This is the part of my story as a reader where I became obsessed with Harry Potter.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published in the US in 1998. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban were both published in 1999. Pottermania had definitely arrived on this side of the pond. They were the books everyone was reading. And though I loved children’s literature, I very much dislike doing things everyone is doing, so I determined I wasn’t going to bother with the books. This is the point of the story where everyone who knows me now rolls their eyes so far back into their head they see their brain stem.
In October 1999 I left to serve a mission in Brasil. I wanted to bring back a few meaningful lembranças so I had a man carve a wooden plaque of the painting of Jesus with the children for me. I bought a hammock. And I decided it might be kind of fun to buy a children’s book in Portuguese. By the time I got back my mom and sister had relented and started reading Harry Potter and discovered they were really quite good. So I bought Harry Potter e a Câmera Secreta (the second book).
When I got home my mom and sister loaned me a copy of the first in English and I decided it was pretty good. Then I read the second one in Portuguese. That was quite the experience. I’d become pretty good with Portuguese on my mission but I still had to pull out my dictionary a few times. I’d never learned, for example, how to say “vomiting slugs” in Portuguese. And then there was a minor problem with my translation. After visiting Aragog in the forest Ron and Harry are talking about where the spider said the dead girl was found. I flipped back to that section and the spider never said anything about the dead girl. I was so confused. It wasn’t until I pulled out an English copy that I realized they hadn’t translated the sentence “the dead girl was found in a bathroom.” Kind of a key sentence if you know the story.
By that point I was hooked. I read the third and fourth books and started anxiously awaiting the publishing of the fifth, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, just like everyone else. I pre-ordered my copy and waited on 21 June 2003, the publishing date, the date it was promised to arrive. And it didn’t! It didn’t arrive till two days later. By which point half the world had already read it! I read it. Loved it. And decided I was going to do what I needed to do to make sure that didn’t happen again in the future.
Midnight of 16 July 2005 found me dressed as a witch waiting in line to buy a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I actually hadn’t pre-purchased a book, which was potentially a problem. However a local radio station was there and doing a drawing for books and both myself and my friend Amanda won books! Amanda dressed as a witch trying to dress like a muggle. I drove while she read on the way home. We started reading at 12:45am on the 16th and I finished at 4:24am on the 17th. It was an amazing experience.
And then it was another wait till book 7! When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published I was again at a midnight release party, only this time I’d pre-purchased the book. I hadn’t wanted to risk not getting one. I was definitely obsessed by this point. Through a set of circumstances that my sister found very dodgy and threatened to bring up at my funeral, I ended up the fourth person in line to go into the store at midnight. I was the first person with a book. I’ve never left a book store to a cheering crowd before. It was real amazing. Behind me a dad came out with his daughter on his shoulders holding the book up high for everyone to see. Reading commenced at 12:10am and I finished at 6:33pm.
But I wasn’t done yet. Along the way I’d purchased the first book in Portuguese at the BYU bookstore and my sister had gone to England for a semester and brought me the first four books in a boxed set with the children’s covers (because England did two sets of covers). So of course I had to complete my British children’s covers series. And if I was getting the children’s covers I needed to get the adult covers too. My MTC companion went back to our mission when they dedicated the temple there and got me the third book in Portuguese. And Brett bought me the 5th and 7th (because he couldn’t remember which ones I already had) in Portuguese for different gift giving occasions. And we’ve already purchased the first two in Latin (the rest of the series hasn’t been translated into Latin, yet), as part of our plan to become fluent in Latin. The books completely fill, left to right and top to bottom, a shelf on my bookcase. (This photo was taken before I got one more Latin book and two more Portuguese books.)
And then there were the midnight releases of the movies that I had to go see, dressed up of course. I won’t be doing a midnight release for Fantastic Beasts this weekend because the three little ones in our house make that a bit harder now. But we’ve already got a babysitter lined up for next week so we can go.
I’m on Pottermore and have been sorted into Ravenclaw (not surprising). My wand is made of ebony with a phoenix feather core, 10.75 inches, hard. And my patronus is a black and white cat. At the start of the patronus test the site has this quote:
The Patronus is a kind of positive force, a projection of the very thing the Dementor feeds upon – hope, happiness, the desire to survive…
– Remus Lupin
And I read that and thought of my happiest memories. Shimri is my hope (literally, it’s part of her name). Iddo is my happiness. And Shimei has shown a desire to survive. My kids are my Patronus. They are my positive force that I will project out into the world to destroy Dementors.
And that’s the power of a good book (series).