I turned 23 on July 20, and just for this year, my birthday was an international holiday. Christina and I went to Potterpaloozza in Brookline before we went to get our books.
I had my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows finished by 7:00 PM on July 21st, and because I’m a complete nerd, I’ve since re-read the whole thing. I won’t spoil those who haven’t finished it yet except to say that I loved it and I think it’s my favorite of the HP books.
But I’m still a bit let down. This is really the end (well, except for the encyclopedia J.K. Rowling says is coming out eventually). Not only will we never have another Harry Potter book to anticipate again, but I have a hard time imagining any book that could cause people to unite the way the HP books do. What other book could cause concepts like the Sorting Hat to become so well-known in the mainstream, or inspire “Republicans for Voldemort” bumper stickers? What other book could lead people to stand in line at midnight dressed in costume? What other book could appeal to so many people—elementary school students and senior citizens, lifelong readers and people who’ve never read for fun in their lives, fantasy nerds and those who never read anything outside of fairy tales that had to do with magic? What piece of fiction could get so many people debating who would survive the last book or what side Snape was on?
It’s amazing, too, because I’d been afraid for a long time that reading for pleasure was a dying pastime. Books only tend to get widespread attention if Oprah’s involved (even better if you write a memoir of questionable authenticity) or if they’re written by a plagiarizing Harvard undergrad. When I worked at a pool, all the little kids would be bouncing off the walls when a new HP book was about to come out. I always used to get made fun of for reading when I was in elementary school. I wish Harry Potter had been around when I was little.
My parents were recently talking about how they remember seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, and were saying that there won’t ever be anything again that could be so universal, that everyone would be so obsessed with.
I said, “Yes, there is. And it’s even British.”