How Harry Potter Changed My World

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits wrote a personal post about the experiences and unexpected pleasures of reading through the entire Harry Potter series with four (out of six) of his kids:

That’s what Harry Potter was for me, with all the kids: a magical thread woven into the last 15+ years of my life, weaving me and each child together in unexpected, joyful ways. There have been lots of other experiences weaving us together — being part of a large family, traveling together, riding bikes and playing in the park, playing boardgames and werewolf, cooking together and spending time with other loved ones. Harry Potter was like all of that, except with wands.

It was 1999 and I was given the first Harry Potter book and told to start reading. She was getting ready to go out with me and was still finalizing her wardrobe and make-up. Thirty minutes later, I had finished a third of the book and I was hooked and my friend, a teacher and reading specialist, was smiling.

She knew well before everyone else how this story of a boy wizard was about to blow up. At that time, the most recent book in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, was about to be released. I had already devoured the first two books, but with this new one I savored it and it remains my favorite book and movie.

The movies were a gateway for my daughter to get into Harry Potter. She loved the movies, but had no real desire to read the books. Finally, she gave into the constant peer pressure and has read them countless times. She was also a chaser at her university’s quidditch team, so that tells you all you need to know about how Potter influenced her life.

These books hold such fond memories for me. With each new installment, I’d buy the book and the audio book. Start reading at a breakneck pace and when I was about halfway finished, I’d pop in the spoken-word Emmy-winning audiobook in the car and catch the bits and pieces I’d missed reading so damn fast.

With the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter upon us, it’s good to be reminded that J.K. Rowling’s books transformed publishing, fandom, and the rest of pop culture. Even famous writers who didn’t think it was for them realized the power of Potter.