So we’ll start with the confession.
I have never ever in my life read Harry Potter. I’ve visited bookshops with their own “closet under the stairs.” I’ve had people categorize me into a “house” without really knowing what it means. I’ve listened to people argue over whether it’s worth all the hubbub or not without having any sort of opinion because somehow I’ve managed to survive all this time with relatively few spoilers.
I knew there was a boy named Harry with glasses like a friend’s and a scar on his forehead. Also wizardry. Somebody named Voldemort and somebody named Dumbledore who doesn’t seem as gruff or grumpy as my beloved Gandalf. Something about a train station.
That’s about it. I know very little about the plot or any of the other characters.
It’s gotten to where I feel like I’m in a guilty sort of incognito. You don’t say you’re a fantasy addict getting a creative writing degree without having read Harry Potter. Or really knowing what it’s about. Most of my language professors at least mentioned the series. Several are clearly obsessed. My university literally had a Tolkien vs. Rowling class (do not compare the two with me). The declaration “I’ve never read Harry Potter” elicits gasps of disbelief and sometimes horror from my social circles.
Yeah, I’m used to that.
And for a long time, I just wasn’t interested. I blame the change in attitude on my first university creative writing teacher. She loved Harry Potter. And she was fabulous. One of my favorite teachers…
…okay, probably ever.
But about that time, I started to wonder What is it about Harry Potter? If it really was just a run-of-the-mill middle grade magic school trope magic story why did everybody love it? I’ve read a lot of books. And I’ve written a lot of words.
You don’t make it in this industry, not with that much popularity, unless you have something good.
And that was it.
I wanted to know what it was. I wanted to know the secret that made everybody love Harry Potter.
Shuffle down the road a while, and here we are. In unusual circumstances.
Some background on me you should know for the sake of this story:
I speak very poor tourist’s German. For a lot of reasons. My end-goal is entirely a selfish one. I want to read Cornelia Funke’s books before all my friends because they have to wait a year for the translation.
Yes, I’m evil and not ashamed to gloat. But studies are not going super well. Right now I’m going it alone.
And what would I happen to stumble across two days ago but Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen currently free on Audible? In English and German?
The time to read the book had come.
At first, I have to admit, I wasn’t super impressed (Don’t shoot me yet!). The writing felt…trite. The characters flat, like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Which is fine, I guess, for a children’s book, but not the kind of children’s book that makes me rant and rave with passion.
I continued to listen.
And then was introduced to Hagrid.
I’ll admit I liked him at first, but I didn’t know how much he was going to be involved. When he showed up a second time…I was hooked.
Presenting one gigantic man behaving like a homeless lunatic (with a perfect Cockney accent) breaking and entering with intent to kidnap an eleven-year-old wizard–only did anyone perhaps have a cup of tea?
Hagrid pulling a teakettle and an owl out of his gigantic coat. Hagrid presenting a cake he “might have” sat on. Hagrid not wanting to have emotional conversations and apologizing for losing his temper in a most magical and comical way. Hagrid with a sad backstory.
Yes. Want one of those, please.
I have no idea if I’m going to madly join the fandom when this is over, or if I’ll even like the book.
But Hagrid…he’s made it worth my effort so far.
So! I’m reading my way to Hogwarts, all!