Things I Understand Now that I’ve Finally Read the Harry Potter Series

harry potter setSome of you may remember that back in January, I shared with the world that I had never read the Harry Potter series. I expected the reaction I received; shocked, gawking, sometimes even judging faces. But what I didn’t expect were so many of you becoming Harry Potter cheerleaders. Many of you would write and say how jealous they were that I got to experience the novels for the first time, many people wrote and shared that they couldn’t wait to discuss the series with me when it ended. Of course, each  time I did finish a book, I’d say to my friends in a really excited tone, “And then Harry and Ginny finally kissed” and they’d look at me and say “I know. I read the series when it came out ten years ago.”

Since the Harry Potter phenomenon has been part of our culture for seventeen years now, there are many references to it in mainstream culture that I never quite understood. Now that I’ve finally read the series thanks to Just a ‘Lil Lost’s Harry Potter Reading Challenge, I can finally be a part of the conversations about all things Harry Potter and I now (like the rest of you) can get really excited when anything HP happens, such as a short story by J.K. Rowling being written. As I read the series, I jotted down things that were missing puzzle pieces in what I thought I knew about Harry Potter. I made note of the way people reacted about this series and how it became a pop culture phenomenon. Now that I’ve finally finished the seven books in the series, I want to share my observations with you!

Why You Weren’t Allowed to use the Name of ‘He Who Shall Not be Named’  – Recently I rewatched the first season of Orange is the New Black and as Piper and Larry are sitting in their home discussing her upcoming jail sentence, Larry makes the comment, “you can say the word jail, it’s not like we’re talking about Lord Voldemort.” Up until 7 months ago, I really didn’t know why you couldn’t just speak the name of the evil man in the Harry Potter series. Of course, now I know that to speak Lord Voldemort’s name suggests that you have no fear of him and therefore no respect for him. This is why the Death Eaters even avoided using his name in conversations.

Why People Booed Draco Malfoy – Before I began reading the series, I remember watching a Teen Choice Award Ceremony (or some equivalent award show) in which  the actor Tom Felton won an award for ‘Best Villian’. He got up there to thank his Mom, Dad and his fans and everyone booed him. I remember watching and thinking that it was so sad. That all this young kid did was play a mean boy in the movie and people were acting so rudely to him. Now of course while I still think it’s wrong that people would boo a young actor who played a character, I get it. Draco Malfoy was a mean young man who was not only vindictive, but evil. How his character played out from start to finish was one of my favourite part of reading the series.

Why there’s a Harry Potter Themed Park – Before reading these books I imagewent to Universal Studios in Florida. I walked around not knowing what Butter Beer was, I sure as heck didn’t understand why you could buy Chocolate Frogs and had no idea why goblins were running the imaginary bank. I was naive to the monstrosity of what I was witnessing. All that being said, I waited in a lineup for two hours to ride on an imaginary broomstick to soar about Hogwarts. Now I understand that this book series not only changed the way people read and write, it inspired a whole world to be created. From what I understand this recreation is the closest thing you’ll get to the real Harry Potter experience. Now I’m saving up to head back to FL to see it once again (and it’s new elements) to experience it the right way.

Why Everyone Loves Sirius Black – When Sirius was being mentioned in conversations when people were first reading the series, I remember people spoke of him with such disdain. They’d roll their eyes and say he’s up to no good… then they’d finish The Prisoner of Azkaban and their perspectives changed. Of course, I never really asked why. Now after reading, what I’d call my favourite book in the series, I know why. His intentions and actions were always good. In an effort not to give too much away, I will say that he was one of my favourite characters in the entire series… besides Dobby.

Why People Were So Upset About J.K. Rowling’s Quote about Harry and Hermione – Back in February, Emma Watson interviewed J.K. Rowling about the series for Wonderland Magazine. In this interview, Rowling said some pretty shocking things about the series she wrote. The biggest shocker was when she said,

In some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit, and I’ll tell you something very strange. When I wrote Hallows, I felt this quite strongly when I had Hermione and Harry together in the tent! I hadn’t told [Steven] Kloves that and when he wrote the script he felt exactly the same thing at exactly the same point.

Of course, some fans didn’t mind the idea of Harry and Hermione ending up together, but some were outraged. In a lot of ways Hermione and Ron ending up together was a surprise no one saw coming and it made both of them break down walls they’d put up. I can understand her comment, but to play the woulda, coulda, shoulda game so long after the series has concluded made people question their admiration and devotion to this cute and unpredictable couple.

Why People Became Quiet Whenever I Asked About Robert Pattinson’s role in the Movie – When the Twilight movies hit the screen and everyone become obsessed with the pale Robert Pattinson, people began to recognize him as the man that played Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter movies. I’d be a fool not to hear that he had a role in some of the Harry Potter movies, so I asked around (having only seen the first movie and an hour or so of the second movie) and every time I asked someone about who he was in the movie, they’d get really quiet Harry-Potter-Fansand say he was Cedric Diggory. From this reaction alone, I knew that something terrible must have happened to this character. But when I finally discovered his fate, I was broken up about it. Oh god, even writing about it now makes me teary eyed.

The Cult-Like Culture Dedicated to the Series – It didn’t take me long, probably by book four, to realize why this series has become so, so popular. Why people reread it yearly, why it has its own theme park and why J.K. Rowling has become a billionaire. Harry Potter fans are a dedicated fan base, they know the inner workings of this series. They know every nook and cranny about why the characters behave a certain way. Seventeen years ago I thought it was all hype, I thought with time it would die down and people would move on. Now having read the series, I understand why people are so passionate about these books. I get it. I really do. As someone who loves books in general, I love that these books allow people to have to use their imaginations. They even introduced reading to children/teens/adults who might not otherwise read at all. The series might have ended seven years ago, but I don’t think these books are going anywhere. I’m just glad that I can now be a part of the ongoing phenomenon that is Harry Potter.

