Friday, January 2, 2015

Why I Return to Harry Potter

When I tell people that I have read the Harry Potter books six times (the first book seven times), most are shocked that I would return to a series so many times. That equates to 43 books and over 25,000 pages (25, 479 to be exact). I'm shocked by those numbers myself. While those numbers are large, I never feel as if rereading the books is any sort of grand accomplishment. For me, rereading these books is a tradition. I return to them like I return to buying gifts at Christmas and eating pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. I return to them as an adult would return to their childhood home, just to take a peek back into their childhood even if it is a quick glimpse. Harry Potter, to me, is the same as returning to my elementary school or watching old home movies or eating a piece of pizza that tastes exactly like the kind from Chuckie Cheese where I had birthday parties often. I am filled with a sense of time travel that no Tardis will ever give me. In many ways the books are a key to my past. They are my very own pensieve. Each time I read I dip into a different memory, recalling my old self and my old perceptions. The books hold many pieces of me and in most cases I leave them a different person.
Books, in my opinion, are more than just simple words on a page. They are friends, experiences, and life lessons. They reveal truth to us in very subtle and unexpected ways. With them we learn new things and sometimes a book will raise more questions than answers, forcing us to look deeper into the text and deeper into our own lives. When I reread Harry Potter, it isn't only nostalgia that keeps me coming back. It is the sense that every time I return I will be gaining new insight not only in my life but into the text. Rereading forces me to notice different bits of dialogue that reveal character depth and allows me to notice foreshadowing which in turn reveals the brilliance of J.K. Rowling and helps me in my own writings. There is a lot to be gained from Harry Potter in terms of plot, mystery, character and setting for any writer.
Growing up with Harry always gave me a small sense of community. When I read about Harry visiting the Weasley house I was, and still am, reminded of family gatherings and nights spent with the youth group. The comradery provided a sense of relatability and provides a look back at childhood ethics similar to those found in the 1986 film Stand By Me. 
But I think what ultimately brings me back to Harry is my love of literature. Going back to analyze these books is such a treat and helps me when going to analyze other works of art. And I think Harry Potter provides this amazing element of story telling in that it raises more questions than it answers. The books continually force me to think critically and help me become a better critic, artist and writer. For that I am thankful!

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