Hello fellow Scarlet Knights, welcome to a new semester! And as we all know, new semesters always equate to over-packed, stifling, “sure, please use my head as an elbow rest” Rutgers bus experiences. So while you find yourself packed in between complete strangers or straining to figure out proper footing so as not to fall over when the bus takes a sharp turn, enjoy this little piece of something I hold dearly to my heart (as you hold on dearly to that overhead pole).
You know how most people’s obsessions change constantly? Not mine, nope. I’m just always “Harry Potter”. The first shelf on my desk is ample proof of that.
Since I first picked up the The Philosopher’s Stone when I was six years olds, to now, at the ripe, old age of 20, I am still constantly in awe at the magic this series has brought to both my life and countless other lives around the world. The books in themselves are just pure magic. When I picked up the first book, I didn’t read it. I inhaled it. And that followed suit for the rest of the series. When the last book came out, (of course I had it pre-ordered), I left the midnight book release party at my local Barnes & Noble, locked myself up in my bedroom and devoured every page until the world as I knew it ended. At least Harry’s world. But that’s where the real magic is, the Harry Potter series never truly ended. Not only does it live on through the movies, through the theme parks, through even everyone’s favorite A Very Potter Musical, but it also lives on through the millions of Potterheads who won’t let the world turn a blind eye to their love and appreciation for the boy who lived and his adventures. Whether that means those individuals selling handmade Harry Potter themed gifts and goods on Etsy, or opening up Harry Potter themed bars and restaurants, or actually starting competitive Quidditch leagues in their colleges, or just simply passing down the books to their children, to their friends, to their siblings, Harry Potter will never be just a passing trend.
Just look at Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. Every October, this little town closes down entirely for a weekend and transforms itself into a world straight out of the Harry Potter books. It brings in Potters fans of all ages, providing everything from a Harry Potter pub crawl (that sells out within minutes) to film screenings to sorting hat demonstrations to Butterbeer and Pumpkin Pasties galore and even a Quidditch tournament. I was lucky enough to attend this past year with my friends and it was absolutely whimsical. It was also amazing to see people of literally all ages, from infants with lightning bolt scars drawn in on their foreheads to entire families, grandparents included, with witch hats and robes.
So why is this series so popular? Why has Harry Potter sold over 450 million books? Why has it inspired two giant theme parks? Why is it that I can get on a train to Williamsburg, New York, and eat at a Harry Potter inspired pasta restaurant? Why is it that my little brother, who would’t even read the back of a granola bar box before I convinced him to read Harry Potter, now is an avid reader? It’s simply because it’s magical. And that word means something different to every reader. To me, growing up, it meant knowing that finding a home in books was not weird or nerdy, thanks to Hermione Granger, the first strong, female literary character I was ever exposed to. It meant valuing friendship and family, and realizing that blood does not restrict who you love. It meant being kind, being accepting, and always doing the right thing, no matter what. And it still means those things to me. I bet it means those things, and much more, to everyone else who has had the pleasure of reading this series. And if you still haven’t read Harry Potter, better late than never, right?
Happy reading everyone, and happy spring semester!