Okay, I fully admit it. I love Harry Potter. No, not in that sick sense where I would have a crush on a fictional character (although ask me later about my unhealthy obsession over Captain Jack Sparrow – aka Johnny Depp), but in the sense that I love the series of books by JK Rowling.
I have been an avid reader all my life. I thank my parents, particularly my mom, for this habit. I remember both my parents reading to my brother and me when we were little; always bedtime stories. Later, it would be the weekly Saturday trip to the local library where, every summer until high school, I would take part in their summer reading program. I can remember being dragged to the mall (before I liked to go shopping) and begging my parents to leave me at the bookstore (B. Dalton’s, remember them?) so I could read books while my mom or dad went shopping. I would spend my allowance on books and, eventually when I got my first job (babysitting), I would spend my earnings on books as well.
One of my earliest and fondest childhood memories was making my mom read “Fox in Socks” by Dr. Seuss. If you have ever read that book, it is quite the tongue-twister of a book. The little devil on my shoulder used to make my mom read it faster and faster each time, which would inevitably make her mix up her words. I fully appreciate the fact that she humored me now, as the last time I read the book was to my nephew on one of his sleepovers at our house quite a few years back. It was that same exact book, tattered and masking-taped together, that I read while he was cuddled up to me in bed. I love that book as much as I love the memories it invokes.
Why do I love reading so much? I am an admitted and full-fledged daydreamer. I have, what my parents probably said to me over and over again while growing up, an “overactive imagination.” I love reading stories and “seeing” in my mind the scene that is described to me in words or imagining exactly how a conversation occurs in the context of the book. I love the way a good book evokes a range of emotions, from angry to sad to happy to surprised and of being able to go through those emotions with every turn of a page. And when that last page is turned, I love the satisfaction of closing the back cover of the book and taking in the whole story while going through my mind what I loved (or hated — or both) about it.
Now, I love movies as well. However, if given the choice of movies and books, I’d probably choose to read. While I fully appreciate the art behind storytelling in making movies, there is still nothing like imagining it in my head. That’s why whenever I’ve seen a movie that’s been adapted from a book, I will always (okay, nine times out of ten) will inevitably say “The book was MUCH better than the movie!” There are just some things, like plays on words or abstract descriptions, that just can’t be translated literally into a film. And that is one of the things (if not, THE biggest thing) that I enjoy about reading.
Hubby and I started reading Harry Potter in 2000 at the recommendation of an older co-worker, who just happened to work in the Michigan Film Office. She knew that the two of us enjoyed reading and told us that the writing and the universe created in the series was really good. When hubby told me about her suggestion, my first thought was, “A children’s book? Why she would recommend a children’s book?” Nevertheless, we picked up a copy of the first book at the local Border’s store and, while driving around on an errand one Saturday, hubby opened to the first page (I was driving, by the way) and read aloud:
“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
I was hooked. We spent the rest of the weekend reading the book aloud; each reading a chapter at each turn. Both of us chuckled whenever we were described something particularly funny, excited when we read about the first quidditch game, sad whenever we were told about Harry’s parents, and incredibly amazed by the turn of events towards the end of the book. We went on to read the next book and part of the third book together.
Being the impatient one in the relationship, I went ahead and read book four that was just published that year in 2000. With the following books, I forced hubby to stand in line with me to get them on the days they were released (July 2003 in Border’s in Chicago and July 2005 at Meijer’s in Rochester Hills). After watching the “Goblet of Fire” movie in November 2005 (book five), hubby finally went back to reading the series; partly because we enjoyed to movie so much, but also because other (younger) cousins and I kept driving him insane about the the ending of book six and speculations about what would happen in book seven which was to be the last book in the series.
So it was this past Friday that we found ourselves once again in line (at Meijer’s in Royal Oak) before midnight to pick up “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Part of me wanted to rush home after purchasing the book and stay up all night reading as much as I can. The other part of me didn’t want to start it, because I just didn’t want to face the end of the series I’ve grown to love so much. Ultimately it was the third part of me that won out in the end: The one that was too frickin’ tired to stay up after having had such a long day. (Hey, I’m no longer that spring chicken that can stay up all night … I need my “beauty” sleep, after all.)
Instead it was the next morning that hubby opened up the book and again read me that first line:
“The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.”
And once again, I’m hooked. And as we are both now caught up with the Harry Potter series, we’re reading this book aloud. In many ways, reading it to each other invokes those same memories I have of constantly reading while I was growing up. To me, it’s such a fitting way to end the story of Harry Potter, a boy who is now all grown up, in the same way we began reading his story. Together.