Yes Virginia, I am a Harry Potter fan.

I recently discovered a great blog, Mark Reads Harry Potter, where the author is reviewing the HP books one chapter at a time as he reads them for the first time ever. It got me thinking about HP, and how I relate to books in general. I read a lot. Seriously, a lot. (If you’re on Goodreads I’m on there as jessimuhka) Books have always been a big part of my life, and what was going on in my life at the time is indelibly linked to the first time I read that particular book. Here’s a sample of that effect, and what Harry Potter means to me.

The HP series is something that broke me out of an incredibly childish way of dealing with pop culture. My feelings of being an outcast and never quite fitting in had led me to a way of thinking that was something like this:

– people suck
– people like Random Thing Z
– by the transitive property, Random Thing Z sucks

I was very opposed to reading HP, although I had seen the first movie, which I thought was alright. Then, the summer of 2002, College Boyfriend came back from a trip with a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for me. Honestly, I was kind of annoyed that he’d decided a book I’d expressly said I didn’t want to read was an appropriate gift, but if someone gives me a book, I read it. And I read it in an evening. I very clearly remember laying on my mattress on the floor of my first off campus apartment, and reading it in one sitting. Him, “So, you liked it?” Me, “It was less bad than expected.” Him, “You read the whole book in under 4 hours.” Me, “I’m a fast reader.” (I actually read most novels in one sitting, which is why I eventually had to make the decision to never start a book after 8PM. There are many times I have stayed up all night reading a book. Many, many, times.)

Some time passed, and I pestered him about the rest of the books. Eventually I checked Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire out from the library, and then when I loved them, picked up paperback copies from Target. Goblet of Fire was a particularly filthy large print edition that weighed approximately 18 pounds. It was annoying how often I had to turn the pages, but I finished it in record time.

Thus began my reluctant love affair with Harry Potter. I didn’t get Order of the Phoenix the day it came out. Instead, I picked it up at Costco that summer, just after moving in with College BF. And I sat on our only piece of furniture and read the whole book in one go starting at about 6PM. He had to wave a hand in front of my face to get me to hear him ask about dinner, which hadn’t happened to me in a long time. The ending destroyed me.

Half Blood Prince I actually went to the midnight release for, with my friend Megan. Some friends of hers were having a read aloud party right after they got the books, but I have no patience for reading aloud. I went straight home and was finishing the book just as the sun came up. And again, the ending was made of tears and WTF.

Deathly Hallows I just pre-ordered on Amazon. I’m getting a little old to wait until midnight for a book to come out, and oh yeah, had this thing called a day job. Of course, Amazon lost my order, and it took a few days for my book to show up. Somehow this cooled my desire to read it, and it sat on my bookshelf for ages. I think I didn’t want it to be over. Finally I got my act together and had half a day to devote to reading. Honestly, I don’t remember the book super well, probably because I blew through it too fast, wanting to know OMG, what happens, tell me now! (Patience is not my strong suit.) I was fairly satisfied with the ending, though I thought the epilogue was crap.

Actually, come to think of it, I think I need to read all the books again. The first Deathly Hallows movie comes out November 19. That’s plenty of time in which to go through the series, considering it will probably be difficult for me to stretch it out longer than a week. What about you guys? Harry Potter fans? Do you have memories of what was happening in your life when you read certain books? I want to know.

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