On rereading Harry Potter 15 years later

I really enjoyed the Harry Potter books the first time I read them, so much so that they’ve remained on a top shelf ever since (top shelves are reserved for books I treasure; bottom shelves for books I love but am more relaxed about, so if my kids grab them and use them to make a fortress/unicorn/barricade, I can just about cope). What I didn’t realise, though, until this week was that top-shelf books just aren’t feeling the love like those in the sticky paws of my mini-mes.

My son tried watched the Harry Potter films when he turned five. He was sort-of interested, but mainly used each film as an opportunity to bombard me with questions. (I gave up, finally, when he asked, ‘Where’s R2D2?’) But then, last week, an HP renaissance occurred in our house. It began with me reading yet another book at bedtime that my son thought was great and I thought was really badly written. After seven nights on the trot reading a children’s book in which nothing remotely interesting happens, I snapped. And to illustrate what decent writing was like, I took down Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone from the shelf, and read him the first page.

Wow, what a difference! My son was hooked, and so was I. But I was surprised by how unfamiliar some of the text was. I’d totally forgotten, for example, that Dumbledore has a scar in the shape of the London Underground map on his knee (a detail my son thinks is hysterical). Then I realised, to my shame, that it had been more than fifteen years since I’d read this book.

Why had it sat for so long on that shelf? Why are those beside it – so many brilliant books I was once really passionate about – also languishing in dust?

HP gave me a kick up the derriere. I promised to read my son the entire series (I may regret that in a year when we’re only on Book 2 and my voice is a witchy croak). And I also made a promise to myself: to read the books I love to read.

Writer. Bibliophile. Bench+view lover. Aspiring cake baker (accomplished cake eater).
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