>Back in 1998, when I was gifted the first ever Harry Potter book, JK Rowling’s wildly popular, billion-dollar series was still a budding phenomenon. I was only ten years old, yet captivated by Rowling’s fantastical world in ways I had yet to experience through reading. And so were hundreds of millions of other people, young and old alike. As the series became increasingly popular, I followed, avidly reading the next three installments. Somewhere between the fourth book’s publication in 2000, though, and the fifth book’s publication in 2003, I lost interest. The Goblet of Fire (no. 4) was a truly thrilling book, and Rowling’s longest to date, but maybe something happened between 12 and 15-years-old that diminished my enthusiasm for continuing on. I read the fifth book eventually, in a diluted sort of way, and had lost interest in the series for the next five years. My friends, I continued to notice, were still obsessed with the series and wouldn’t stop going on about the crazy developments of the sixth book, and then, a year later, the epic, unrivaled finale. Unfortunately, certain spoilers were revealed to me in regards to the sixth book, which you must know I hate quite much, yet my curiosity had been peaked once again. Still fully entrenched in my stubborn boycotting of literature that existed for far too many of my teenage years, I listened to the sixth book on tape, while working an office job during the summer of 2008. This experience did not give justice to Rowling’s increasingly masterful work. I had not been rejuvenated enough to commit to reading all 750 pages of the seventh book, and it remained that way for another three years. Throughout these years, I was ridiculed rather harshly for my failure to follow the status quo and read that final book. My friends in college would give me a hard time about it constantly. I often sat through conversation with my hands in my ears, talking to myself, while others discussed the seventh book’s plot. Mostly, I brought this absurdity on myself, as I had been known to proclaim to various groups that, “I still haven’t read the seventh book!”. Then everyone would moan, and start talking about it, and I’d have to leave. I was convinced I would never read that book, yet I took it to college my junior year, my senior year, and it came with me when I moved into my house in Philadelphia this summer. Once I started working, I casually decided to bring the book into work with me and “see what happens”. At lunch, I read the first few chapters and noticed a dramatic shift in tone. It had been 11 years (eleven!) since I had last read a Harry Potter book from cover to cover. In 2000, I read the Goblet of Fire, and had all but abandoned the series since then. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was it, the moment that I finally completed what I started over a decade ago.
The seventh book, needless to say, was brilliant and thoroughly engaging. What was so exciting for me, besides the story and Rowling’s prose, however, was the weight of years of anticipation, and countless recommendations and effusions of praise from basically every friend I had ever had. Seriously though, I’ve been friendly with a very diverse group of people since the year 2000, and the one thing that my friends from Lancaster, my friends from Vassar, my family and my acquaintances from all different groups—the one thing they agreed upon was that the joy of reading the seventh book could not fully be put into words. And of course, they were right (go figure that the one thing every single person I’ve ever known agreed upon turned out to be something I agreed with too). I won’t go into details about what I thought of the book, you’ve all read it probably two or three times more than me, but as someone who used to be just as obsessed with The Boy Who Lived as everyone else, and for some unknown reason gave up reading, I do have a rather unique experience with the series. I waited four years after the seventh book came out to finally read it, but it was worth the wait, even more meaningful in some ways to read it on my own, after everyone else in the world had enjoyed it over and over again. If you supported me throughout those years of incessant apathy, or condemned me for it: thank you. And thanks for not ever giving away any of the secrets…somehow parts of the penultimate book were spoiled for me in advance, but not a single special moment from the seventh book was revealed to me before I read it, and that’s exactly how I wanted it. The best part is, I no longer have to put my hands in my ears and talk to myself whenever the greatest literary and popular culture phenomenon of our generation is mentioned in conversation.