10 Years of Harry Potter

**SPOILER WARNING**

(If there’s anyone left out there who doesn’t know the story)

My mom works in the media center at a middle school and she is always up on any new books or series for children or young adults. In the summer of 2001, we were in the Outer Banks for our annual beach trip. My mom gave me a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and said it was a really popular series and I’d probably like it. I’d heard of Harry Potter, vaguely, but I didn’t really know anything about it. I started reading the book and finished it quickly. I LOVED it. I was delighted by the characters and intrigued by the story. There’s a scene at the end of the book where Harry asks Dumbledore why Voldemort tried to kill him specifically and his parents were just casualties of that attempt. When Dumbledore says he couldn’t tell Harry now but that he’d find out someday, I was HOOKED. I made my mom go out to the store and get a copy of the next book – I couldn’t wait to get home from vacation, I wanted to continue with the story now! I was 21.

I read Chamber of Secrets while we were still in the Outer Banks and when we got home I tore through Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire. Prisoner of Azkaban became my favorite. I loved the stories about Harry’s parents’ friends, especially Sirius Black. He is my favorite character in the series. The 5th book wouldn’t be published for another 2 years and during that time, I dove into the Harry Potter fan community online. I kept up to date on all the latest news, I memorized the first 4 books, I preordered my copy of Order of the Phoenix and anxiously awaited its arrival.

I read Order of the Phoenix cover to cover (all 870 pages) in less than a day. I took one break (to sleep) and then sobbed my way through the end of the book the next morning. I was devastated to learn that Sirius, my favorite character, had died. Devastated. Order of the Phoenix now replaced Prisoner of Azkaban as my favorite book, though POA remains a close second. (Five years later, Bill wrote to Gary Oldman – who plays Sirius in the movies – and asked him to autograph a copy of OotP for me, which he did :))

At the end of January 2004, I launched my website: 12 Grimmauld Place. It was up and running for several years though I only maintained it for about a year and a half. I had an interest in web design/development and I used my interest in Harry Potter to teach myself web design. I then included that website in my resume and it helped me get my first job – the same job I have been at now for six and a half years.

I pre-ordered books 6 and 7 and read them cover to cover the instant they arrived at my door. I cried when Dumbledore died and when I turned the last page on the Deathly Hallows. After lending my copy of book 6 to my roommate after I had read it once and dying for her to give it back to me so I could re-read it, I refused to lend out my copy of book 7 🙂

I also aquired all of the audio books. Jim Dale is the narrator and he is fantastic. He does dozens of different voices for all of the different characters and you forget you’re listening to just one man speaking. I have them all on my iPod and I listen to them constantly. I also own the entire set of the books, in both hardback and paperback.

Over the years I saw all of the Harry Potter movies. I was extra critical of them all and by the time the 6th movie came out, I didn’t even go see it. I eventually did see it and I was unimpressed. Most of the movies are fiiiiine, but they aren’t even close to being as good as the books. You don’t really get into the story. You don’t get a good feeling for how complex the story is – how every tiny detail is so carefully thought out. And the characters are different…Ron isn’t as dumb in the books as he’s portrayed in the movies. Hermione isn’t quite as knowledgeable about the wizarding world in the books as she seems to be in the movies. And perhaps my biggest pet peeve was when extra characters were added to the movies and given lines important to the plot. Extra characters? Seriously? There are hundreds of characters in the series, there is no need for random extras. But I digress.

I’m now 31. I saw Deathly Hallows part 1 and I was delighted with how well it was done. In large part, they kept the story and the dialogue the same and in the same order. This past weekend, we went to see Deathly Hallows part 2 in the theater (the first HP movie I’d seen in the theater since Order of the Phoenix). It was wonderfully done. They tied up everything so well by incorporating scenes from previous movies in memory flashbacks and it brought tears to my eyes thinking that this is the end of such a wonderful story. On the way home, I thought about how I read the first book 10 years ago and now I’ve seen the last movie, and what a wonderful decade it’s been with Harry Potter in my life. And now I can’t wait to read the stories to my son.

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