Wednesday, September 7, 2011

4,101 pages later...

I think I always knew I would fall completely in love with the Harry Potter series once I started reading the books. I read the first two when I was in middle school and remember really enjoying them, even if they were a style of book I wouldn’t normally read. I don’t know why I never finished the series, but I know part of the reason was because of the dark magic displayed in the subsequent books that had all Christian parents in a tizzy. I was never banned from reading the books, but also didn’t much care to keep reading. So I stopped and even when the movies came out and more and more people extolled these books, I never had an interest in them.

I wasn’t tempted when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Orlando, a mere 90 minutes from me. I even visited Universal Studios a few months after it opened and was just happy the lines for all the other rides were shorter since everyone was hanging out in Harry Potter land. It wasn’t that I thought I was “better” than those who were obsessed with Harry Potter, but I was just indifferent to the whole series. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure it’s a fantastic series, I always thought. Just not for me.

And then Erin came up with a fantastic idea. (Fantastic for those who love Harry Potter, of course.) She formed an 11-week reading plan from the end of June to the beginning of September where a bunch of us would read through the series. Seven books. Over 4,000 pages. In eleven weeks. The Summer of Harry, she called it.

I thought she was crazy. I had seen the books. They were not your average young-adult literature novels. They were heavy and thick. And she wanted us to read them ALL in eleven weeks?

But since there was a good group of bloggers jumping on board with the idea and I knew Erin and others really wanted me to read the series and discover the magic (for lack of a better term) hidden beneath the covers, I joined in.

I had no idea what I had signed myself up for.

I had no idea the impact this series would have on my life.

I had no idea that I would become like Them. Dreaming of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Linking every day processes to what I have been reading about. Falling in love with the characters and this wizarding land J.K. Rowling had imagined. Watching the movies. Drooling over Rupert Grint. (Just me?)

And 4,101 pages later, I am a believer.

I don’t even know how to describe this series or the impact it has had on me. As a writer, I was utterly astounded and impressed by Rowling’s writing ability and imagination. Every book was packed with character development, incredible plot lines, and details upon details upon details. Rowling doesn’t write by accident and every nugget of information she drops has impact and meaning. (Which is why I’m really excited to reread this series to see all the clues I missed the first time around!)

I still haven’t been able to wrap my mind around everything that happened in these seven books. Tragedy. Triumph. Love. Hate. Angst. Humor. So many amazing characters and there is no way I can choose my favorite. Every character had a place in the book, a reason for being there. They all had their moments of victory and defeat. (Although, to be completely honest, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Ron.)

One of the best parts of reading this series were the Thursday night Twitter chats with a bunch of people reading right along with me. While I was the only one going through the series for the first time, I think it added a special something to it all, to have someone experiencing Harry Potter for the first time. Everyone else knew how everything plays out and how the series ends, but everything was brand-new for me. Being able to discuss and dissect the book with these people was so special for me. This isn’t the type of book series you can read lightly and move on from. Discussing it helped me to process all my emotions and everything that I felt while reading the books. Those Thursday night chats tied the entire #SummerofHarry experience together.

What happens now? Well, first, there is one last #SummerofHarry chat tonight. (10:00PM EST for anyone interested!) And then, I need to watch the movies. I’ve seen the first two (which were excellent, by the way) and I need to find some time to watch the remaining movies. Who’s up for a Harry Potter movie marathon?!

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