I can draw a line in the sand in my history of reading: before and after Harry Potter.
It was 1998. I was 11 years old and I’d just gotten the first three Harry Potter books for Christmas. I was very excited because a neighbor had told me about them a couple months earlier and I was just aching to read them. I hadn’t been a big reader of fantasy and science fiction prior to this, but for some reason, J.K. Rowling’s books seemed somehow different.
And was I ever grateful that it was Christmas break. I started with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the rest was history. Each book took me a week or less to get through. When I finished with The Prisoner of Azkaban, I was hooked. When I realized I had to wait for the next book, I was disappointed and more than a little impatient. And so began the saga of Harry Potter. I’d wait or bated breath for two years until the next book come out, ten I’d rip through the pages only to wait impatiently until the next one came out. I felt as if I truly grew up with Harry, and in a sense, I did.
What I love about the books is its complexities. We start out as first years, a light hearted gander through the magical world of England, learning along with Harry. Then, as he gets older, we view the more complicated issues of the magical world – and ours.
After Harry Potter, I read Lord of the Rings, then Robert Jordan’s works, and much more recent, George R.R. Martin. But if I hadn’t read Harry Potter first, I probably wouldn’t have read any of it.
And this is where I give a lot of credit to J.K. Rowling. Not only has she given me an opening to a new magical world, she’s also my inspiration as a writer. Ever since I was a child, I’ve dreamed of becoming a writer. As with such dreams, when I grew older, people told me I needed to focus on a real job and have writing as a sideline hobby. Learning about Rowling’s struggles, about her success when she was dirt poor made me realize that if she can still write and become successful at where she was, then I can still continue to pursue my own creativity. I might not see it right away, but hard work will get me there eventually.
And that is why Harry Potter (and J.K. Rowling) will always have a soft spot in my heart.