I have a confession to make. Despite being 17 (18 in December) I only read the Harry Potter books last year – cue gasps of shock and disgust. I was at an awkward age when the books came out, where I was too young to read them, and never really got round to it until last year. But nonetheless, I’m so pleased I got off my procrastinating bum and finally did it – and this is why.
Reading the series coincided with a significant part of my life where I left school and started college (anyone who’s completed year 11 will have memory of that glorious 12 week summer). And although this was an incredibly exciting time of my life, it was also ridiculously scary. When I started college last September, I didn’t know anyone and spent most of the first month alone. I absolutely hated it, but was far too stubborn to admit it to anyone. Despite this, I managed to seek comfort in the Harry Potter books. I thought about Harry and everything he had to go through, and with this tried to muster up to strength to persevere with college. In the simplest way, the books offered me an escape when I really needed it.
On a less personal level, I think the novels teach some pretty important life lessons to us all, about friendship, family, doing right in the face of adversity and standing up for what you believe in. We could all use some of Dumbledore’s wisdom, Harry’s bravery, Ron’s friendship or Hermione’s intelligence sometimes. Above all, I think they teach us that no matter what happens, there will always be hope and a little light – ‘happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light’.
As corny as it sounds, throughout those 7 books, you begin to feel like you know the characters personally. They become your friends, your family and your enemies (ahem, Voldemort and Umbridge). You see the boy from the cupboard under the stairs go on to save the entire wizarding world. You grow up with them. It truly does become an escape to a completely different world.
To anyone who hasn’t read the Harry Potter series, please go and do it. Don’t pass on an opportunity to get lost in one of the most amazing places in the world. And to those of you who have already read the series, ‘whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.’