I was in third or fourth grade when I saw a book on my friend Jessica’s desk that looked mildly interesting. I had loved to read ever since I learned how about 5 years prior to this scene, but I don’t remember if at this point my mom chose my books for me, or I chose them on my own. I do remember going to one of Queens, New York’s many public library branches, and in subsequent years, East Meadow Public Library (also New York). In any case, Jessica’s mom had taken her to the book store, where she bought this book and it was her new favorite. So I decided I wanted to try it out too.
A few months later on my birthday, my wish was granted. My neighbor purchased the soft cover edition of Sorcerer’s Stone and presented it to me. This is the first book I remember devouring. I didn’t want to watch tv, or listen to my walkman. This became a pattern. My aunt used to go to a charitable auction and happened at one point to win the first three books in hardcover. I reread the first book, and began the second. What an epic adventure the Chamber of Secrets held! I read eagerly as Harry heard voices in the walls (and I couldn’t fall asleep because I was scared!) I loved to watch Harry’s friendship with Ron and Hermione grow. The Burrough became my dream home. I wanted nothing more than to be a witch spirited away on a candy apple red engine to a magical school of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
I read the third book twice, back to back.I didn’t understand it the first time I read it. There was no Voldemort, the time-traveling, the betrayal and suspicion. This book has steadfast become my favorite in the series and one I think about often. Doing a reread of the series now in my late twenties has been, as a writer, eye-opening. The pacing, the characterization (so many fully developed characters!!!!) As a reader, my heart breaks for the loss that so many characters have lived through, even before the fourth book even starts. Hagrid lost out on his education and therefore, a huge section of his adulthood was marred by a past that wasn’t even his. Harry lost his parents so young, and was raised by people who hated him. Ron’s family are such good people, who work hard, and have nothing (material… but they have everything like love, and hope, and family). Dobby shows the plight of those who are seen as less-than.
I am two chapters into the Goblet of Fire, so don’t mind my not mentioning books 4-7 yet. But I have already become misty-eyed remembering what is to come, and the devastating losses I will have to relive.