You’re not the only person who wasn’t allowed to read them as a kid… I have a few friends who weren’t allowed to read them because of the whole “magic” thing. I’m actually posting about that whole phenomenon next week (not presuming to know why you weren’t allowed to read them, though).
      I’m so glad you’re enjoying them now, though!

  7. Love that you grew up with Harry Potter, and let the fierce Hermione and the wonderful friendships guide your own choices.
    I met Harry Potter in medical school, and when the third book came out, fell in love with the series. For me, the defining moment is at the end of book three when Harry realizes he can make a Patronus to protect himself–because he already has! Instead of being saved by his father, he saves himself. This still brings me to tears. Maybe because I read it at the same time I was learning to be independent (late bloomer, I am). I loved that Harry carried this incredible strength inside of himself, even if he was only able to access it after he already knew that he could. His knowledge of his own power allowed him to exercise his powers. And he grew into himself.

    1. What a striking defining moment! I don’t remember that moment so well, but I’m listening to the audio at the moment so I’ll pay special attention to that part.
      I think it’s really sweet that you started reading HP in med school. I can image what an effect that could have had, too. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I read Harry when I was 11 as well, and I didn’t know about it until a friend read it and would not shut up about it (kind of annoying until you read it yourself). I was immediately in love and spent the day reading the book.
    I used to love Matilda as well, and Pippi Longstocking, they were my love before Harry came along. I loved the magic and all and to this day I am still enthralled by it all, no matter the age 😀 I loved how Hermione was someone I could relate to as well, still is. 😀
    I used to hide the fact that I read and loved HP but now I cannot shut up about it XD

    1. Oh yes, Pippi Longstocking was another love of mine! As I’m listening to the HP audio, I realise that HP was not just a passing fad… it is still wonderful! (At one point I thought I had outgrown it.)

  9. Loved Roald Dahl. Thoroughly enjoyed all of his books. Harry Potter exposed my love for reading which I had been in denial about….cos–>nerdy<– and who wants to be called that! I remember at about the same age; late primary I would request Harry Potter books for gifts whenever family members wanted to buy me something. This was also the Dragon Ball Z era; I had two brothers and mostly boys for friends and thus had the duty of reciting and reenacting scenes from the previous day's episode. Couldn't have the excuse, "I was busy reading." The evenings were dedicated to Harry Potter which may not have been such a good idea. Mayne Harry Potter did save a part of my life; my reading and vocabulary life would have died had I not met Harry and the bunch. Hard times. Maybe that is one of the reasons our country doesn't read so much: nerd stigma. I don't know. Anyway thanx for the post 🙂

    1. I loved reading about your experience, thanks! Yeah, I think nerd stigma is the problem in more privileged situations, and then in the impoverished homes in our country people just don’t have as much access to books and they don’t even get to experience nerd-dom.

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