It’s a Very Harry Summer OR What Harry Means to Me

My head is full of Harry Potter. I’ve been compulsively re-reading the series since late May. I cannot. Put. Them. Down.

I started reading them in preparation for Books & Bars, which is holding an All Harry Day on July 12. Okay, that’s just what I call it — it’s officially called Harry Potter Day at the Aster Cafe.

Harry Potter Books & Bars
6 p.m., Tuesday, July 12
Aster Cafe
125 SE Main Street
Minneapolis, MN 55414

This meeting of the hip, trendy book club in a bar will include a longer book discussion that starts at 6 p.m. and will encompass all seven books. Best to arrive early, folks.

But really, this is just in anticipation of the second half of the seventh movie (does that make sense?) that opens on July 15. For those of us who have avidly followed this whole incredible phenomenon from the beginning, this is an exciting, albeit rather bittersweet, event.

Of course, in the beginning, we didn’t know that. We heard about this book with this amazing underdog boy as the main character. Who doesn’t love an underdog? Particularly one who lives in the cupboard under the stairs and wears hand-me-downs? And then, to find out he’s a wizard? Well, that’s just every underdog’s dream, isn’t it?

And then, the books were actually good. They were well-written, funny, with deep meaning behind the magical hijinks, and that whole lovely fun imaginative world with all these new words — Muggles, Quidditch, spells of presumably Latin or Greek derivation, and so much more. The underdog met true and good new friends, and found a world in which he belonged.

There was sadness, to be sure. There was evil. But this just heightened the sense of urgency. To read each new book.

The marketing was genius. I remember going to a couple of the midnight launch parties at the Har Mar Barnes & Noble. The wizards were out in force, complete with costumes and tell-tale lightening-shaped scars. The store was decorated to the hilt, and to their credit, they managed the mob scene in a very organized way. By this time, my younger son was devouring the books but thought he was a little too old to dress as a book character in public.

The idea to have the book come out in the summer, no less right about the time of the main character’s birthday, and have midnight parties for children who clearly wanted to stay up all night reading, was pretty slick.

I didn’t read the books until my older son’s seventh grade English teacher foisted the first one on me at conferences. She brought it out of her cupboard like it was a chocolate stash. I had been asking her how to get my previously reading son to read again. She handed it to me with a whisper and told me that she wasn’t lending these out to just anyone. I took it home, he read it, and I can’t tell you how satisfying it was for me to sit in the living room and listen to him laughing on his top bunk (we had a very small apartment at the time).

Then I read them. At first, I started the series over with each new book, but quickly realized that was not sustainable if I wanted to read anything else, as each new book got progressively longer. I recall one Saturday I sat down at the dining room table and opened the newest book. I don’t remember which one it was, probably Book Four: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I sat there all day and into the night, and read the whole thing. And this is a Saturday for a working mother with two kids at home, mind you. I do not believe I have ever done that before, and certainly not since.

The movies were done well, thankfully. Okay, Ron was a little bulky and Harry was a little shorter than you might expect, but how they squeezed each of the later books into one movie was handled very well. This final movie will be the second half of Book Seven. Judging from the trailer, it promises to end the whole series with a bang. A magic bang.

This is the last Harry Summer. I submitted the Harry Potter books as my summer read to the StarTribune, and Laurie Hertzel included it in her list. So it’s not just me. These books always start in the summer, they always end in the summer, and I recall many summer evenings spent reading them. I had to wait two weeks to read book seven because I knew once I started I wouldn’t want to put it down. So I waited to take it to the cabin, and I had to dodge spoilers until our vacation. There is a picture of my son and me sitting in chairs in front of the cabin, reading our respective Harry Potter books. It was a wonderful week.

So it’s true. I am a Harry fan. Even after reading the books several times, I still laugh in places and cry in others. I cannot fault any book that has interested millions of children in reading. Even with the copycat books and the market saturation, I still have a visit to Harry Potter world in Florida on my bucket list.

Favorite quote: from Book Five: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“And from now on, I don’t care if my tea leaves spell die, Ron, die — I’m just chucking them in the bin where they belong.” — Ron Weasley

Makes me laugh every time.

What’s your favorite Harry Potter book, quote, or memory?

Read more about the final Harry summer over at The Minneapolis Examiner.

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12 Comments

  1. LeAnn Suchy 09.Jul.11 at 2:02 pm

    I just loved The Goblet of Fire. Worldwide Quidditch tournament, new wizarding schools, triwizard tournament, annoying Rita Skeeter, the first time we really see Voldemort, etc. So good!

    Reply
  2. FFJ 09.Jul.11 at 7:42 pm

    Order of the Phoenix. Sirius’s death had me gasping for breath and blinking back tears. Sure, his parents are dead, but he was a baby and didn’t get to know them. Giving us Sirius and the scope of hope he brought to Harry, all to have him parish was so cruel and heartbreaking. We can see a bit of darkness emerge in Harry, wanting revenge and committing then and there to fight tooth and nail to defeat Voldermort. Brilliant!

