You may have noticed that I haven’t posted any book reviews the last few weeks, despite having been off work for the summer and submitting my dissertation, meaning that I have had more time to read than I have done for a very long time. However, I made the decision that after a year of struggling through my Masters, it was time to reward myself by relaxing with my favourite books of all time – the Harry Potter series.
I’ve read these books over and over, but it’s been a good couple of years since I got the chance to become fully absorbed in them all over again, and I loved it. Every time I read them afresh, I discover parts of them I had forgotten. They still make me laugh and cry, and every time the spine crackles open in my now rather old and battered copies, I feel at home as soon as I begin to read the words written there. The thing I love about Harry Potter is it truly is like coming home; reading these books makes me feel safe, comforted and happy in a way that none of my other favourite books can quite match. I find myself savouring every word, almost feeling like I can taste them on my tongue, and marvelling all over again at how Rowling has weaved this remarkable world, and these incredible characters, in a way that has captured the imagination of not just myself, but millions and millions of people.
It seemed all the more appropriate to write this post considering the fact that three days ago, the 1st September, marked the date in which the epilogue took place and Albus Potter set off on the train to Hogwarts, leading us on the journey outlined in the fantastic play ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ (I was lucky enough to see the first installment, but have to wait until March for the second!). Harry Potter has always been a source of inspiration and comfort to me, and I saw elements of myself in many of the characters when I first bonded with these books in my first year of secondary school, a fat, shy, but certainly not stupid eleven year old who was bullied mercilessly right up until A-level years. These books comforted me then and have continued to do so at many difficult points in my life. I found myself in Hermione, with her love of books and learning; in Hagrid, with his no-holds-barred love of animals; in Luna, with her daydreamy nature and the teasing she suffered; in Neville and Tonks with their clumsiness; in Ginny, with her determination and stubbornness. I loved these characters from the first, and have continued to do so. The joy, sadness and nourishment offered by these books is something that I don’t feel can be matched, and is the reason why many of us still continue to think of Hogwarts as our true home, even once the series has ended.
I often regret that I did not discover these books sooner; they were published nearly ten years before I first turned the pages of Philosopher’s Stone. My relationship with Harry Potter has endured since then, however, and I know it will continue to do so – I am sure many more occasions will arise where I feel the need to turn back to these books, with the lessons they teach and the feelings they evoke. One day I hope my own children will find the same things in these books as I do, and that they will continue to inspire them as they have me.