Thank you for this Buzzfeed.
Some books mean more than others. And in no place is this quote more apt that when talking about the Harry Potter series. It took not just me, but an entire generation a very short time to become completely obsessed with the Boy Who Lived. The books fuelled our love for reading and many of us would not in fact be person we are today, had the books not happened. So to celebrate the fact that this incredible series, completed 20 years, here are some heart warming series from Potterheads around the world.
It allows me to still believe in magic, the type that transcends time and illness and breathes love back into our souls.
My grandmother taught me how to read using the Harry Potter books. She started by reading them to me, then with me. When the movies came out, she took me and my cousins (all 21 of her grandchildren) to see the movies in theaters, but she always asked me to sit next to her. When you grow up in a family as big as mine, it’s hard to find your place or feel like your voice is heard, but my grandma never made me feel that way. And I feel like I owe Harry Potter for at least part of that bond.
My grandma now has aggressive Alzheimer’s and barely remembers anyone or anything. On a few occasions, I have reread the Harry Potter books to her. Not only does it seem to calm her, but it allows me to still believe in magic, the type that transcends time and illness and breathes the love and bond that this disease has taken back into our souls. This type of magic ties the person she once was to the person I am becoming. It reminds me that even though she is not mentally present, she is still very much a part of who I am. And while I can’t speak definitively for her, I know deep down it’s a mutual feeling.
Like Harry, I’d lost my mother – the series helped me cope.
When I was growing up, I was Mildred Hubble: all pigtails and awkwardness. Harry Potter didn’t cross my path until I was in my late teens, and I wasn’t entirely ready to go back to a world of magical boarding schools again.
Then the Mirror of Erised changed my mind.
My mother had passed away by the time I read Philosopher’s Stone as a student and even though I had never been an 11-year-old boy wizard, I understood a little of how Harry felt.
I was all caught up by the time Deathly Hallows was published. I remember staying up to read it through the night and ending up in floods of tears as Lily Potter said to Harry: “You’ve been so brave.” Those are the kind of words you long to hear when you’ve lost a parent. These stories hit you where you live sometimes, in the most beautiful way.
You tend to gravitate towards things when you need them most. The album that got you through high school, the film that changed your life. I think I came to love the Harry Potter stories at a time in my life when I really needed to remember that you can come back from a loss a lot stronger than you ever thought possible.
It’s strange though, because there seems to be a line that Harry Potter crosses with some fantasy fans – as if it’s somehow childish, because it’s about children. What got me into the series wasn’t that I grew up alongside Ron, Harry and Hermione but that I could relate to what they’d lost, what they were trying to protect. And because it’s littered with beautiful notions like banishing fear with laughter, or being able to defeat something that’s determined to snuff out your happiness with a joyful thought.
I’ve always loved to read – it’s why I studied English, it’s why I wanted to become a writer. I now work for [the Harry Potter website] Pottermore and I honestly have to pinch myself just about every day. As a lover of the written word, it’s such a special world to be a part of.
It’s my job to love Harry Potter, but it’s also a joy.
– Krystal Sim works at Pottermore
I made my first friends bonding over a mutual obsession … Those women are people I still love and care about very much.
I was always the most awkward kid. Just a small, over imaginative little weirdo who had trouble connecting with people and following social conventions. I made my first friends bonding over a mutual obsession with Harry Potter. We had a Harry Potter club. We wrote our own versions of the Daily Prophet, made chocolate frogs out of Tootsie Rolls, had Harry Potter-themed birthday parties, and dressed like witches for god knows how many Halloweens. When one of us got a newly released book before the others, we would call each other and read it over the phone. Those women are people I still love and care about very much.
Harry Potter was a huge part of growing up for me and, in bad times, I’d sneak off with the book and escape reality for a little bit. The fantasy and magic of it all help me cope with clinical depression, and to this day you’ll still catch me reading a 20-year-old book written for children.
– Pratyushap, Buzzfeed User
It made the complicated emotions I was experiencing tangible.
I was 7 years old and Prisoner of Azkaban was about to be released. It was a challenge for me. The books were beyond my reading level, but I kept going – sometimes just reading a page a day – and finally I had read my first book entirely independently. No one had told me the story beforehand, no one was guiding me through it or testing me on how much I remembered. I loved it; I loved the story, but most of all I loved the experience of discovering a new world on my own terms.
