I Grew Up Potter, Did You?

This is a post that I wrote for My Trending Stories (you can find the original here!) I was really excited to share my reasons for being the Harry Potter nerd that I am, because it gets a little more personal than just a general feeling. Feel free to share your thoughts about how you grew up Potter (or any other series) in the comments!

As readers we are always able to look back fondly at a book or series that we felt we grew up with. It could range from the picture books you read as a kid (Berenstain Bears for the win!) or the first chapter books that you remember getting lost in (Little House books!). Whatever that book or series may be, you hold a special place for it. As an adult you may collect it, and eventually hope to pass that love down to the children in your life (your own children, nieces, nephews, etc). While I was a very avid reader as a child, knocking out the Little House books at a pretty young age, I can honestly say that I grew up Harry Potter.

forever-harry-potter-hermione-granger-ron-weasley-snow-favim-com-238528

Shocking right? What “millennial” (blech, I hate that word but I am technically classified as one) hasn’t said that they grew up Potter and that Harry Potter was life, but it’s the truth. I grew up Potter and I am not ashamed.

When we say we grew up with this series I think that we all mean it a little differently. Some started reading it the day it came out in 1997. Now, let me tell you, my parents would not have let their 8 year old read Harry Potter. They were unsure about it and I don’t blame them. There was a lot of talk about the magic and what it would do to children, and I don’t think they were wrong at all to wait. I don’t think I was quite ready then. Thanks for being a bit strict about it mom and dad, I wasn’t fully prepared for Harry Potter.

Others who say that they have grown up Harry Potter refer to the movies. As a child who did get into this series around the same time as the release of the 1st movie I must say, I get it. I didn’t start reading it because of the movie, but I can see the appeal. How many times do we see a TV show or movie and decide we want to look further into it? I do this all the time. But no, this is not how my journey with Harry Potter started.

I started reading Harry Potter in 2000, right before Goblet of Fire came out. I remember it well. My dad had finally said we could maybe read it, if my mom read it first and approved (and that’s how my mom got suckered into the series). This became the rule of the house. My mom always had to read the book before we did so that she could make sure it was appropriate for us (eventually I think she just started using that rule so that she got the book first…). I was pretty excited. I remember starting this series because this was also the year that I stopped being home-schooled and started public school. I was definitely nervous and not fully sure I wanted to start this new part of my life, but I started to feel like I was doing the same thing as Harry (minus being at Hogwarts) and looked on this as a new adventure.

The more I read the more I found that I could relate to this young boy. I started to match up to him in ages as the books started taking a little bit longer to release. I found an escape when I was still trying to figure things out. I found friends, and honestly felt a little more comfortable with being out in this new experience because of Harry. Even though Harry is fighting for the school and against Voldemort he also experienced a lot of the same adolescence that I was going through.

And then…came The Order of the Phoenix.

Now, at this point we knew without a shadow of a doubt that we wanted to continue on with this series. Because we were so sure of this we pre-ordered books from that point on. There was no way we would be able to wait on the library hold list. WE NEEDED THE BOOKS RIGHT AWAY! You know the feeling.

The Order of the Phoenix is the first book I remembered crying in. I started to relate to something way more than I had ever even imagined that I would; the loss of a loved one. This book has been out for 13 years now, do I still need to hide who died here? I mean you have either seen the movies or read the books right? Well…the death of Sirius hit me hard. At this point in my life I was getting close to the 1 year anniversary of my dad’s death. I think that was the moment that I found I related to Harry the most as he watched his beloved guardian die. Now, let me get this straight…my dad was not killed by a death eater. His death was due to cancer, but even so…I understood. I understood the hurt and the pain and the need to try to make it better even though there’s no way to really do that. I could relate and I felt a little less alone.

In 2003 I really felt like I understood Harry. And in 2003 I become 150% more invested in reading his adventures in bringing good to the world and defeating Lord Voldemort.

2007, the year the last book was released…well, that was the year I graduated high school. I read as Harry and his friends fought for their lives, and then I watched as their lives started all over. At that same time I felt like my life was starting all over. I wasn’t necessarily going to the college that I had intended to at that point, but it was still a whole new world. I felt like I ended an era with Harry.

Obviously there were still the movies at that point, which I deeply enjoyed, but I grew up Potter. I grew up with the books. Harry Potter was there for a lot of tough situations in my life, and I am so happy for that.

So naturally, I have been like a kid at Christmas lately. Seeing new books by JK Rowling, a play, a new movie series to look forward to. I am so excited to get to be treated to this world again; a world that gave me temporary relief from the real world when I needed it most.

I grew up Potter! Did you?

tumblr_m77qq10q2x1rpm9hyo3_500

In which I tell you the benefits of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book

Before diving in to this post you should know, this was the FIRST post that I had put together for My Trending Stories (you can find the original article HERE!!). I was so unsure where to start. I mean, I have been on this blog for a long time. I kind of know what I am doing (or I pretend and am super good at that) and feel so at ease with this. Starting to blog for another website is an entirely different story. I was unsure where to start, and even now I am panicking about running out of things to say. But when push comes to shove I can really crank it out, and after writing this post I fell in love with this book all over again. So here you have me fangirling, flailing, and running out of ways to express my love for the The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (this was my first Gaiman!!).

The full synopsis of The Graveyard Book can be found on the Goodreads page.

To sum it up, the book is about a young boy named Nobody Owens. Nobody experienced tragedy at a young age; his parents were murdered. How was he not murdered? Well this toddler got out of the house and wandered over to the graveyard near his home before the murderer could get to him. From that point on Nobody, also know as Bod, was living in the graveyard with the ghosts and other supernatural creatures.

As one can only imagine, there are many adventures to be had in a graveyard, though not all adventures are safe. But Bod continues to have those adventures and to be educated by those that reside there. Outside of the graveyard, the killer of his family still lurks and Bod isn’t completely safe. So in the graveyard he stays as he grows up.

This book is, in fact, classified as a children’s book. There are illustrations to go along with the book, which really does add to the story. I mean, right from the beginning you can see just how well the text and illustrations work together. However, just because this book is classified as children’s does not mean that adults will not enjoy it. In fact, when I really think about Neil Gaiman’s books I find that I actually enjoy his children’s books more than his adult books (though his adult books are wonderful too). I think that, as a children’s author, Gaiman isn’t scared to really push the envelope. As adults we may read this and see it as creepy and possible nightmare fuel for a child, but they just see it as a funny thing. How funny would it be to run into a kid who said that he was raised by ghosts? How much of a laugh would your 9 year old self get at the stories he tells and the adventures he might take you on? On top of that, think of all the things that children these days go through. So many are going through way more than I ever did at their age, so don’t you think that this would be a great escape for them? Maybe they can relate to something and work out some deeper issue without even knowing. Most children wouldn’t find this book too scary, and if they did then they wouldn’t read it.

I loved the strangeness of this book. A boy raised by ghosts and spirits. You best believe he knows a lot of history, but how much does he know about his real world? This becomes an issue, and an issue I think that we all can really relate to. How much do we concentrate on the past instead of what is really happening? I know I struggle with that, and I know that while I read this book I was suddenly aware of it. I noticed just how much time I spent thinking about the ways people may have hurt me or events that I could never change. I thought about what had happened instead of what was happening. This story really explores that topic that we all really need to hear in the best possible way. How will Bod deal with his present situation? Will he live in the graveyard forever? Will he be stuck in the past for the rest of his life? So many good questions came from reading this book.

On top of the importance of living your life, Gaiman touched on the most important lesson we can tell children…be yourself. Nobody Owens is definitely a unique character. He is raised by ghosts, some which are hundreds of years old and remember so many different historical events. They were raised in different time periods, and think of how much our world has changed even from just ten years ago. The people who raise you, or ghosts in this case, definitely influence and help shape who you become. Who will Bod become, and will he always be true to himself?

This book is essentially told in short stories, where each chapter is a year or so in his life and the next chapter takes place a year or two later. It’s really incredible to read, and gave me some moments of laughter while also letting me sit and think of the big picture stuff. A few quotes that I really loved from this book…

“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”

“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”

“You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is just ONE of my many favorite books (and just one of my favorite Gaiman books). I cannot wait to share more recommendations with you from my shelf.

What is one of your favorite books?