Adult student enrolling in Hogwarts

Many years ago, my long-time friends the Driscolls gave me the first two books in the Harry Potter series. Give them a try, they said. All five family members were big Harry Potter fans, and they thought that I might enjoy the books.

I did give the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the U.K.), at least a half-hearted try. But after a couple of chapters, I put it aside. I’ve never been into the fantasy genre, and despite the legion of grown-up Harry Potter aficionados, I just couldn’t see what the big deal was all about.

Fast-forward to this week. It dawned on me that I’ve read rave comments about the Harry Potter series from favorite writers, ranging from Stephen King to Brené Brown, praising the stories and their insights on the human condition. I’ve also admired author J.K. Rowling for her down-to-earth demeanor and sense of social responsibility. So I posted on Facebook that I was thinking of giving Sorcerer’s Stone another try, and several friends share effusive praise for the books.

(Slight spoilers ahead…)

I’m now about 100 pages into Sorcerer’s Stone. Folks have cautioned me that it’s a little slow going at first, that the set-up takes a while to build, and that the story won’t start to sparkle until later in the book.

And yet, I already find it charming, engaging, and very, very clever. Of course, as someone steeped in workplace anti-bullying work, I couldn’t help but to pick up on the bullying themes in Harry’s life with the Dursley family. Now Harry is preparing to enter Hogwarts, and I’m excited for him. With Hagrid’s help, he is picking out his school supplies. Rowling captures beautifully the anticipation and nerves that go with starting a new school.

I haven’t read many fantasy or children’s books, but I can tell a great storyteller from an okay one, and this early foray into Harry Potter’s world is enough to show me that Rowling is a brilliant writer. Her ability to create vivid detail and her sense of empathy and humor come through from the start.

Being something of an Anglophile, I love the little references to London, including the Underground and Platform Nine and Three-Quarters at the King’s Cross rail station. As someone who has been around schools and public transportation all my adult life, maybe I’m already identifying with parts of the story!

On Facebook, one of my friends suggested that I suspend my grown up reader’s worldview and let the inner child in me enjoy the stories. The only problem is that I didn’t like to read fiction as a child. I emphatically preferred non-fiction, and my 11-year-old self would’ve rebelled at having to read the Harry Potter stories. Even today, I estimate that some 80 percent of my personal library is non-fiction.

No, mine is more a tale of arrested reading development. Call me a late bloomer, but it’s a twist that I’ve had to go deep into adulthood to be “ready” for the Harry Potter series.

It may take me another week to finish Sorcerer’s Stone, as lately, I haven’t been one to rush through novels and stories. But I’ve already got Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ready to go, so it appears that I am matriculating into Hogwarts as an adult student. Better late than never.

5 responses

  1. Happy to hear you are making a late in the game foray back into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I read the series when it first came out and enjoyed them emensely, however tired of her descriptions of quittich games and some of the other plot lines because at the time, they felt were slow to build (I won’t spoil it for you because you haven’t read that far). I am now reading the series outloud in character voice to my two children which allows me to really pay attention to the detail and the interweaving storylines. It is amazing to see how J.K. Rowling ties all these themes and characters together, even the quittich and the other plot development pieces mentioned earlier. Allowing the 11 year old David to thoroughly enjoy the books is a good idea, but I am pretty sure the grown-up David will enjoy them also. Happy reading and when you’re done you can celebrate with a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. It’s amazing to see the attention to detail put into the castle, Hogsmede and Diagon Alley.

    1. Hi Janene, thank you for writing! I’m delighted that your kids will be enjoying these stories with you, and I appreciate your encouraging me to dive into them as well.

      Over the years I’ve become much more patient with slower-to-develop plot lines in stories, so I think I should be fine with that occurring in Harry Potter. I’m looking forward to taking this reading journey!

  2. Hey Dave, thanks for the shout out to the Driscolls in your opening line! If you haven’t already, you should also check out the private investigator stories (set in London) by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling). Very clever murder mysteries with all of the great storytelling that is evident in the Harry Potter books. They are also similar in that there is a long buildup but then the last 150 pages just fly by!

    1. Hey Don, thanks for writing! I have the first Robert Galbraith book. I think I will make my way through Harry Potter, then move on to her next series at some point in the future!

  3. I read, and loved, these books as they were published and envy you the chance to experience them as new! The thing that always struck me was how creative and imaginative Rowling was in coming up with different ways to tell what is, basically, a very old story of good vs. evil. Have fun!

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