As it approaches Christmas every year, I get the overwhelming urge to open up my collection of Harry Potter novels. I think this is due, in part, to the festive feel of the first movie, in particular the opening soundtrack, Hedwig’s Theme, which reminds me of this time of year every time I hear it.
So why re-read? Many of my friends are baffled when I say I’ve read the series several times and will continue to do so. Simply put, the answer is that Harry Potter is the greatest story I’ve ever read.
Wow, I hear you all say. Ludicrous, cry others. But it really does have everything in it, from book 1 to 7 and over the course of my blog series, I hope my enthusiasm will rub off on all the muggles out there and each of you reading this will discover or rediscover the magic of Hogwarts.
So I read it again – what did I learn? Well, that’s the magic of it. Every time I re-read this book, I remember parts forgotten or storylines and character actions so subtle that I missed them in the first half-dozen reads. Isn’t that what we all love about our favourite books? I defy you to read this book again and find nothing new.
So what’s new this time?
Well, I discovered so much more depth to the dialogue than I ever interpreted before. Sure I’d read the words but with years more experience of life, a young family and a different job since my last read, I experienced something new, something alternative.
I experienced the novel from the viewpoint of a parent.
We all know the story – Harry loses his parents early on – for me, the thought of this is heartbreaking. But for the child, it makes me unable to breath thinking about it. And that immediately adds a new layer of depth to the story. How does Harry cope? How would my child cope in the same scenario?
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
Another profound line, again revealing new insight and meaning as we all age. I think the standout of this read through are moments like this, where as a teenager reading this the first time, I’d never have thought too much about it. Now, it is so pertinent and relevant to me, as an adult and a parent, that it has a deep-spanning impact.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
A classic line and life lesson for teenagers in particular, who find this aspect of friendship the hardest. But even as an adult, the lesson still rings with a familiar tone and I look within myself and think, do I do this? Even when they might not like what I have to say? And the answer, as it will be with many people, is not often enough.
“As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all – the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.”
Again, as we become older, both things are precious – money in our early adult life, then life when we mature. I’m sure that if it were possible, some would choose to use one to gain the other. And the words that JK Rowling penned in the late nineties still resonate now with the same people who had not a care for either of those items as they read the words for the first time.
Many see this first instalment as the most child-friendly of the series and in many ways this is true, but the beauty of the great books is that ever new reading provides new insight and is reflected by the reader at their current stage in life.
I firmly believe that when I re-read this book next time, in 5 or 10 years, or even sooner to my young daughter, that it will reveal yet more life lessons and depths as yet unfathomable to me at this stage in life. In no other series of books have I found the text to be so flexible and relevant to every single reader.
JK Rowling, I salute you and your ever-meaning words and stories.