Harry.

As most of you know 20 years ago today a very special book was released. On the 16th June 1997 Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone was released and little did I know it would change my life forever. Now, I have to make a confession. While I am a huge Potterhead now with a huge collection and love for everything Potter related, I wasn’t in the first wave in 1997, you see I was born in 1994 and couldn’t quite read at the age of 3. It wasn’t until after the films came out I got interested. I was too scared to see the film (the clip of Fluffy terrified me) and thought that only boys liked it (oh how wrong I was), instead, I started reading the books. From that point on it never stopped.

For me this was more than a book. This was something I loved so, so deeply. I remember my first pre-order, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2003. I needed that book but as a 9 year old I asked my Mum if we could go and get it as soon as it opened and so I went to WHSmiths handed them my piece of paper and was given my new book with release day goodies. They were so precious to me that I never used them, they currently live at my Mum’s house. For a 9-year-old little girl that was a BIG book, but I got through, I just kept reading and reading. I did the same for Half-Blood Prince and again for Deathly Hallows.

I always loved Hermione, because I felt like I was reading about myself. She was smart, a little bossy and a little annoying but with a good heart. She had messy brown hair and big teeth, I could see Hermione as a friend. I loved Harry and Ron and later Ginny became a firm favourite too. With each film, I would eagerly await what would happen, even though I knew just to see the magic again. I was lucky enough to go to America to see the theme park not long after opening and to go to London for the studio tour a few years later.

These books, these words spoke to me. They were a place I could fall into, books I could read over and over again and just be transported. I wasn’t bullied, I was a witch as smart as Hermione, as brave as Harry, as lovely as Ron. They were like good friends to me. Even now I hear the theme music and get goosebumps because it means so much to me. I’m even getting emotional as I write this. Everyone who knows and loves me knows there are few things in life I love more than Potter, hell even my first car was called Harry! And even though Pottermore doesn’t agree I always have and always will be a Gryffindor.

As I get older I’ll continue reading, listening, watching. Any extra books or information I’ll greedily take because I care so much about that world, the world that Jo has created for us to enjoy. I’ll make my wand collection even bigger, continue collecting until I don’t have the room and continue to live the lessons that Harry and his world taught me. This was so much more than a set of books for me, it was a childhood, a love, a lifeline and happiness.

Here’s to another 20 years of magic.

Why I’m queuing up at Midnight for a book

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‘Hogwarts will always be here to welcome you home’

It’s no secret that I love books, I put release dates in my diary, I stay up way later than I should and always have a stack of books that are on my to be read pile. I’ve queued up for signings, met some of my favourite authors and collected like crazy, now I order subscription boxes too. BUT I have never been to a midnight release, you see very few books warrant it but this isn’t just some book, this is Harry Potter, someone who means as much to me as some real people.

I grew up reading these books, although back in 2001 I was a little late to the game because I was told Harry Potter was ‘for boys’ at some point (what rubbish) but it didn’t take long before I read the books and was hooked. By the time Order of the Phoenix came out when I was nine I begged my Mum to take me to get the book the morning it was released and then again with Half Blood Prince and finally with Deathly Hallows. I was only 11 when the final book was released (10 years ago!!) so I’d never gone to the midnight releases, but got there super early the next day.

There’s something about Harry that brings people together, that gave me comfort every summer when I read the books over and over, when I watched the films and felt the magic in front of my eyes and have a collection that spans more than 10 years now. I was lucky enough to visit The Wizarding World in Orlando when it first opened and then, later the Studio Tour in the UK. This is more than a set of books, this is the first fan obsession I found on my own and fell in love with.

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People have asked me why I would stay up until midnight just to pick up a book, but it’s more than that. There is a whole community of Potterheads who, from my experience, are the most loyal, kind and intelligent people I have ever spoken to. We talk, we debate and we welcome people from all walks of life. Hermione taught girls like me that we’re allowed to be smart and that it’s cool to be who we are instead of being like everyone else. Lupin hiding that he is a werewolf is linked to attitudes towards AIDs in the 1980s. The treatment of Muggle Borns by Voldemort and his followers is reminiscent of the treatment of Jews in world war two. There’s endless links to myths and legends as well as brilliant plot. Is it perfect? No, no book is but it meant something to so many people, and it still does. We’re seeing a day we thought would never come and although I’m slightly nervous about the plot, we get to see Harry 19 years later.

And that is just the start of why I’m queuing at midnight tonight.