Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling | Rating: ★★★★★
"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."
Let’s rewind to my childhood for a few moments. It’s a normal day except for one thing, instead of regular library time I’m at the Scholastic book fair, picking out various titles here and there that are expansions onto series I am familiar with (see: Captain Underpants, Junie B. Jones, Heartland and the Babysitters Club) when I turn and I see this little gem sitting on a display front and center.
Other kids my age are flocking around the display, pushing at each other to grab one of the many copies; giggling and eying the novel as though they want to devour it right then and there.
Making my way through the flock of children, I too reach the display. I skim through the novel momentarily (after all, I was only in grade three) and decide: huh. Wizards? WITCH CRAFT!! I’m totally in. I spare only a brief glance at my classmates still standing at the display, and then skip off (yes, literally skip) to my librarian so I can pay for what I’d found.
She was, of course, met with a certain level of eagerness that comes only to a child. It amused her, made her smile, to see my class eagerly grabbing up copies of a book in real and genuine interest.
That night, I remember picking up the book and admiring the cover. I thought it was very pretty and colorful and all throughout dinner and my homework time, I kept picking it up. Pick up, skim through it, sigh, sit it down and wait until the hour before bedtime that I could start reading it. Harry Potter, I decided, was a piece of art that couldn’t be looked away from.
(I think my mom wanted to throw it at me because I was paying far more attention to it than I was to anything else in the house.)
When I started to read it that night, I fell so deeply in love with it – even after only reading a small chunk of it – that I couldn’t stop talking about it. My friends at school, of course, were on the same kick as me and from that moment on I’ve never not loved Harry Potter or the wizarding world J.K. Rowling painted so clearly for us.
It felt almost impossible not to love the world; not to wish so highly it were a real place. My poor little heart was very, very sad that Hogwarts was in fact fictional and that I was not destined to be a witch in the way that Hermione ways.
That was over 15 years ago, now, and I still have my first copy of the novel on my bookshelf. It’s aging deeply and the cover and spine are falling apart but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it just yet. Or, you know, ever. Book hoarding is totally the new black, right?
Anyways. This story changed my life and has stuck with me ever since. It is and always will be one of my favorite series. Each year I set aside time to reread the series in its entirety and cannot help but to dive into a time when things were simpler and miss glimpses of my childhood that went hand-in-hand with Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
I grew up with these three, this trio of characters felt more real to me than some other events in my life – a sentiment that many in my generation will always, always agree with. You know them and that’s what makes a good book such: you feel for them as if they are real. When you’re younger, you don’t think much of it, but the more time passes by the more I feel truly, undeniably privileged to have such an extraordinary series in my life.
Harry Potter lead me into a path of more than one kind of magic and there’s nothing more important than having that spark in your childhood and never quite losing it. We didn’t know it at the time, but Harry Potter is a true modern day classic and is destined to go the way of Narnia and Oz.
I feel as though it’s silly to say this, yet I will regardless, every time I read these novels I notice something I hadn’t before. You can note exact moments which made your life different – how it helped you grow, how it helped inspire you and how you became deeper invested in Harry’s story.
Each experience in the Wizarding world parallels something from our world, making their experiences equal parts relatable and fantasy filled. It’s a gift, it’s magic, it’s fun and instantly engaging. Although this is fantasy, although this isn’t real life, J.K. Rowling makes us feel like we’re there and the vivid way in which she writes is truly marvelous; indescribable.
This is the book that started it all. This is the book that created a world wide phenomenon and changed a lot of children’s lives.
Although this is the shortest of the seven books, although it isn’t my favorite [of the series], I appreciate it greatly and will never tire of reading these worn out pages of pure magic.