Monday, July 25, 2011

On Harry Potter

I have known that I physically need to write a post on my feelings about Harry Potter for a long time. I have a draft of it, sitting out on the internet, but I was just never satisfied with it. I have no idea where to begin to express Harry and me, or even Joanne and me. Having since written and re-read this entry, I find it inadequate as well, but it does a little better than my other draft.

My fifth grade teacher read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to my class. I borrowed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone from my neighborhood friend after Mrs. Zachrison finished reading in class, so I was caught up on all the details of Harry's life. During all of this, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban had come out, so I borrowed that from my same neighborhood friend and was now in the same wonderful place as every person cooler than me who had heard about the series before I did. I ordered the next three books (four through six) online so I wouldn't have to do the midnight thing but would get them that day. When I was packing for college, I thought the first six books of the series would be really important to have with me, so I packed them and gave them a shelf in my limited dorm space. I re-read them all in preparation for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I went to the midnight book release on BYU campus with friends (dressed as a muggle) and read the whole thing that night, before my test the next morning at 10am.

During all of this the movies came out. I couldn't submit to that kind of slaughter of my favorite characters in my favorite world. As the release of the final installment of the movies was drawing near, I was invited to go with some friends and I had to admit I'd never seen a single movie. I watched all 7 in three days, then the last movie in theaters, at midnight, on the fourth day. It had been so long since I had read all of the books that I was detached enough from the movies to not be too offended by what parts of the stories were changed or left out. (except for the third movie . . . I find that movie truly offensive. So much was changed without reason! Arg!) I enjoyed the last movie but I realized it was probably more because I had only read the seventh book once and didn't remember many details. So, I read seven Harry Potter books in seven days to get back in touch with my roots.

It was interesting reading them as an English and editing student. J.K. Rowling uses more adverbs than anyone alive, I think. Her favorites seem to be shrilly and darkly. She was purposefully wordy at some parts. From any other author, in any other series, these two things alone would have driven me berserk. But it doesn't really matter to me, because I fell in love with these books long before I learned that adverbs are taboo and being wordy doesn't make you sound smart. I was trying to classify my passion for Harry Potter, as if I had to explain it to an outside observer. I wouldn't say I'm obsessed; I don't own Harry Potter paraphernalia, I've never dressed up as a Harry Potter character. I did have some wizard duels in 6th grade, and I'm sure I donned a robe to go to a themed party. So how do I convince someone that I'm a true fan, without all of these other outward expressions?

The best way I can think to describe it is like a pure love. Simple, unadulterated, pure. I hope in my life I can do something just as selfless and noble and loving as Harry or Hermione or Ron or Albus or Neville or any of the characters (Sirius, Severus, Lily, James, the list is as long as the books). Juvenile literature gets knocked because they make the good guys so good, but isn't that a glimpse of how wonderful the world could be if we tried to emulate our literary heroes? I don't remember clinging to these books in times of trouble in my youth, I know some people have stories about Hogwarts saving their lives because they were so alone and in such a dark place. I just loved them because they were so wonderful. Is that a good enough reason? Does that qualify me enough to be a super fan? I don't know . . . I don't know who decides these things either, but I hope whoever does comes across this blog post someday. These books are pure, and good, and right, and they're still some of my most favorite literature I've ever read. They're friendly and comforting and still make me cry every time because there isn't a place that draws me in further than Hogwarts and Britain and the wizarding world.