Monday, June 26, 2017

Good ol' J.K.

Like any other self-respecting eight-year-old, I went through a pretty intense Nancy Drew phase in elementary school. Nancy was smart and nosy–and she never got in trouble for it. She always solved the mystery, oftentimes helping her father in the process who was somehow still an attorney despite the fact that he was 1) an idiot and 2) breached attorney-client privilege, like, every other day. Sure, her boyfriend Ned was super boring and they never even made out or anything, but otherwise Nancy was pretty cool. I rarely ever left my school library without one of those bright yellow books tucked under my arm.

So when I happened upon a couple of books with a dark-haired, bespectacled boy on the cover while browsing T.J.Maxx with my grandmother one summer afternoon in 2000, I assumed they were like Nancy Drew–a series, but not one with an overarching storyline. Certain that I could sweet-talk my grandmother into buying me one, I chose the one I thought looked the most interesting (with the boy holding onto the tail-feathers of a large, red bird) and ran to find her.

I was, of course, successful (how can you say no to a kid asking for a book?) and excitedly showed my grandfather my new book as soon as we got home. He recognized the author's name from an article he'd read in the local newspaper that morning and retrieved it from the kitchen table.

"J.K. Rowling, creator of the magical world of Harry Potter, received an honorary doctorate Thursday for helping millions of children discover 'the pure joy of reading,'" he read. "Well, Mags, this lady seems like a pretty big deal."

He cut out the article and taped it to the inside cover of my new book, which, you might have guessed, was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I realized that same night that it was the second of a series that, unlike Nancy Drew, needed to be read in order. I don't remember when I managed to get my hands on a copy of the first book, but I know I didn't start reading Chamber of Secrets until I did. Life has quite literally never been the same.

I would be a fundamentally different person had I not read Harry Potter. It has been a huge part of my life, a defining trait of my personality, and a constant source of comfort since I found it seventeen years ago. I cannot even imagine the person I would be had I not fallen into J.K. Rowling's world and, honestly, I don't want to know. The story she created and the community it inspired literally changed the world. It certainly changed mine.

Here's to twenty years of magic, Jo. Thank you for everything.


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