With the 20th anniversary of the UK release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone having just past last month, and today being the birthday of the titular character, Harry Potter, I want to discuss the magic that is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. As a 27-year-old, this book has been a part of my life for almost twenty years, and has shaped the adult I’ve grown up to be. This book entered the public consciousness at a significant time in my life, and ended up being life-changing for me.
When I was about 7, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Reading was very difficult for me and I didn’t like doing it. I had to go to after school sessions to help improve my reading abilities, and to a special room during tests to have them read to me, and when a teacher asked me to help another child with their reading homework I made up an excuse for why I couldn’t. Reading was a challenge I put off as much as possible.
All that changed in fifth grade when I found Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (as it was published in the US). At first, my mom would read me passages before bed, but after several nights of having the book read to me I was so intrigued by the story that I picked up the book for myself. I needed to know more and couldn’t wait for my mom to continue reading it to me; I had to read it for myself.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was the first book I ever read for pleasure. It made me fall in love with reading. This book was a huge catalyst in my life: before Harry Potter I hated reading, but after Harry Potter I loved reading.
I was so enamored by the first book that, immediately upon finishing it, I dragged my mom to the bookstore and made her buy me the second and third books, which I finished as soon as I could. It was agony waiting months for book four to come out, but that soon seemed quaint as I then had to wait three years for book five. As a 10-year-old, waiting three years for a book was excruciating. Book six thankfully wasn’t as long of a wait (although still way too long for my teenage self to handle), and I remember waiting in line at midnight at the bookstore – dressed in my high school graduation gown on which I placed a Ravenclaw house sticker – for book seven.
While the books took me from elementary school through high school graduation, the films took me from middle school through university. In summer 2011, I exited the theatre after watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and sat in my car for a good 15 minutes and cried. The series meant so much to me, and had been a part of my life for so long, that the series ending as I was ending university – meaning a huge chapter in my life was over – made me more emotional than I had anticipated.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is what made me fall in love with reading, it’s what made me fall in love with writing, and the film is what made me fall in love with film and filmmaking. I met my two best friends in high school because of a shared love of Harry Potter, and I met all of my friends now because Harry Potter made me want to become a writer. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone completely changed my life, and will always hold a special place in my heart.