Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am fascinated by Harry Potter. Harry Potter is an important part of my life for many reasons.
First and foremost, adolescent literature is my favorite genre. I am very well-read in many genres, but no other genre attacks social ills and problems like adolescent literature does. In some ways, the genre itself defines that necessity. Other genres allow you to dance around a topic and explore the fringes, but adolescent literature by nature has to attack the heart of the problem and attack it quickly. We are, after all, talking about teens here. I also enjoy adolescent literature for the length (generally a few hundred pages tops). There is something nice to being able to sit down to a short book and finish it in one sitting.
Back to Harry Potter….
I was quite anti-Harry Potter at one time. I wasn’t necessarily opposed to the books, but I was opposed to the mob mentality that surrounded the books. I do not like to follow the crowd simply to be “in,” and that is what Harry Potter felt like to me. I knew I would one day read them, but I wanted to make sure I read them on my timetable, not the mob’s. When I did finally read the first book, it was because of a class assignment. I was so enamored with it that I read the remaining four books (there were only five at the time) over the next three days. I then turned around and read them again over the following week. Since that time, I have read the first five around fifteen times, and the sixth around five. I’ve even gone so far as to read them out of order, in reverse order, and so on. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I even have multiple copies of each book: one for reading, one for display. Eventually, I hope to add the collector editions. And please don’t even ask about my wands (I have five).
So why Harry?
To be honest, I’m not really sure. Harry is a powerfully emotional character that is quite attractive to our souls. So is Hermoine and Ron. Among the three of them, it would be difficult for the average reader not to find a comparison. The supporting cast (Hagrid, Dumbledore, and so on) are also easily recognizable and, therefore, comfortable. Even the bad guys (Draco, Snape, and Voldemort) are familiar. But it goes much deeper than that.
I think Harry Potter calls to our own dreams and aspirations. Everyone who has never once even dreamed of being able to fly, do magic, or see a dragon please raise your hand. Thought so. But that can’t be it either, can it?
No, I think that the reason that Harry Potter called to me and to others is because it is a story of a little boy, an underdog, who is innately good. He is the purity and innocence of our own childhoods. I think most of us see in him what we see (or saw) in ourselves.
Perhaps, that is why I am personally so fond of adolescent literature in general: it is an escape from the present woes and frustrations of being an adult.
Oh yeah, and JK Rowling is a fantastic author.