February 5, 2015 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm
On this wonderful night, this Harry Potter Book Night I have decided to share with you how it came to be that I became a Potterhead. Believe it or not, once upon a time I did not like Harry Potter. This was, of course, before I’d even read it. That’s right, I didn’t like Harry Potter but I hadn’t even read it! Because this what a sane person does, innit?!
It was the year 2000 when I first heard about HP. I was in year 7, my first year at high school, and I had a penchant for hating things I’d never really tried. Mostly foods; fresh tomatoes and beetroot were high up on my list, both of which are now things I eat regularly. Are you starting to see a bit of a pattern here? I wish I could say I’ve outgrown this habit but from time to time I can see it creeping back in! I just remember thinking that this HP thing sounded a bit silly to me, with its wizards and witches and all that magic. What the hell did I know, I was 12 years old!
Then Christmas rolled around and I was about to get something I never expected. Lo and behold, my parents bought me Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone! I still have it, and you can see here where my parents wrote on the inside cover:
Needless to say, I was skeptical… Then, a magical thing happened. I read it and I was hooked! I begged my parents to buy me every other book in the series, and in early 2001 Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire joined my collection. I devoured them almost as quickly, and was disappointed to discover that the three more books to come were as yet unreleased. I had to content myself with rereading them over and over, and over again…
Fast forward to June 2003, I was 15 years old and I’d just started work. I remember it really clearly, I was devastated to hear that the Order of the Phoenix was being released on a Saturday, and I’d been rostered on to work. I lived in a small country town at the time, and the nearest bookstore was 30 minutes away but it would’ve closed (and sold out) by the time I knocked off work. And my parents were being really mean, they wouldn’t let me take the day off work to drive me to Wangaratta to the nearest bookstore. I mean, really! What’s up with that?!
Then, a lifeline. A new teacher that year at school was a major HP fan, and he set up a preorder for a number of students so we could get the book that day in town. The books would be delivered to the school, all we had to do was pick them up. I sorted out my preorder and while I was at work, mum was in charge of the collection. I got home from work around 4pm and started reading at 4:30pm. I laughed, I fumed, I stopped (briefly) for dinner and then I was right back at it! I finished Order of the Phoenix just after midnight, bawling my eyes out for reasons. It was like there’d been a death in the family. The next morning, I started it all over again a (slightly) slower pace 😀
Skip ahead to July 2005, and once again the release date was a Saturday. You guessed it, I had to work again! This time I was in my final year of high school, I was 17 years old and I decided that I would start work slightly late that day. My friends and I drove to Albury, a town an hour away, (well, a mum drove!) and we got there around 7am to wait (almost first!) in line outside the local Dymocks where we’d preordered our books. I looked particularly wonderful that day, very tired/shabby-chic, and hadn’t anticipated that we’d end up in The Border Mail (the regional newspaper) and on the local news. Well done me! At 8am, we grabbed our copy of Half-Blood Prince and headed back home. One friend started reading in the car, I can’t remember if the other two also did this but I know I didn’t. My reasoning was twofold: firstly, I didn’t want to start to book only to have to put it down to go to work and, perhaps most importantly, I get carsick. Let’s not risk it when there’s a precious new book in the car!
I got home, went to work, and suffered until 4pm AGAIN. My experience with Half-Blood Prince was very similar to Order of the Phoenix – I got home around 4pm and started reading at 4:30pm-ish. Once again I only stopped (briefly) for dinner, before getting stuck back into it. This time I finished around 11:50pm, and once again I was bawling my eyes out. Death in the family no. 2. Not happy! Of course, the next morning I was right back at it for my first reread!When Deathly Hallows was released in July 2007, I was 19 years old and in my second year of university. I wasn’t working at the time, and I’d just moved back in to my room on campus in Melbourne. This experience was by far the easiest of the lot! I ambled down to my local Borders in the morning after a bit of a sleep-in, which was a five minute walk to Lygon Street. I had preordered the book and picked it up fairly quickly, smirking gleefully at all the suckers waiting in line that hadn’t preordered. Tee hee! I knew the route back home so well that I started reading on my way, while I was walking… Yeah, not so smart; it’s one thing to do it from my parents’ house to my nonna’s house in small-town Australia when they lived next door to each other, it’s quite another thing to do it in inner-city Melbourne! By dinnertime, I was done. I bawled my eyes out at various time, more deaths in the family from the way I was behaving! And while I loved the ending, I was really sad that it had all finished.
So that’s my HP story and how I came to love it so much! And I haven’t even touched on the movies… I figure I’ll save that for another time, given that it’s Harry Potter Book Night 😀 Over the years, I’ve read the books countless times. In fact, I’m currently in the middle of my zillionth reread 🙂 My copies are all very worn out and starting to come apart; they’ve been well loved. The last three are all first editions, and I really don’t want any of them to deteriorate any further. I’m thinking it might be time to buy a new set, all hardcovers, and put this set somewhere safe where they won’t break apart any further. And so the journey continues!
How about you, when did you first read Harry Potter? Was your journey gradual like mine, or was it over a shorter period of time after the books had all been released?