A Grown-up Who Grew Up With Harry Potter

I was a junior in college when the first Harry Potter book was released. Needless to say, the series was not on my radar then, and it remained stealthily outside those bounds until I began substitute teaching after college. That’s when I first saw 12 and 13-year old children toting around the same book.

I finally asked, “What are you all reading?”

I got the definitive answer, “Oh! YOU HAVE GOT TO READ THESE BOOKS!”

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At the time, only Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets had been released. And, I admit that, as much of a reader as I was as a kid, I had just stepped out of a liberal arts degree reading required text for research and papers and my recreational reading habits had all but dissipated. But, because of the raving reviews of the pre-teens I was around all day, I headed to my local bookstore to see what these kids were so excited about. What happened next can only be described as, well, magical.

Burned in my multi-sensory memory to this day is the smell of the coffee shop and the taste of my vanilla steamed milk when I opened The Sorcerer’s Stone on a chilly fall morning for the first time. In one sitting, I read at least a quarter of the book, only stopping because I had to get to work on time. I read in the car at stop lights on the way to and from work and was done in one day. The next day I made my way back to the bookstore for The Chamber of Secrets (still my favorite) and I speedily read that as well. I had to wait EIGHT MONTHS for the next book.

I had never been the kid who liked fantasy, “but this isn’t REAL fantasy, “ I reasoned with myself, “This is, like, real –AND ALSO– fantasy.” These kids were so lucky! “WE NEVER HAD ANYTHING LIKE THIS,” I would tell them. We talked about the idea of spells and boarding schools. I told my captive audience of 7th and 8th graders about my fascination with boarding schools while I was growing up. “BUT I NEVER EVEN CONSIDERED MAGIC BOARDING SCHOOLS!”

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During the wait for The Prisoner of Azkaban (wait, maybe that is my favorite), I combed through the library and bookstore for recommendations to tide me over. I continued reading anything and everything, even fantasy, which had never been my cup of tea as a child, but somehow, J.K. Rowling had allowed me to appreciate even The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (all of them) and Madeleine L’Engle.  I was inspired by 12-year olds and I spread the word everywhere, to every adult I knew.

It is no exaggeration that Harry Potter is to thank for getting me started again reading for fun. Heck, somewhere in there, I found my dream job working for a bookstore. And now, like so many, I have fond memories of my time “growing up” with “the boy who lived,” even though I was introduced to him as an adult. So, as we ready ourselves for a small taste of that nostalgia once again, with the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I relish in the excitement of drinking strong coffee throughout the work day and gathering up my house-colors to prepare for another exciting and magical book release day.

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And, I hope to see you at Half Price Books on July 31! Check out our list of Midnight Release Parties at participating HPB locations.

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”
— Professor Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Becky works in the HPB Marketing Department and is a Ravenclaw with a tinge of Gryffindor envy. She loves Snape and always believed. Always.

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