Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997)
[Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Young Adult/Children’s/Magic]
“He’ll be famous – a legend – I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in future – there will be books written about Harry – every child in our world will know his name!”
I’ve been sitting on this review for days. I wrote one and it’s JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I could write a thesis on all the ways I love the Harry Potter series (to do: check with the Lit. Department if PhD can be done on HP). A brief blog post though, I just could not manage.
In any case, this is why the Guardian’s literary editor, Claire Armitstead, chose it for the list:
“Every now and then, a book comes along that is so influential you have to read it to be part of the modern world… It’s the fantasy sequence that made readers of a generation of children; it’s the cliffhanger that united adults and children, creating a new crossover market with an unprecedented reach. It is also a truly global phenomenon…”
And now all I can tell you is the following story, because no matter how much more I write, there is no way I can do justice to the magic of the Harry Potter books, or the lessons you learn from them, or the genius of the author, or how I make HP references to almost any everyday-life situation, and just OMG here it goes:
I discovered Harry Potter aged 10, at which point only the first four books had been published, so I guess that makes me part of that generation of children that Armitstead talks about. I read the fifth and sixth books the weeks they came out. The last book came out just before I turned 16, but I didn’t read it. It sat on my shelf gathering dust for five years. I finally read it aged 20. I read it in one sitting, finishing with an hour left til sunrise one April morning.
And then I cried.
I wept uncontrollably and sobbed hysterically until my eyes stung from the sun through my curtains.
By making that random, unceremonious decision to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that day I had unwittingly signed away my childhood.
I didn’t even get to say goodbye.
“I’m going to keep going until I succeed — or die. Don’t think I don’t know how this might end. I’ve known it for years.”