When I met Irvine Welsh at Lit Fest in Chicago, the stadium was not packed. I can’t imagine why, considering the man has written some of the best fiction I’ve ever read, including Crime, Acid House, and Trainspotting. We watched Jennifer Day ask the standard questions and corrected them in our heads, thinking we could’ve done the interview better, banter and all.
The words “Harry Potter” inspire a morbid cliche in myriad people’s minds: a boy with an eggplant cape, ugly glasses, and a broom who is persecuted for being “different”. This series struck a chord with me long before Harry, Ron and Hermione ever became part of pop culture. Oddballs, eccentrics, and outsiders are among the most likely to identify with Harry’s harrowing tale. I was all three of those growing up.
I started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when I was 8 years old. I proceeded to read it 8 times and would fall asleep with the illustrated characters’ faces by my side. The fantasy world Rowling allowed me to escape in was my favorite because it was a progression from the one I was in. The human chess games, the boarding school setting, and the intricate plot line about “The Boy Who Lived” had me hooked from the start. Each time I reread the books, I notice a new theme, underlying motif, and latent character development. Reading these books is akin to taking loo powder and disappearing through a fireplace.
The rest of the series was far more intense than the opener. I read the 2nd book 5 times, the 3rd book 4 times, the 4th book 4 times, the 5th book 5 times, the 6th book 3 times, and the 7th book twice. I had a themed blanket and pillow, and I even waited at midnight one night to get the 5th book as soon as it came out.
For a children’s series that’s known outrageous success via movie sales, book sales, and other merchandise, Harry Potter has more substance to it than any other series I know, except perhaps the LOTR books. College courses like “Psychology of Harry Potter” and “Religious Symbols in Harry Potter” are cropping up all over the place, proving that children’s literature is more than just a rite of passage.
With an entire shelf devoted to Rowling, my Harry Potter Fever, though greatly diminished since my adolescent days, lives on.