Saturday, September 15, 2012

My Harry Summer

Last summer was definitely my Summer of Harry, My Harry Summer, or the Summer I Officially Read All of the Harry Potter Books and Watched All the Harry Potter Films.  I haven't quite decided on a title.

Harry Potter wasn't something that necessarily appealed to me when it was released.  I readily admit that I prefer books where little British women sit around and say words like "propriety" and "amiable."  I had several friends read the books, watch the movies, and go to release parties, but I never caught up with the Harry mania. 

As I grew older, however, the appealing truth of these books started to resonate with me - the fact that these books weren't necessarily a fad - that they were made the stuff of classic literature and the appeal would never fade.  I decided I would use Amelia's nap time to my advantage and read the books this summer.

I joined the Pottermore community so I could read the books on my Nook (I was sorted into Hufflepuff - no surprise there), and started with the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  I loved it.

One of the first things I admired about these books was Rowling's style - the way you can almost see her wink at you as you read that first book.  Her style is just so delightfully tongue-in-cheek.  I love how her writing progresses and matures as the series itself matures - as Harry grows up.

I love that Rowling has the talent to pick your brain up and transport it to a place that she created.  Her universe is so vivid, real - and it's all hers (although you're welcome to visit).  I pictured Hogwarts before I saw any of the movies because of her wonderfully intricate descriptions.  When you read her books, all the amazing details of the wizarding world flood into your head like a dam breaking.  Some moments made me physically cringe (one of the reasons I avoided the series to begin with - I shiver at snakes!), but the overall story far outweighed the scary moments.

I really appreciated the characterizations.  After seven books, I felt like I actually knew some of the characters she created (and some of the characters, just like real life, surprised me!).  I love the arrogance of Harry, the neurotic tendencies of Hermione, the goofiness of Ron, the courage of Neville, the complexities of Dumbledore, the goodness of McGonagall, the humor of the Weasley family, and the sneakiness of Snape.  I literally sobbed at some of the moments in the book.  I am a softie when it comes to sad or emotionally moving moments in movies and books, but I was inconsolable at some moments in this series...to the point I had to put the book down and come back later.  I love books that make me empathize.

I love that Harry is my age - a child of the 90s.  (I didn't realize this until Harry's cousin Dudley got a VCR for Christmas.) I see parallels to this character who grew up when I grew up.  The shades of innocence and change that echo throughout adolescence are there - and they bring back my own memories of a childhood long gone.

The movies are truly fantastic, too.  I never find movies as good as their literary counterparts, but the Harry Potter movies are particularly well done.  The final few movies, especially, are downright brilliant.  The movies pick up on Rowling's progressive tone and do a great job with it.  The fact that the same three actors managed to do eight movies is quite remarkable, too.  I loved them.

I'm always a little sad when a good book series ends, and it was no different this time.  Most books consist of a handful of books, but after a seven-book and eight-movie investment, I definitely felt a little sad that my journey with Harry was over.  In the future, I'll look forward to some Harry Potter Weekends on ABC Family, a coupled with looking at some cute memes on Pinterest.  I highly recommend the series to anyone who wants a good read.  Harry Potter totally kicks the tail of any ultra-trendy series about vampires or post-apocalyptic society. 

I love books that feel like friends, and I feel like I've just found a whole new group of them who welcomed me with open arms.