As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

November 23, 2010

Rebecca Garcia, on Growing up with HARRY POTTER

Guest Blogger, Rebecca Garcia, Student at NYU

Oh! Harry Potter.

If you know me for more than 2 hours, I’m sure you’ll figure out that I am manically obsessed with Harry Potter. Two teachers in two different schools called me “Mrs. Harry Potter.” When I heard the title of the 6th book, I ran around my house screaming with joy. The summer book seven of Harry Potter came out, I read nothing but Harry Potter that summer. I sometimes feel like I eat and breathe Harry Potter. Upon buying my copy of the final book, I nearly fainted with the excitement of it all. Needless to say, Harry Potter is very much loved in my world.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1)
I remember when I first saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was the new kid in town. I was kind of like the city slicker that just moved into a backwoods town, or at least, this is how I saw myself when I moved to Lawrence, MA and their very backwards school system. My teacher, Mrs. Gallo was obsessed with Harry Potter. She read us a chapter a day and had the first three books displayed on a table on her desk like they were venerated and holy objects. Harry Potter was the hear-all end-all for this woman. In this climate how could I avoid Harry Potter? You see . . . I could not. I was taken into the spell very early on in the fall of 1999 and I have yet to be disenchanted. It was love at first read, love at second read, and 11 years later, the magic is still going strong. 

I don’t know why I got so attached to Harry Potter. I went through a tough time at school and at home during my later childhood and most of my teen years. My one thing to do was read and who wouldn’t want to discover that they were really a magical person, that there was secretly a school waiting for them where they could perform amazing feats?

At the point where Harry Potter was introduced to me, it never occurred to me to say no to such a book, and thus my love for fantasy was born. When I moved back to New York City, I was still in love with Harry Potter. It was like I was a Harry Potter Evangelist. By the end of the 5th grade, I had convinced another teacher and at least two of my friends that they should read Harry Potter. I loved my copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, obtained for 5 dollars because of my teacher’s discount and read to the point where the cover wore off. The cover had to be duct taped on so that it would stay. This book was read to the point where it was in tatters and the pages were falling out. My older sister, who is as big of a reader as I am, read it also. 

At some point, my mom realized that Harry Potter was flying on a broomstick. Thus, my mother joined the hordes of evangelicals telling everyone that Harry Potter was “Of the Devil.” This . . . clearly put a cramp in my Harry Potter reading style. I think one of the worst days in my ten year old life was the day my mom told me I needed to throw away my beloved Harry Potter. Visions of me dumping my poor book in a trash receptacle on the corner filled my heart with crippling sorrow. There were even times when my book bag was searched. I warned all my teachers that if they cared, they would never tell my mom I was reading Harry Potter in school. I read it in libraries. I would hide myself in the bathroom and take 4 hour “baths” where I really was sitting on the rim of my bathtub, with my feet in hot water reading my beloved Harry Potter.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4)When Goblet of Fire came out, I was fast becoming friends with one of the librarians at my local branch. She promised me she would lend me the book (which I then read 4 times in a row). I will never forget the moment my parents discovered me reading it. I was scared out of my mind when my dad insisted that I stop reading (I was up to page 503) and then demanded that I describe what happened in the book. I still admire my own ability to talk about Harry Potter without saying the word “magic” once.

The 5th book of Harry Potter stands out in my mind as one of my first tastes of freedom. When I bought this book, I was allowed to venture to Barnes and Noble by myself to buy the book. I was riding the subway without a parent or a sibling . . . a very big deal for me at the tender age of 14.  The 6th book is one I managed to convince my mother (who was quoting Bible Verses at me the whole way . . .) to come buy it with me at midnight.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)When I bought the 7th book, there just seemed to be some kind of major Finality TO MY CHILDHOOD with the publishing of this book.

I’ve been known as a lover of Harry Potter for 11 years now. That’s more than half my life at this point. A game I like to play is that I’ll have someone read a few sentences from the Harry Potter books to me, and I’ll try to guess what chapter they’re in. I can guess the correct chapter with about 95 percent accuracy.

I love Harry Potter. Always have, and I always will. It saved me from dreariness, it also gave me one of my best friends in life (who I met because I questioned her about reading Harry Potter). I will always remember the first three Harry Potters on stands on a table like holy and venerated objects. I will remember sitting on the edge of a bathtub, reading Harry Potter. I will remember sneaking chapters of Harry Potter during class with my book under the table when I should have been reading school work. I will forever remember the delight of my soul upon opening a brand new Harry Potter that I have not read. I will always remember leaning to one side while my friend Dominga leaned to the other as we sat and read Harry Potter in different parts of the book.

So Viva La Harry Potter. Perhaps no other book series will ever live up to it. Perhaps no other author will ever warm my soul in the same way.

That’s okay. I’ll just keep rereading Harry Potter anyway.

A NOTE FROM BOOKSHOP TALK: Over the next month or so, we're going to have a weekly guest blogger talk about different aspects of the Harry Potter series. We would LOVE it if you would leave your own thoughts on the series by using the comment feature on this blog :) We're sure that there are at least a few of you out there who like Harry Potter as much as we do!


Amy Finnegan {} said...

I have to agree with you, Rebecca! Perhaps no other book series will ever be even as good as Harry Potter, let alone better.

And honestly, I don't think that I want another series to take its place.

Anonymous said...

I can't ever see the Harry Potter magic dying for me. I held off reading the books when they first came out because I didn't believe the hype about them. I was sure that nothing could be as amazing as people were saying (case in point: Twilight). When I finally caved, I was hooked from page one. I'll never go back to my pre-Potter self, and I wouldn't want to.

I'm currently reading Chamber of Secrets aloud to my mom!

Anonymous said...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the only book I have ever read and then immediately reread in the space of a week!

Anonymous said...

I think I have to agree with you. I'm very obsessed with Harry Potter. I refused to read it for years, though. One of my best friends eventually convinced me to read it. I'm more than happy that she did so. Since I read them all two years ago, I've read the whole series 7 times, and read books, 4 and 6 9 times. Book 7, is my favorite one of the whole series and I've read it 17 times.