I was part of the large group of people who flocked to book stores at midnight waiting to get my hands on the latest Harry Potter book. Out of all the books I read as a child/young adult the Harry Potter books were my biggest obsession. For a long time, I would re-read the books I had over and over again prompting my father to worry about this unnatural preoccupation with the magical world.
But all obsessions fizzle out over time.
It has now been 9 years since I last read a Harry Potter book and over 12 years since I was obsessively immersed in the universe J.K. Rowling created. I have forgotten why I loved the series so much and what drew me into this series.
A while ago, I decided to re-read my favorite book series (or standalone novels) that I read when I was younger and remember fondly. I know that some books I remember solely because of nostalgia and will no longer enjoy but I also fully expect to come across books that have withstood the test of time.
The Little Things I forgot
I thought I knew the books so well that there couldn't possibly be any surprises in store for me when re-reading Harry Potter. Boy was I wrong!
"...Dumbledore had swapped his pointed wizard's hat for a flowered bonnet..."
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, pg. 203
"...Mr. Weasley had thrown himself at Mr. Malfoy, knocking him backwards into a bookshelf."
-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pg. 63
There are plenty of other examples but they definitely surprised me and gave me a little laugh.
Differences From the Movies
Obviously, there are more details in the books. You get to spend more time with more characters in the books and learn more tidbits about the world. For instance, in the movies it always seems as though Harry, Ron and Hermione are on their own but in the books they are constantly surrounded by other friends too. When they get detention in the first book Neville is with them something they omitted in the movies. So I would argue that you can get a lot more from the books that the movies don't have time to delve into (this is usually always the case).
Things I Never Noticed
There is a lot of bias and discrimination. Teachers constantly favor certain students or punish those who have done nothing to deserve it. There doesn't seem to be any set rules for doling out punishments and rewards. These punishments can even include poisoning pets (Ex: Snape to Neville's toad) or sending off unprepared students on dangerous tasks (ex: searching for what was killing unicorns in the forest). It also seems that everyone has ganged up on Slytherins and decided they are evil from the get-go. All of these things raised many concerns and questions that had never bothered me before when I first read the series. Thus, leading me to conclude that between the discrimination, dangerous creatures, etc. Hogwarts is not the safe haven I thought it was but rather a dangerous place.
Magic might be amazing but there are many aspects of living in the wizarding world that would no longer appeal to me. For instance, I would not trade my smartphone for an owl (emailing/texting is much more efficient). Nor, would I want to go back to writing with a quill and ink on parchment. Of course, the books are set in the 90s so I am not surprised some of these issues were skimmed over/irrelevant at the time. But I do realize how outdated some wizard technology is.
I was quite surprised to find I could still enjoy this book series after so many years (and upon re-reading them so much). Of course, many adults read the series when it first came out too not just children. So, I would venture to say they have definitely withstood the test of time. Of course, I have small grievances with some of the books but overall, I loved revisiting the world of Harry Potter.