Monday, June 26, 2017

Harry Potter and the 20-Year Magic

Congratulations to all, and much gratitude to Jo Rowling for the Harry Potter books!

Twenty years seems . . . unreal?  I reluctantly joined the cult while participating in the logistics of moving and securing about A BILLYUN copies of Book Four. I recall the news reports of the throngs of people camped outside bookstores.

Son was freshly SIX years old at the time, which was CLEARLY too young, but his friends were all over the books and wee boy was feeling left out. I picked up a thoroughly-used copy of The Sorcerer's Stone and read some of it in secret.  As a man grown, I was just hoping for something tolerable.

What I read was. . . entrancing.

Wife and I started reading chapters aloud with Son nightly, just about immediately after.  We would each read two pages and pass it to the next person.  It didn't take long for a two-year-old Daughter to get jealous and start issuing terrorist demands, but she still had to wait a few years before she could start with Book One.

Reading these books became a calendar-warping event, because our dynamically screwy schedule left very few time windows where all of us were together and awake in the evenings. Sometimes I would be left behind, and would catch up at the beginning of the weekend so we'd all be in sync by eveningtime.  Other times, the suspense would cause addict behavior in the children and we'd have to lock up the current book until we were all together.

Daughter was best at circumventing the system; she would borrow the current book from friends at school and read ahead. Even after she grew old enough to read the current book at the same time as the rest of us, she still managed to sneak ahead thanks to friends and libraries and secret 2AM chapters.

The four of us were all emotionally wrecked by the last book, and as a unit resented the outside world for intruding on our feelings.

Reading these books with my family remains the single most satisfying thing I have done as a father, and I remain grateful for the opportunity.  All the discussions about the characters, their choices, their dilemmas and their failings - those have served our family well.

Daughter and I were each sorted into Gryffindor, and Son proudly wears his Hufflepuff tie to work. Wife maintains that she is a mom and a businesswoman without time for Pottermore, but I suspect her of secretly being a Ravenclaw.


Our first three Harry Potter books are in an advanced state of disrepair, sitting gingerly on our bookshelf.  The pages are largely loose-leaf.

Thankfully, each year brings another brilliant Illustrated edition by Jim Kay.  I encourage you to find/read/love these editions for yourselves.  

If you haven't read any because they are children's books, please don't let that stop you. They are HUMAN books, and as such are good for human-ing.