More importantly, though, J.K. Rowling made the complicated emotions I was experiencing tangible. I had a difficult upbringing with a lot of abuse and confusion, and I developed borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. J.K. Rowling did something magical when she created terrifying creatures: In the Dementors I recognised my own depression, and Boggarts became a representation of my flashbacks – something utterly terrifying to me but, ultimately, something I could control. Seeing the way in which J.K. Rowling was able to explain these feelings, which had felt so abstract to me, motivated me to find a way to use my own experiences in a creative way. I am now a writer, and while I still have terrible moments that land me in the hospital, I have found a way to cope when everything feels unbearable. There are times I wonder if I would still be alive now if I had not experienced Harry Potter.
– Rachael Matthews, Facebook
I was self harming, and Harry Potter helped me get better.
When I was 16, my family moved away to a foreign country. At the time, I thought I would be fine without them – like most teenagers, I felt I wasn’t a child and could go out in the big bad world alone. I wasn’t entirely alone – I went to live with my uncle and his family – but it was the biggest mistake of my life. I’d always look forward to my mum’s visits, which weren’t very frequent and passed in the blink of an eye.
I discovered Harry Potter while I was studying for my A-levels. I can’t say I compared myself to Harry, but at the time I felt I was always alone. That was one of the things which made me feel connected to Harry.
From about the age of 17 to 20, I self-harmed regularly. It was never full on and no one ever knew about it. It was something entirely for me: only I would know about it and only I had control over it. Times were bleak, but the series always gave me something to look forward to. They were there when no one else was.
Eventually, the books helped me understand that I could rely and lean on my friends and, importantly, confide in them, and it then became a group effort to get me better.
Culturally, Harry Potter has had a huge impact on our generation. It’s taught us to care about others, even strangers. It’s something I feel we can pass on to the next generation too. My eldest daughter is eight and she has nearly finished the fifth book. We share a love for the series. My youngest is also starting to show interest now.
I think if I were to meet JK Rowling, I’d want to thank her. Her story, as much as that of Harry Potter, has inspired so many people to do better for themselves. And then I’d ask for an autograph!
– Melanie Martin, Florist
It taught me that if you spend all your time fearing your death, you will have lived a life not worth living.
This might sound strange, but I took more away from Tom Riddle’s life story than I did anyone else’s experiences in those books. I started reading in 1998 when I was 8 years old and read over the years until the last one was released when I turned 17. I was afraid of everything as a child. I was very scared of dying, and especially my parents dying. I can honestly say that the Harry Potter books helped me with my fear of death. It really hit me round the head reading about Voldemort’s past and his obsession with his own mortality. He spent his whole life full of fear, desperately searching for a way to become “master of death”, but in the end he had no quality of life at all. He died surrounded by people but completely alone. That story really helped me let go of my fear and just live my life. It taught me that if you spend all your time fearing your death, you will have lived a life not worth living.
– Medlilove, Buzzfeed User
The books helped me cope with dyslexia.
At eight years old, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I found reading really difficult. One day, after someone recommended it to her, my mum brought home Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for us to read together.
I was hooked. Within three months, we had co-read the entire book and I was asking for more. Over the years, my confidence and ability grew. By book four, I was reading on my own. I was regularly found fast asleep on the latest copy.
Reading is such an important skill at school. The stories and characters brought to life in the series showed me that reading could be something I could enjoy at a time when it felt so difficult.
By the final instalment, I was a true Potterhead. I finished my GCSEs and read the entire book, cover to cover in three days. Two years after that, I got my A-levels and went off to the University of Sheffield. If it hadn’t been for Harry Potter, I never would have got there.
– Alexa Adam, Marketing Project Manager
I am indebted to J.K. Rowling forever for the healing she provided.
When I was 7 years old, my mom got very sick. My dad had to take her to a research hospital in Florida, but the doctors had no idea what was causing this sudden and extremely painful illness in my mom. They didn’t know if she would live through it, and if she did, she would probably be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. It was during this time that my second-grade teacher noticed I was bored with the books in our classroom library and introduced me to the Harry Potter books. Once those books were in my hands, I never let go of them.
When I opened those books I was in a world where I didn’t have to think about my mom being sick or being away from my parents, and when I did think those thoughts, I had Harry to look to. He didn’t have his parents with him anymore, but he was brave and he was OK. He had great friends and people like Hagrid and Dumbledore who looked after him. While my mom was gone, I read and reread those books over and over, and when she finally came home in a wheelchair and she couldn’t play with me like she used to, I kept reading those books. It got me through.
