The Harry Potter series is one of my all time favorites. It has influenced my most recent years in ways that almost can’t be expressed, and I found it all by accident.
As part of my Jewish heritage, I am prohibited from working on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I was always taught that work included driving, shopping, cooking during the day, coloring, writing (how ghastly!) and computer work.
In lieu of any of those things, since most years I did not attend Temple on the High Holy Days, I wanted something productive, but not work to do, and so each year, I chose one or two books to read. I didn’t read as much then as I do now, and so on the High Holidays, my way to prayer was to sit quietly, contemplate G-d and the universe, and read a new book.
Right around when I was pregnant or when my son was born, my friend, another teacher, gave me to borrow, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I hadn’t heard the hype yet or at least it was at the beginning of its pop culture takeover, right around when librarians and teachers were discovering that boys actually liked reading if you gave them something interesting to read – a good policy for all genders.
So, I read it. I think it took less than the two days of Rosh Hashanah, and I needed the next one immediately. I joined legions of kids waiting on the hold list for the fourth book when it came out at the library.
In the interim, right after the seventh book came out, I discovered fan fiction, and then I was writing fan fiction and somehow started and became a group leader in an online community of a subfandom of Harry Potter called Daydverse. It was wonderful for the creative doors it opened up, but more importantly it brought me a group of friends of all ages and walks of life that I continue to be close to.
Harry Potter opened a new world for me, and showed me through the related tangents that I had different paths to pursue.
I am continuing to pursue them.
Like President Obama in this Entertainment Weekly article, I highly recommend the Harry Potter series to all age groups.
From the books, find the movies, and the careers of the actors; the actor who played Draco is now on one of our family’s favorite television shows, The CW’s The Flash. From there, check out JK Rowling’s Twitter. I have great admiration for her as a person, and she has a lot to say.
But always, always, always, begin with the books. The books are magical. You will cease to be a Muggle forever.