A special thank you to Michele from Just A ‘Lil Lost and Kaley from Books Etc who were two of my biggest online supporters and were both a driving force in helping to finally get me to commit to this series. 

 

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28 thoughts on “Things I Understand Now that I’ve Finally Read the Harry Potter Series

  1. Yasmine says:

    This is so great to read! It’s so good to read such a perspective on things; nowadays, everyone’s read the books years ago and it’s hard to find someone with a fresh, new look on things. It must have been really interesting reading them after witnessing all the hypes going on with the new books and series over the past few years. I bet your “ahhhh!” realization moments must have been abundant 🙂

  2. tanya (52 books or bust) says:

    I haven’t read any of the HP books either. Which is why I never understand why there is always such a crowd at one end of Kings Cross Station in London. Last week I investigated further and there is a shopping cart and a sign for Platform 9 3/4 or something (i’m sure you will know) and you can have your picture taken there. Lots of fans there, especially Japanese fans.

  3. The Paperback Princess says:

    I can’t believe it’s been 7 years since the last book came out. My fiance is finishing up book 7 for the first time right now and he finally understands as well (reason 5 bajillion why we’re getting married). My younger sister fought me for years on reading these books and finally secretly read them. Now there isn’t a bigger HR fan than her. She knows *everything* about the books and their world. These books have a transformative quality – not only the characters and the world they inhabit but on the reader as they make their way through the story. You can’t read these books and not be changed in some way.

    Lovely lovely Dobby. Personally I’ve always adored Fred and George. And I always knew that Ron and Hermione would get together. Harry and Hermione did have some moments, especially in book 7 but she was always supposed to end up with Ron.

  4. Dana says:

    I, too, just read the Harry Potter series. Full time job, college for the past 10+ years, and three children were my excuse. When my time became my own and I could read the books I chose (non-textbook, thank you), the Harry Potter series was in my top ten. During the last semester of my masters, I was conducting research in a high school English class and the students were aghast that I had not read them yet. The teachers, however, were more wistful and wishing they were able to read them again for the first time. I promised both groups I would move Harry to the top of my list.
    My reactions were very similar to your reactions. Our difference seems to be that I was always anxious to read past the love interest moments and get back to the wizarding action.
    Wondering, had you watched the movies before reading? I had not seen the movies, though did know the actors. At a few points I was disappointed I could not fully concoct the characters in my head. After I finished a book, my daughter and I watched the movie. I feel for the people who only watched the movies and did not get the wonderful depth of Ms. Rowling’s storytelling, important back story (and sometimes front story), and character development.

  5. Tom Yusko says:

    It always makes me smile when I hear of someone who has just read the series and even more fun talking to them. The Potterverse is just an amazingly dark and happy place and I welcome you to it, now be a good muggle and go read them again.

  6. Piyumi says:

    Well hi, good that you read it… FINALLY 🙂 when i read ur post u kind of posted my ideas too. Prisoner of Azcaban is my favourite too. I dont know how many times i read it. And Dobby is my love too. I really cried when i watched that part in the movie and when i read the part where Black died i cried for hours and did nt re read the book. I truely expected Belatrix to have a bad ending though JKR didnt say much about that. I dont know why they booed Draco coz in the end in black suit he looked really handsome 😉

  7. Sarah says:

    I honestly teared up a little reading this. It’s so strange how something as simple as books can mean so much to so many people, and it’s amazing how easy it is for someone to become a part of it.

  8. Jackie Gennari says:

    I thought that they weren’t supposed to say Voldemort’s name also due to the fact that there was a tracer spell attached to it, and anyone who dared speak it was immediately located and killed… ? Like what happened to our three in the cafe in London when they fled Bill and Fleur’s wedding?

  9. Ms.Isabella says:

    I suppose it’s not a surprise to anyone who follows my blog, but I’m a huge HP fan. I’m so glad you finally read the series, and I’m so glad you like it! I’m a yearly reader myself, have been since book 3, but it’s always awesome to see someone view the series in a fresh light. Now that you have, maybe you’ll enjoy this: http://madeintorontoblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/the-harry-potter-thing and this: http://madeintorontoblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/hogwarts-harry-potter-nursery more than you would have before…

  10. Terry says:

    Congrats on joining the HP lovers! And know this: you’ll read it again. And again. And EACH time you’ll understand more, and notice more, and appreciate more. That’s the hallmark of a timeless classic.

  11. Cat says:

    Your post has made me want to go on a re-read journey through all seven books. I haven’t read them all in a row (at once), yet. Maybe this is what I’ll do over my summer holiday in August. I am very happy that you enjoyed this series as a first-time reader. Welcome to the Hogwarts club. 😉

  12. Kaley @ Books Etc. says:

    YAY. I know I’m late to read this (which is why I never thanked you for the shout out…you’re a star…THANK YOU) but I wanted to finish rereading the series myself before I got into your head via this post.
    I am SO FREAKING HAPPY you love the series and totally get why we’re all obsessed with it. It’s more than just a kid’s story (and I HATE when people say that).
    I actually got goosebumps as I was reading this (and it’s not just the AC at work) because I love the series so much and it’s awesome to see someone else GETTING it. My own BFFs don’t understand this (and it makes me wonder why I’m friends with them…haha) but my sister does and we got to go to Universal together which was an unbelievable experience. Can’t wait to go back!
    Again, I am so glad you loved the series. Congrats on becoming part of the Potterverse!

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