I vividly remember the moment when I discovered the series. I was in second grade and my teacher, Miss Tiffany, read the first chapter aloud to us at story time. Sitting on the scratchy rug next to Timmy, who later broke up with me so he could chase my friend around on the playground (that bitch), I was transported to a different world. That’s where I first heard about The Boy Who Lived. That’s where I first met Dumbledore. That’s where I first fell in love.
Lame, right? I sound lame. And maybe even a little unhinged. But as a seven-year-old, I hadn’t yet discovered how much I loved to read. How much I loved words. That very afternoon I asked my mom to get me “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” at the Book Fair. That’s when it all started.
Since that day in second grade, I’ve read all of the books countless times. I waited in line at book parties until midnight to get the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh installments, as well as the screenplay that must not be named. I stayed up for days, drinking Mountain Dew as fuel to finish each new book in one sitting — laughing with my favorite characters and crying over their deaths. I went to the movies and the parks and spent the absurd amount of money on shirts and wands and Butterbeer and treats. I got the Deathly Hallows tattoo behind my ear and I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that I have it since.
“Harry Potter” has absolutely changed, shaped, and been a part of my life for the past eighteen years. Which shocked me as I typed that, but it’s true. My love for “Harry Potter” has officially become legal. And I was late to the game. I was two years behind. On June 26, 1997, the first book in the series was published and our dark, muggle world was changed.
And the thing is, I’m not the exception. I’m the rule. Almost everyone who has read the books can agree — it becomes a part of you. A part of you that never leaves. So, in honor of the 20th anniversary, something pretty exciting is happening.
Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s website for all things HP, is hosting a book club.
Basically, the whole effing world is going to come together to reread (or read, if you’re new to the game) the books. Each week there’s going to be discussions on Twitter around plot points, themes, and characters.
In short: It’s any Ravenclaw’s dream come true, but all are welcome. Also, don’t worry. I’m about to get nerdier.
Now that you have the facts, it’s time to convince you. Maybe you read the books when you were younger but are thinking, “These are children’s stories. Sure, they were fun when I was in elementary school, but I’m an adult. I make bank. I want to buy a Range Rover. Why should I waste my time reading about some prepubescent kids?” Or maybe you’ve never read the books and feel like it’s too late. Besides, have you seen how big the later novels are? No thanks. You’re not going to waste the time you could have been staring at one of your many screens to read thousands of pages about wizards.
Except, well, you’re a fucking idiot if you don’t.
A year and a half ago my boyfriend and I (CTRL-F “boyfriend”) decided to reread all of the books together. This was fueled by watching the movies one hungover day and discussing plot points the films skipped over — one of the best things to do when you’ve read books that have turned into movies. You know, besides insisting that the book is better than the movie.
The point is, it took us eight months, but in that time I read all 1,084,170 words of all seven books aloud. I’m not saying this to brag. Okay, yeah. Actually, I am. But whatever.
Still, something pretty fucking amazing happened as we read them. We were just as engrossed, if not more so, in the characters, the plot, and the magical world as we were when we were kids. The last time I had read any of the books, I was a freshman in college and feeling painfully alone. I was sad to be away from home, in a dead relationship with my high school sweetheart (who wasn’t, actually, a sweetheart) and struggling. My boyfriend hadn’t read them since they came out. We figured it would be a fun way to spice up our relationship. And here you guys thought I didn’t know how to have fun?!
The funny part is, though, it might have been the coolest thing we’ve ever done together. Reading these books as an adult gave me more than I could have ever expected, and it taught me lessons I didn’t get when I was younger. Lessons I needed now. It showed light on the fact that our parents are getting older and will one day leave us. That no one is perfect, even the ones you idolize the most. It highlights family members walking out, and how you have to keep going despite your pain. Or that your relationship might combust in your face, but that’s no reason to give up. I had new favorite characters, like Professor McGonagall and Mrs. Weasley, and I saw my favorites, like Dumbledore and Sirius, in a new light.
I cried like a baby back bitch over the deaths, I laughed at the jokes, and I felt and imagined and experienced more when rereading those books than I had in a very, very long time.
So, whether or not you think I’m an idiot, I can’t express enough: Join the world as we dive back into the series and experience the magic again, 20 years later. There’s a reason this series defined our generation. There’s a reason the books have been translated in 68 languages, that the movies were the first to break up the final book in two parts, that lands in amusement parks have been dedicated to this world. There’s a reason children and adults alike turn to this series time and time again. It truly is magical. And, unfortunately for all of us, I can’t conclude this without saying, it’ll always be there to welcome us home.
Now, start reading, nerds. Because trust me, no one is too good for “Harry Potter.”.
Image via Instagram