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!”
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!”
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.
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.