    Reply
  3. Leslie 12.Jul.11 at 8:57 am

    Favorite Harry memory? Wow that is a hard one. The Goblet of Fire by far is my favorite book and move of them all. I love all the sweaters that Mrs Weasley makes for the boys and how they actually wear them. My heart broke when Sirius dies, such a great loss when he really was all the family that Harry had left. I love watching the Sourcer’s Stone and seeing how much they have all grown over the years. While I am excited to see the move I am also sad that it will all be over.

    Reply
  4. Cat @ Beyond Books 12.Jul.11 at 2:26 pm

    I’m a Book 3 fan. I think it will always be my favourite one. I am soured to all things Quidditch after having horrible, horrible times trying to fly a bloody broom in all the video games that started adding that element to them. I used to have my husband play that part of the game for me. ha! Even now, having just re-watched the first 6 movies in the last week I get anxious whenever the Quidditch music starts to play on the soundtrack!

    Bloody stupid game to add to video games. =P

    I think my favourite memories are of the first time seeing all the owls try to deliver the Hogwarts invite and then just seeing Hogwarts and the Great Hall for the first time in the movie and for the book – the feeling the words produced in me as I read about the first view of things.

    I love the World of Potter and I am so happy that this happened during my lifetime!

    Reply
  5. Janssen 12.Jul.11 at 3:01 pm

    I LOVED this post. Makes me want to reread the whole series (and I only reread them just in December!)

    Reply
  6. Jill_ums 12.Jul.11 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you for the beautiful post!! I think I want to write my own Harry Potter tribute now. I remember when book 4 came out. I was on vacation and returning 2 days after its release. On the airplane ride home, every 3 or 4 rows there was someone was reading The Goblet of Fire. It was so neat to see these complete strangers all bonding over a book.

    Reply
  7. Mamacita 12.Jul.11 at 7:06 pm

    Pick my favorite Harry Potter book or quotation? You might as well ask me to single out one of my children as my favorite – I love this series so much, there are no words invented yet to describe it. I’ve re-read each of the seven books at least ten times, and have the fantastic Jim Dale audiobooks in my car stereo and on my iPod.

    Obsessed much? Heck no. Just in love.

    Reply
  8. hzay 12.Jul.11 at 7:58 pm

    It’s nearly impossible to pick my favourite Harry Potter moment, but this one is definitely in top 3.

    “Are you sure that’s a real spell?” said the girl. “Well, it’s not very
    good, is it? I’ve tried a few simple spells just for practice and it’s
    all worked for me. Nobody in my family’s magic at all, it was ever such
    a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I
    mean, it’s the very best school of witchcraft there is, I’ve heard —
    I’ve learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it
    will be enough — I’m Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you.

    I die laughing everytime imagining Ron’s look at this point. 🙂 Pity they cut it from the movie. Btw, I love Harry Potter. Guess it was obvious. I love it so much that I started a company sending out Hogwarts letters. Do check out http://hogwarts-letter.com. You can send an awesome hogwarts acceptance letter to anyone from there for 14.99. Trust me, the looks on people’s faces when they receive their letters are absolutely priceless! 🙂

    Reply
  9. Cristi @ Motherhood Unadorned 13.Jul.11 at 5:56 pm

    Impossible to give you just one favorite book or moment. I have been so wrapped up in this series for so many years, it was SO depressing when the last book was done and I had no more Harry to read. I’ve already got my tickets to see the movie Saturday. I think the most beautiful and devastating moment is when Harry walks to meet Voldemort in Book 7 and the shadows of his parents and friends walk with him. I cried. Can’t wait to take my kids on the Harry Potter journey when they are old enough!

    Reply
  10. Sandy DJ 13.Jul.11 at 6:35 pm

    Like many of the other posters…kind of impossible to single out a favorite line. For me it is a tie between the 1st book and the last. I read the first book before it had really HIT the radar…I wanted to make sure that it was suitable for my two kids. I remember Harry and Draco’s first conversation, when Harry stood up for Ron. And I choked up when Hermione took the blame for them being in the bathroom with the troll. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Louis.

    I waited at Borders until 2:30am to buy the Deathly Hollows. I drove home and read for about an hour, then slept. Then I woke up and read until I finished the book…probably about 4pm. I could have finished sooner, but I had to stop and cry at least 3 different times: Dobby, Fred and Severus. Oh and of course, the last scene on the platform.
    To me the books were perfection…all about the magical power of Love, be it that of your friends, your family or those people who choose to love you, the REAL you, just because.

    Reply
  11. Mary V 13.Jul.11 at 9:34 pm

    LOVE the series – books and movies. My entire family has enjoyed them over the years and it has been something we have bonded over time and time again, young and old. Grandmother and grandson have had deep HP conversations, husband and I have discussed the many facets of the books, daughter and friends spent time trying to decide what would happen in the next book and so on. Harry will always live in in our house but it will never be the same as waiting for the next new book to be released. I am so glad we had these books to treasure during my, and my children’s, lifetime.

    Reply
  12. Vic 14.Jul.11 at 12:45 pm

    I love book 7 best! my favorite line’s the last in the book – all was well. After all the adventure, darkness, evil and frustrations, the characters have grown and developed and there was peace. I find those 3 words really loaded and touching.

    Reply

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