Friday, June 29, 2012

My friend, Harry Potter

During my sophomore year of high school I decided to read the Harry Potter books for a second time.  I read the first three and then read the final four in July 2009 after seeing the sixth movie in theaters.  Then in September 2010 I read them a third time and in July 2011, when the final film was released, a fourth time.  The more I read them, the more Harry Potter went from books on a shelf to characters and worlds that were mine.  As strange as it sounds, the Harry Potter series has become a friend to me.  When I pick up the first book tears sting my eyes because it's as if I haven't seen this friend in so long.  When I read the last page I feel a sense of loss.  What now?  It is like I have lost a friend.  But that is the wonderful thing about books - they are always there to welcome you home.
Now it is almost July and suddenly I have the familiar urge to read Harry Potter once again.  It could be that July will be the first anniversary of the final film.  It could be that I watched the final film last night for a film class.  It could be that my friend is reading the first book for the first time and I'm super jealous!  Or it could be that my family is planning on visiting Oswego, NY for a weekend where I seem to read Harry Potter a lot! (Re-read the 3rd book there in 2007, finished the last book there in the summer of 2007, re-read the 4th book summer 2009, and re-read the 5th book there during fall break in my sophomore year of college!)  Wow, that's a lot of "it could's".  Oh, and one more.  It could be that I just bought an awesome Harry Potter shirt!

Needless to say, Harry Potter is a HUGE part of my life.  I've grown up with the books and went from seeing them as just a fantasy series to a series that teaches me to love, accept, and to realize.  That's pretty powerful stuff.  Most people seem to overlook the series for a number of reasons.  1. It's just for kids.  FALSE.  This series is for all ages!  As the story progresses it becomes so dark that it shys away from the kid label.  I hate labels.  People use them to define and stereotype.  2. They aren't scholarly.  FALSE!  Many themes I study as an English major are present in these books.  In a recent article, Suzanne Keen states that Harry Potter themes resemble those of Dickens and students who have read Potter are responding much more to Dickens than students who haven't read the series.  Another my school, we are constantly forced as English majors to become more aware of non-western literature.  Several of my professors are appalled at our lack of non-western knowledge.  Now this isn't a bad thing however, recently my African Folklore professor said he didn't bother reading the Harry Potter books.  His tone almost suggested that they were a waste of his time.  The street goes both ways here people!  And 3. I'll just watch the movies.  Face plant!  Seriously?  The films are good but they don't hold the magic and literary element of the books.  The films have become such an icon that scholars have come to overlook the series and not take it seriously!  People see Harry Potter as a money spinner, especially after the last film was split into two parts.  And the final film, Deathly Hallows Pt.2 which stands apart from all the others, didn't receive one award from the academy!  Not one!  That says a lot about today's culture.

While Harry Potter has the respect of many there are also those who say it's just a book and it's just something nerds and fan girls read.  I went from an obsessive teenager to a woman who now understands and Harry Potter played a huge part in this.  I am currently collecting all of the U.K. publishing's of the books (three different ones).  I also just submitted an application to record a podcast with Mugglenet Academia to discuss, hopefully, Christianity in the books and I plan to take avid notes when I re-read the books.  I can't wait!  Of course the seven books will go toward my 50 books of 2012 and I hope to read them sometime this summer before the fall semester begins.  I guess this is the English major coming out of me.  :)

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