J.K. Rowling recently released a new short story on her Pottermore website, creating so much chaos that the site crashed almost immediately. The story takes place long after the end of the series, and concerns Harry and the gang as adults. This new tidbit already has lifelong fans asking for more material and information about their favorite characters. Diehard Harry Potter fans have never truly given up on the idea of more magical books from Rowling.
Even if we never hear from Harry and company again, the series means more to me than I ever imagined when I picked up Sorcerers’ Stone at age eight. This has turned out to be true for many Potter fans, including those who flocked to Pottermore to read the new story. The decision to read the first of the series when I was in third grade changed my entire life, in several ways:
1. I discovered the beautiful, private world that only book lovers are privy to: I had always loved reading, but this was an entirely different experience. I became so engrossed in the Potter world when I had those books in my hands that my mom became concerned. Some people never care about anything as much as I cared about those pages, and that’s a gift.
2. I can’t stress this enough: I was Hermione, and that became okay. And later on, that became fantastic. If it weren’t for Rowling, I could easily have given in to dumb crap and pretended to adore behaving like Lavender Brown, doomed to witlessness and blind materialism for the rest of my days. Instead, I now present myself as, first and foremost, someone who knows what she’s doing, someone who is proud of her abilities, and someone who will never, never apologize for being smarter than a male peer. (To the fellow Hermione’s of the world: You’re probably not being a bitch. You’re probably smarter than the person calling you that, and it’s all he can think to say.)
3. I found a loophole for loneliness: In my opinion, there is no faster cure for feeling truly alone than the company of a book you love. These days, I have a much larger list of favorite books that will do the trick, but nothing beats Hogwarts when your specific reality is letting you down.
4. I learned something vital about every kind of relationship. It is thanks to Rowling that at a pretty young age, I knew what I wanted from people, and I recognized important traits in those around me. I bonded with teachers because they were the McGonagalls and Dumbledores of my adolescence. I avoided people who made me as uneasy as Lucius made Harry. I cherished the people with Dobby-esque loyalty. I gave Snapes a second chance (I knew he was on our team the whole time- seriously). And, most importantly, I found a best friend who is, to this day, the Ron to my Harry. Jealous?
5. I decided my life would be filled with reading and writing, no matter what. Fellow English students will understand how increasingly non-lucrative it can be to decide to major in words. I am lucky enough to have a supportive family who understood when I said, “Books are the thing I love most in the world. If that isn’t my focus, what is the point of spending all this money?” Will I struggle to pay off loans for a bit? Definitely. Would I have traded four years of exploring literature and learning to write for something non-magical that may buy me a big house? Never. The passion I feel for that subject, as well as the bravery (some may say foolishness) to try to make it my career, is based entirely on the work of J.K. Rowling.
And I could really never thank her enough.