During late September/early October, I was in the process of adjusting to a new busy schedule that did not allow that much time for reading. As a result, I was picking up new books and then having to put them down for several days. By the time I picked them back up again, I had lost track of where I was in the book. The result was I kept on starting up these books, but never finished them. The solution to my problem soon became obvious, it was time to embrace an old favorite.
Harry Potter of the Sorcerer’s Stone is the now infamous first book in the Harry Potter series. I first experienced the book at the age of thirteen after someone in my girl scout troop recommended the first two books (which were the only ones out at the time) to me. Thinking the name “Harry Potter” sounded dull and uninteresting (not to mention it reminded me of farming for some reason) I didn’t end up picking up the books until a few months later when I was on vacation with my family. I, like many, was captured by this amazing new world of a young English wizard, and I find that at twenty-four, I am no less enchanted by it.
Harry Potter, as most people know by now, is the story about a young orphaned boy living with his dismal Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, and spoiled cousin Dudley. Prospects look bad for our hero until he discovers that he is a wizard on his eleventh birthday. Not only is he a wizard, but a famous one, due to the fact that he survived an attack by the dark wizard Voldemort when he was just a baby, an event that led to Voldemort’s downfall. Before Harry realizes it, he’s whisked off Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where magic is very real, and oftentimes dangerous.
It was fascinating reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone again. Although I have read the book a handful of times since first picking it up at thirteen, it’s been a few years now since I’ve read it. I found that my perspective had been tainted a bit by the Harry Potter movies. For example, I forgot that the book doesn’t begin with Harry being dropped off at the Dursley’s, but with Uncle Vernon’s confusing day of work. The duller-than-dull businessman has no idea that Voldemort has been defeated, and finds himself baffled and angered by the strange activity of the celebrating wizards. It’s a very amusing chapter. Another thing I forgot about is how Harry does not see just his parents in the Mirror of Erised, but his whole family, a factor that gives the scene much more weight.
As someone that enjoys re-reading books that I first experienced in adolescence, I’m always fascinated at how the book seems to change as I get older. Just like when I first read the book, I found myself pulled into the magical world of Hogwarts. In this volume JK Rowling embraces traditional fantasy elements (such the wise old white-haired wizard, the orphan who has to save the day), and infuses them with her own special spark, and sense of humor. The result is something that connects with elements that fantasy fans hold dear, but it does not feel like an unoriginal rehashing of old stereotypes. Unlike, when I was thirteen, I think I ended up drawing more meaning from the Dursley chapters. There has always been an escapist element of the book, but I felt it more this time around. As an adult, it’s easy to feel stuck in the world of the Dursley’s, where eccentricity and differentness are scorned. Through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, like Harry, we’re able to escape into a world where such aspects are embraced. Here we met people, like Hagird, who look different or, like Dumbledore, act different, and that’s just fine. In Hogwarts, we find a place where magic is very real, and the normalcy of the Durlsey’s go-to-work and be-a-housewife lifestyle is absent. Although we learn in later volumes, that the wizard world has it’s own prejudices, it’s something nice to experience here.
I’m quite happy that I reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Like when I was thirteen, I found myself pulled into a very enjoyable little book. Unlike when I was thirteen, I know now that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and the later books promise even greater things.
Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 309 pages
TBR Pile: 135 books
Similar Books: For other books about magic and boarding schools, try A School for Sorcery by E. Rose Sabin, A College of Magics by Caroline Stevenmer, and A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Harry Potter fans may also enjoy Inkheart (my review) and The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, and Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landry, all which present young adults who are pulled out of their normal lives and into a magical one.
Other books I've read by this author: Harry Potter and the Camber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisioner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch through the Ages, The Tales of Beedle the Bard (my review)
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