Way back when, my very first experience with Harry Potter occurred when I was 4. My mom had bought the first book shortly after the first movie was released, and she decided to read it to me before bed each night.
I was instantly hooked. I love the story, and when I saw the movie afterwards, I was even more in love with this story about a boy wizard and his magic school (even if I did cover my eyes at the part where Quirrell unwraps his turban to reveal Voldemort). I thought I might even be a wizard, that I’d be getting a letter when I turned 11. Heck, my biggest fear as a kid was that Voldemort lived under my bed, waiting to Avada Kedavra me if my feet hung over the bed too far at night. I had to find out what happened next in Harry’s story, and my mom obliged me by reading me Chamber of Secrets next.
However, my mom is not someone who has ever liked reading very much. She’s been known to say she’s going to read a book, get through about 17 pages in a week, and then put it down, never to pick it up again (although it does tend to remain on our coffee table for years afterward). So when we got to Prisoner of Azkaban, she was a bit tired of reading, and we only got a few chapters in before she told me one night that she had read ahead in the book, thought it was too scary for me, and wasn’t going to finish it. She offered to keep reading me whatever Dr. Seuss books I wanted instead, much to my disappointment.
Now, at this time, it was a few years later and the POA movie had come out. I watched it, having not read the book yet, and realized it not only wasn’t scary, but it was the best installment of the Harry Potter series yet, and I had to read it. So, being in second grade, I went back to the book and read it myself. And as soon as I realized I could get through Harry Potter on my own, I was set for life.
I got through Goblet of Fire in the 2 weeks over my winter break that same year. We had these “book bags” in second grade, where we’d have to keep a log of all the books we’d read for fun, and I remember my second grade teacher not believing I read the whole thing over Christmas vacation. My mom had to come in and vouch for me, admitting that I read it because she was tired of reading the series herself. I quickly moved on to the fifth book in the series, which took me nearly two months to read, as it was so long. Yet, I was determined to finish.
I asked for the sixth book for my birthday that year and read it soon after, and by the time Deathly Hallows came out, I was one of those people standing in line at the bookstore on the day of its release, waiting to get my hands on a copy. I was 9 years old when the final book was released, and I reread the first six books that summer leading up to it. After that, I reread all the books every summer through the rest of elementary school and middle school. It was a mini tradition for me, and easily my favorite part of summer vacation each year.
By the time I got to high school, though, that tradition sort of fell by the wayside. I was busy with multiple summer reading books for AP English classes, and I had a job at a pool for most summers too. Right before senior year, I did try to make up for it by watching all the Harry Potter movies in a row with my best friend (it actually ended up being over the course of a week, as we realized watching all 8 straight through in one sitting would take us nearly 24 hours to complete). But even that isn’t the same as being engrossed with the books over the course of a month or two.
I’m 19 now, and while I’ve kept up with the fandom over time, watching the movies and looking at funny tumblr posts; painting pictures of owls (see below); even going to the Harry Potter World at Universal my junior year — but I’ve dearly missed those books and my summer tradition of rereading them. So, I decided that this year is going to be the year I do that again. I was 13 or 14 the last time I read them, and I’m so excited to go back to Hogwarts and see the series with fresh eyes now.
And I’m going to blog about my journey as well. Every couple of chapters or so, I’m going to post my thoughts about what’s going on or how I’m perceiving things differently. It’ll be a new outlook that hopefully gives me even more appreciation for this favorite childhood series of mine.
Because I also have a stockpile of other books I’d like to get through this summer, I want to save some time for reading other books. I created a mini calendar as a result of when I want to have each HP book finished by. I don’t know if I’ll stick to this calendar, but that’s going to be the goal.
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — Complete by May 8
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — Complete by May 12
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — Complete by May 17
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — Complete by May 24
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — Complete by June 7
- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince — Complete by June 16
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Complete by June 24
I’ll be starting the first book around May 4 or 5, as my classes for the semester finish up and I head into finals week. If you want to join me on this journey, feel free to, whether or not you follow along with my calendar as well. If not, my posts will be here, and you can all live vicariously through me as I travel back to Hogwarts this summer.
See you on Platform 9 and 3/4 next week.