As I’m sure the entire internet knows, this past Monday was the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. If you didn’t already know that, where’ve you been friend?? Like many millennials, I grew up with Harry Potter and remain a huge fan of everything Wizarding World related. In fact, I credit the series as being one of three main reasons why I became such a huge fan of reading.
I think the first few books were already out by the time my family and I started the series. I remember my mom reading the first couple books out loud to my brother and me. We’d always want just one more chapter before bed or before Mom gave her voice a break on long car rides. Once we were able to read them on our own, it was a waiting game between book releases and then as to who got to read the newest book next.
Actually, despite usually being away at camp whenever the next book in the series came out (I have no idea how that always seemed to happen since camp was never the same week each summer), I was always the first one in my family to read the newest book. My dad would go to a bookstore or Walmart in the morning on release day and pick up a copy and I would read it when I got back from camp, followed by Dad, Jared, and Mom. My cousin and I would do literally nothing else until we’d finished reading the newest book. Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read each book but they were my constant companions for at least 8 years. I’d leave them scattered around the house and just pick up and continue reading whichever book was closest to the room I was in.
I remember when the 6th book came out (again, the week my cousins and I were at camp), my cousin actually read the first 110 pages or so over someone’s shoulder. She had a cabin mate whose mother had mailed them the book midweek. Actually, I also distinctly remember locking myself in a bathroom so I could finish the 7th book because I was so close to the end and I didn’t want to be forced to put it down to eat dinner at the table with my family.
I think it’s a testament to JK Rowling’s imagination, creativity, and writing ability that she could inspire that kind of dedication in so many people. I’m sure those are fairly mild examples compared to some. Take all those who dressed up for the midnight movie premieres and book release parties, or those who wrote their own fan fiction with characters from the series, or every person who’s visited The Elephant House in Edinburgh, Scotland solely because it’s where Rowling penned the original drafts of the Harry Potter series. (Yes, I fall into that last category as well. I had quite a nice lunch there.)
I think that Rowling has managed to do what few authors have and that is to create a series that is so universally relatable and loved and spans every age group. The real legacy of the books–other than themselves, obviously–is the ongoing popularity. It’s been 10 years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book was released and 6 years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 movie and yet, the series remains as popular as ever. There’s been no waning of interest from the Potter fan base and honestly, as my peers are getting married and starting their own families, that popularity might even grow as they introduce their own children to the magical Wizarding World.
Granted, we’ve had a few reintroductions to the Wizarding World with the Broadway play and later, published screenplay, of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as well as the release of the first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film. But I also think those have done so well, in part, because fans weren’t ready to say goodbye to the characters and the world of magic. Harry Potter’s story was finished before we were.
To that I say, thank you, JK Rowling, for letting us into your world.