Over the years, I turned to those books for respite from many things. When I had radiation treatment a few years ago and had to be isolated from everyone, I had those books. They’ve gotten me through so much. I am indebted to J.K. Rowling forever for the healing she provided. It means the world to me and more. And my mom? After many years of painful struggle, she made a miraculous recovery and walks on her own as though she were never sick. She is a walking miracle. I introduced her to the books, and she loves them as much as I do. Thank you, Harry Potter. You are so much more than just a book series.
– Christinemcree, Buzzfeed User
Luna was exceptionally kind and smart, but also wasn’t afraid of who she was. She was everything I wanted to be.
I started reading the Harry Potter books in middle school and, like most of us out there, it was a rough three years for me. What helped me get through it – and many other difficult times in my life since – was Luna Lovegood. Luna was the first character I had encountered in my literary journey that was not only exceptionally kind and smart, but also wasn’t afraid of who she was. I was a closeted bisexual 13-year-old girl with no friends, and she was everything I wanted to be. She got way more crap from her classmates than most kids, and still retained a calm demeanour and a pleasant smile on her face.
– Calikelsi, Buzzfeed User
Hogwarts distracted me as my family moved around the US.
I still remember the segments of my childhood by Harry Potter book release dates, which – magically – happened to correspond with each of my family’s many moves. At eight years old, my immersion in the world of Hogwarts distracted me from the childhood anguish of moving across the US. Upon arriving in Virginia from Ohio, Goblet of Fire was published. An otherwise lonely summer turned into an adventure, as I reread the books for clues to their unsolved mysteries, getting better acquainted with the characters who had become my friends.
The Harry Potter books gave me hope for a magical future – a home, a place to be wanted and cherished, and a purpose: fighting for what I believed in like a true Gryffindor. Sure they’re about witchcraft and wizardry, but they’re extras, atop a solid foundation of the kind of magic that is very much rooted in the real world.
Moving and reading became routine: I would collect and devour my new book, then find a corner of our new house to claim as my “cupboard under the stairs” where I would store my collected Potter treasures. The experience surrounding the books meant just as much to me as their content. I found in Hermione a likeminded learning enthusiast, reassuring me that there were kids like me out there. Meeting friends at this shy stage of my life was made easy by the characters we had in common.
When the seventh book came out, I found myself not in solitude, but surrounded by friends. We met, through our friend Harry, at a summer programme in Oxford where I was studying fantasy literature. Together, we waited up for the midnight release. We cried when our favourite characters died. We consoled each other that this wasn’t the end, unsure of what that meant.
A few days later, on my 16th birthday, my teacher handed me a note from Blackwells saying that I had won their Harry Potter quiz. This was my Hogwarts letter, inviting me to collect my prize: a wand with a phoenix feather core. Just as the new Harry Potter books came to me when I needed them most, this token seemed like a gesture from Albus Dumbledore himself, confirmation that I should keep reading, keep believing that no, this is not the end.
– Xandra Robinson-Burns
It gave me the courage to always strive to do what is right, regardless of anyone else’s opinion.
My childhood was pretty Dursley-ish: My parents used me for chores and manual labor without much thanks or love in return. I first read Harry Potter when I was 12, and immediately fell in love. Here was a boy who could have all this bad shit happen to him, and he still rose above evil and oppression to do what was right for others and save the entire Wizarding World.
I was raised in a pretty religious family, and we no longer have anything to do with one another since I’m openly lesbian and married to a woman. Harry Potter taught me that it’s OK to make your own family and surround yourself with people that truly love and care about you. The lessons of friendship, bravery, and loyalty are ones I still carry as the basis for my beliefs and passions today. This series gave me the courage to always strive to do what is right, regardless of anyone else’s opinion. Statistics say I should never have made it out of my small town, and that I shouldn’t have accomplished much in my life. Harry Potter is the reason I overcame those statistics and am pursuing my doctoral degree in education, and it continuously shapes the way I interact with my students. Many of them are cupboard-under-the-stairs kids, and I do my best to use my experiences – and Harry’s – as a basis for understanding and overcoming life’s hardships.
– Ashley Higginbotham, Facebook
Harry Potter was my lifeline after my grandfather died.
I came to Harry Potter a little later than everyone else. I remember the books coming out when I was a child but it was only in my late teens and early 20s that they became such a huge part of my life.
