July 31st is Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s birthday. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read all seven Harry Potter books, which is a yearly summer tradition for me.
I grew up with Harry Potter. I was too young to appreciate the first few books when they were published, but by the time Goblet of Fire hit the Costco bookshelves, I was a huge Potter fan. And unlike the Simpsons, the Harry Potter characters gradually shed their childish voices as they go through puberty and mature into adults.
J.K. Rowling’s writing is timeless. It’s amazing how beautifully she understands the complexities of grief when a beloved character dies, of Harry’s teenage angst, and of the magical power of love. Her world is so rich and carefully constructed that every re-read is a fresh adventure. Details in the first book resonate throughout the entire series, bringing Harry’s time at Hogwarts full circle.
Long before Pokemon Go sprung into being as an April Fool’s joke, the Harry Potter world provided the first augmented reality experience. Since there are wizards supposedly living in secret all around us, it’s possible for us Muggles to search our world for hints of magic, such as Platform 9 3/4 at London’s King’s Cross station or Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Massachusetts. I’m aching to visit Harry Potter World in Universal Studios, where non-magical folk can buy interactive wands and cast “spells.”
Outside of the books, I sometimes prefer reading tidbits of information J.K. Rowling releases about her beloved characters on Pottermore to watching the movies. It’s hard for me as a book fanatic to watch details stripped away and characters’ personalities altered in the films. I’m personally baffled by some of the choices the directors made with the plot. But I can’t deny that the actors in the movies look just how I pictured them in the books.
I can only dream of writing something that’s as funny, daring, and complex as Harry Potter. I’ve been immersed in the magical world for so long, I wish I could siphon out my memories of it (perhaps storing them in a Pensieve) and experience the books again as a first-time reader. Thankfully, I have the releases of Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts to look forward to in the coming months.
Happy Birthday, Harry. I’ll never forget what you taught me about friendship and bravery, and love and loyalty. Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus!