After much consideration and a spur-of-the-moment purchase of the first book in the series – even though I already have it – I decided to begin rereading Harry Potter (1997-2007) by J. K. Rowling. A copy of the new edition with the new cover caught my eye and since I had been thinking about rereading it for a while, I thought why not? And I can tell you it was the right decision.
I finished rereading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone a few days ago for probably about the third or fourth time and I still enjoyed it so much and whizzed through the chapters really quickly. I am now dying to continue rereading the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which I will most definitely be doing very soon.
A Lifetime Ambition
I think I enjoyed it so much because I haven’t read it since I properly realised how much I want to be a fiction author myself. My hope is that one day my writing will transport someone into a different world and introduce them to captivating characters. The Harry Potter world is one of the first fictional worlds that I really got into and it reminds me of growing up. I still remember my mum and sister going to see the film adaptation of the first book at the cinema and I didn’t go because I thought it looked too scary.
To me, J. K. Rowling is one of the most inspirational people in the world. Even with the amount of fame and fortune that has been brought to her through her books, which is so vast it is difficult to comprehend, she remains the person she was on a very important train journey in 1990…
“…I was travelling back to London on my own on a crowded train, and the idea of Harry Potter simply fell into my head” – J. K. Rowling on the beginnings of her inspiration.
…and she had no idea how much that idea would change her life. I watched a really interesting TV documentary about J. K. Rowling a while ago which includes a lot of interviews with the author, explaining how her own life influenced her books. It is called J. K. Rowling – A Year In The Life (2007) and it is available on YouTube so I definitely recommend giving it a watch. It highlights such important influences and provides an insight into how J. K. Rowling handled her rise to fame. It explores the tough times she has faced in her life and looks at how these bad times influenced her writing.
As I was reading the first book this time round, I was once again swept up in the magic but I was also thinking about how much imagination, planning, emotion and careful consideration was behind each and every word. It is truly an amazing achievement in writing.
A Magical Story
Since I am not even sure how many times I have now read this first book or how many times I have seen the film, I obviously know the storyline very well. But, it has been a long time since I read it and I enjoyed remembering all the fun magical elements and rereading the introductions to each of the characters as they begin to be developed.
Platform 9 ¾. The moment Diagon Alley is revealed to an astonished young wizard. The introduction of wizarding confectionary like Bertie Botts Every Flavour Bean. The way important and influential messages are delivered through the mouth of main characters, for example, the wise old Professor Dumbledore who offers many a philosophical phrase throughout this book. Everything is so typically Harry Potter that it just made me smile. If anything, my familiarity with the story enhanced my enjoyment yet further.
I really enjoyed all the characters since I have got to know them so well over time as well. It was interesting to go back to the beginning and reread Harry’s reactions to his gradual introduction into the Wizarding World. If you are a first time reader of this book it is as if you and Harry are on the same journey, however when rereading it, you already know all about the Wizarding World. You get to go back to a time when Harry didn’t know anything and experience the story as a knowledgeable reader.
Because of this, I think you pay even more attention to the details the second time round and since I can’t help but have the image of the film in my mind, it is really easy to get into the story again. Part of me would love to have one final chance to read the book without the memory of the film in my head, to see the story the way I would have imagined it on my own. But such things are not possible and I can’t deny that I absolutely love the films.
A Life of New Friends…and Enemies
There are so many brilliant characters introduced in the first Harry Potter book. I think one of the things that is so great about this story is the way it extends far beyond the main characters. We are not just reading Harry’s story, but the story of all the Hogwarts students and teachers, the story of the Wizarding World and the story of the muggle world. Nothing is left out. J. K. Rowling knows every little detail about her world.
Harry, Ron and Hermione are our heroes. I was actually surprised, when rereading the first book, how long it actually is until Harry and Ron finally let Hermione into their friendship. They only become proper friends after the troll incident but once they do it is such a wonderful friendship to read, especially when you already know how much there is to come for these characters in the future.
I liked reading the way each character is initially represented, for example, for half the book Hermione is very bossy and the boy’s find her quite irritating. I am interested to know whether a new reader of the book would foresee the friendship that grows between the three or whether it is unpredictable. It is clear from the start, however, that Hermione is not a malicious character, unlike Draco Malfoy.
This first book is such a brilliant introduction into such an intriguing and enjoyable world and I really cannot wait to get into rereading the second one!