My grandfather had just died. My own father left when I was one, so I’ve never really had a relationship with him – my grandfather might as well have been my dad. He was a huge part of my life and I was utterly devastated when he passed away. At the same time, my estranged father was causing my mother upset and my then-boyfriend was causing all kinds of grief. Generally, I was quite low. I felt really lost.
I picked up the newest Harry Potter, which I think was Half Blood Prince. I’d watched some of the films and enjoyed them but never had that buzz everyone else had seemed to get.
Once I started reading, I was hooked. There was so much in the books I could relate to. I was shocked by how much I wanted to crawl into this world and disappear.
I immediately bought all the books that had been published at that point and read them over and over. I watched the films back to back and found such relief and comfort in seeing Harry evolve and grow.
The series was a solid point in my life when I desperately needed one. When it ended, with the “19 years later” final chapter, I wept. I felt like I’d lost such a friend!
Harry Potter and JK Rowling changed my life because they gave me such comfort when I needed it most. They filled me with wonder when no one else could.
I wouldn’t have my job without Harry Potter.
When my parents bought me the first Harry Potter book, I was six years old, and they had no idea they were setting me up for my first job after college. The book was recommended to them by my teachers, who knew that embarking on a new series together was a great way for me to bond with my dad while my mom was taking care of my baby sister.
It soon became part of the nightly routine for the whole family, with my dad creating voices for all the characters and my sister listening with the rest of us, soaking up the stories of Harry, Ron, and Hermione before she could even speak.
Even as I grew up and found new interests, becoming a walking encyclopedia on musical theatre as I worked towards a career on Broadway, I could still find a way to work Harry Potter into nearly any situation.
Last spring, with college graduation looming, I walked into a theatrical office on an errand and ran into Melissa Anelli, a co-owner of Mischief Management, the company responsible for running LeakyCon. I’d dreamed of attending LeakyCon, a major Harry Potter fan convention, for years, but had never made it there. They had just announced their new convention, BroadwayCon, which sounded just as magical to me as LeakyCon always had. Within two months, I was hired as their executive assistant.
I had never suspected I’d find a group of friends and co-workers who would understand my every Harry Potter reference, share their favourite fan fiction with me, and be willing to argue with me over which Hogwarts houses the characters from the Broadway show Hamilton belong in (an idea we even turned into a panel at BroadwayCon). We get to spend our days dreaming up ways to make our conventions the places our Potter-obsessed younger selves would have loved to visit.
JK Rowling’s world continues to bring me joy every day, and now I get to spend my time sharing that joy with others.
– Sierra Fox, Executive Assistant, Mischief Management
My mom used Dumbledore’s lines to explain to me, age 11, that she wouldn’t be recovering from her cancer.
Harry Potter provided and continues to provide emotional support during the hardest times of my life. My mom got me the first two books after she read a review of Chamber of Secrets while she was at chemotherapy, and everyone in my family became devoted to them. A few years later, she used Dumbledore’s lines – “You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us?” – to explain to me, age 11, that she wouldn’t be recovering from her cancer. She passed away shortly after that.
Not only did I love to read Harry Potter as an escape from a devastating and confusing time, but because I felt like Harry and I understood each other. Maybe in some way we were both boys who lived. Now I’m in my late twenties and the memories I have of my mother have faded a lot. When I read Harry Potter, the gift she gave to me, I feel connected to her and that she, like Lily Potter, never really left me. I don’t think I can ever thank J.K. Rowling enough for something so precious.
– Jack, Buzzfeed User
I didn’t want to read, until my friends told me about a wizard called Harry.
As a young child, I loved my parents reading to me every night. But as I grew older and could read myself, I didn’t, or at least not for pleasure.
I did read some books, mostly at school, but I never felt as engrossed in their world as I could be in mine. I can remember reading a couple of books aimed at boys, with tales of sport, but they did not create a world I was overly keen to join.
This followed me to secondary school, until I heard a lot of my friends reading about some wizard called Harry. For a while I thought this sounded like nonsense and resisted, but in the end I gave in to peer pressure.
From the first chapter, I was hooked. As Harry, Ron and Hermione grew up, so did I.
Harry Potter showed me that reading could be incredibly enjoyable. It led me to try books by other authors, which has paid off many times since. It changed my life because it allowed me to love reading once again.
– Matthew Lawrence, Primary School Teacher
Content courtesy: The Guardian and Buzzfeed