I have very distant memories of my first reading of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was fifth grade, year 2000, and it was a battered copy from the library. I can’t recall if someone recommended it to me, or if I picked it up myself. That is how intricately Harry Potter is woven into my life – it has always been there, it seems.
I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter series on Audible and overall, I find Jim Dale does an excellent job bringing the characters to life (expect I hate his voice for Hermione, but you can’t have everything). The double blessing in this is that I also am able to share my favorite series with my husband, who isn’t much for reading and didn’t particularly love the films… but seems to be enjoying the books.
In brief, it’s wonderful to be able to experience a story you love through the eyes of another. My husband and I did this through Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials earlier this year, and finally I decided to force my favorite series on him. You know what? He laughs. He laughs at parts I hadn’t even considered, like where Ron pokes fun at Hermione for forgetting she’s a witch while the boys are stuck in the Devil’s Snare. Where the centaurs are insisting “Mars is bright tonight” over and over again. It’s delightful!
For those who’ve been living under a rock for the last twenty years, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the story of a young boy who was orphaned as a baby when a dark wizard killed his parents. The good news? In trying to kill baby Harry, Voldemort himself appears to have been killed. The bad news? Harry has to live with his aunt and uncle, who hate magic, his parents, and especially Harry himself. But that all changes when he (after much effort) receives a letter to study at Hogwarts, a magical school hidden in the heart of the UK and an envy to all us Muggles since publication in 1997. He makes friends and enemies, adventures ensue, and he’s forced to face evil again and make some difficult choices in order to save the world again.
All in all, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone certainly withstands the test of time. It’s been at least 17 years since I read it first, and even now I find things in it I don’t recall reading the first (second, third, fourth, fifth) time. The rounded development of Rowling’s characters – even in a children’s book! – is still refreshing compared to most of the modernly published books in any genre, and the intricacy of her subplots and storylines still intrigues.
If you have a free afternoon this winter and are feeling nostalgic, I definitely recommend digging out your battered old paperback copy and revisiting the trio as they foil Voldemort’s resurgence for the first time.