Book 29: Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone

Book Title: Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone
Author: JK Rowling
Published: 1997
Pages: 223
Category: fiction: fantasy

The Harry Potter books are easily the most important books in my life. Because of them I have met wonderful people and had experiences that I never would have imagined before becoming a Potter Person.

That may seem like an exaggeration, but without Harry Potter I would not have made some of my best friendships, and without these books, I would not be as confident as I am today, nor as fearless when it comes to traveling. And I probably wouldn’t have gone to England for my first year of University.

I remember being in the backseat of my mum’s car, while my mum and her cousin traded stories about their daughters. We were both bookworms, and my mum’s cousin turned around and suggested I read The Harry Potter Books.

I bought Philosopher’s Stone in paperback, and with that first sentence, was enamoured.

Mr and Mrs Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. (pg 7)*

I finished reading it, and immediately went back to the bookstore to buy a box set of the first three books – the only ones out at the time. This was late in the summer of 1999, the summer before my grade 7 year of school. I never looked back.

For years now, before a new Harry Potter book release, or a movie release, I would re-read the entire series, to get a renewed sense of the words, to have everything fresh in my mind, and to read for things I thought would be important in the next book. It’s so odd to think that generations who are reading the books now, or in the future, don’t have the agony of waiting for the next book. Don’t have the luxury of years between novels to obsess over a few key lines, or what will happen next. These moments of joy, followed by years of waiting, are part of my experiences of the books, and are what led to a whole host of fan involvement, and the friendships I ultimately made.

So with the release of Deathly Hallows Part I in theatres at the end of the week, I set out to re-read the books once more, beginning with the book that started it all – Philosopher’s Stone. A book which taught me many things. There are lines I love, tried to live by, and yet that to some degree I have ignored others. Think on this one,

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. (157)

Dumbledore tells this to Harry as he sits in front of the Mirror of Erised, watching a family that he will never meet. The amount of time and energy I’ve put into my love of Harry Potter over the years, am I realy dwelling on dreams too much? Or is it okay, because parts of this experience is living? Through the Harry Potter books I’ve met many people, people who have become very important pieces of my real life. Through these books I grew into a braver person. Lived in England for a year, visited Toronto on my own, flew to Chicago, to St Louis, and traveled with other Potter People to San Francisco, Washington DC. I can link so many aspects of my life to that day when a book was suggested to me in a throwaway comment, driving in downtown Victoria one day in August.

Other great lines:

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. (221)

*Fun fact – I wrote that out from memory.

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2 Responses to Book 29: Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone

  1. rowenamarion says:

    I have so much trouble formulating my thoughts on these books, beyond a huge affection for everything Harry has influenced in my life. I really feel a lot like you: my life is totally better because of Harry Potter. It’s really, really weird to think about what my life would be without the influence of these books.

    And it so came down to chance. I got the first three novels as a gift, from my crazy-awesome Canadian aunt, and I was hooked. What if she’d gotten me a sweater for Christmas that year?

    Philosopher’s Stone is not my favorite book. When I got it, even, it was not my favorite. But I always describe it as one of my most important books. I was a reader before, but it was the first time I was a REPEAT reader. It introduced me to long form narratives, complex characters, interesting, imaginative worlds. And it opened the door for so much. It was a book i was handed at 10 or 11 years old, and it changed my feelings towards books.

    And so much that came after…

    Harry Potter played a significant role in my formative years…and again in my early adulthood. I’m grateful. more than anything else, I’m grateful.

    Philosopher’s stone is still a super great read. When I read it now, I imagine the voices I would use reading it to my future nieces and nephews, how kids who get really excited about HP today would have had their MIND BLOWN by some of the revelations in the books. And it always helps me to regard the world from a more childlike state again. I’m once again less jaded, and more able to see the “magic” in the everyday.

    So…we’re all watching DH part 2 together, right?

  2. Pippa says:

    I gave my little cousin Jade the Tales of Beedle the Bard for her birthday a year or so ago, I really loved reading the stories to her.

    And yes, Deathly Hallows Part 2. All of us together.

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