I must confess something. This might come to some of you as surprise, but I’ve never read a single Harry Potter book before. Ever. I’ve also never seen a single one of the films in completion—Jessica, when we were together, convinced me twice to see the first movie after it came out on DVD and both times I fell asleep. I saw the three-headed dog and enough of the ending to learn that Snape wasn’t the one trying to kill Harry. I know. You’re all probably reeling right now. I’ll give you a moment.
Done? Okay. Let’s move on.
Now I didn’t not read Harry Potter (and, subsequently, not watch the movies) because of my “academic” background like my BFF (best frenemies forever), Eddie, has suggested several times. Like with Stephen King and Anne Rice (both writers whose works I’ve read, mine you), I decided in high school—two years before any college English professor could sully me with his bias on trendy lit—that I didn’t like the character.
Wizards? In the modern world? Without a ring of power and Hobbits? Please. No, thank you. Not even thank you. Just no. Get out of my room. How the fuck did you get in here, anyway? (At this point, I turn up the latest by Korn and start thrashing about my adolescent bedroom).
It took, however, two rather adorable Potter fans—one is Carol, my friend, and the other my coworker—to finally convince me to settle down and read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or, for you British readers and purists, …and the Philosopher’s Stone—which is something that I sincerely dislike about being American when the very notion of a philosopher’s stone befuddles so much that an entire plot device is renamed so our feeble little minds can comprehend it—though, I guess, in a pre-Google era (though, not really pre-), we couldn’t just Google that shit).
There was some resistance, I’ll admit. The book flows marvelously, so it was easy to lose track of the time. It took longer than I would like to have read it—two weeks, because I only read at home and not at work or when Shaun was here and, often times, I’d get distracted with other books (I have an Alex Lemon book of poems I have to review, as well)—but I enjoyed more than I did the first time I picked up a Harry Potter book and skimmed through it—a copy belonging to a rather obnoxious blonde freshmen girl who happened to be in the same theatre arts class as me (or I just hung out in her class because the teacher and I were tight and I didn’t like feeling like a loser in lunch as I had zero friends who shared the lunch period with me). “Peh,” said I. “This will never catch on in America.” That’s right. I completely ignored the growing Pottermania that was bursting at the seams outside.
The thing that disturbed me the most, however, is the complete disregard for the magic a book can hold. A few people, after learning that a Potter-disliker was diving into the first book because he finally wanted to know what the hell his friend and coworker were going on about, told me something similar, “I don’t know how you’ll feel about it. The whole magic is growing up with it.”
Every reader is far from being finished with “growing up.” And no book loses its magic with age. If it does, then the magic wasn’t there in the first place. It doesn’t matter if you’re 13, 30, or 98—if a book is “magical,” it should be magical for whatever age its current audience is.
So was Harry Potter magical to me? Yes. In a way. I’m not about to give myself to the church of J.K. Rowling or set up a match of Quidditch at the park with my friends and random Craigslist finds, but I’m willing to replace my saved books—books thrown into the recycling bin at work—with newer copies of the series.