Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: It’s time for a reread

J.K. Rowling 1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 7. Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’m pretty sure every person in the western world knows who Harry Potter is and knows the basic story line. Harry Potter was The Boy Who Lived. Both his parents were killed by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the evil Lord Voldemort, but he survived the attack, somehow causing Voldemort to disappear. Now Harry is eleven, and off to his first year at Hogwarts wizarding school. But it seems like Voldemort is making a resurgence. Is Harry safe, even under the watchful eye of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore?

I recently felt a desire to go back and reread the HARRY POTTER books. I know I have a stack of books sitting on my bedside table that I need to read, and I will, but sometimes the lure of going back to visit an old friend is just too strong to be resisted. Sometimes this leads to disappointment, as books don’t live up to their memory, but I am happy to say that HARRY POTTER is as wonderful as I remember it being. It’s hard to believe that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came out in 1999, so it’s been thirteen years. I took a poll of my friends on Facebook last night about which book or series they would keep if they were only allowed to keep one, and the majority of them said HARRY POTTER. For a bunch of adults with widely varied reading habits, that’s a pretty significant recognition, especially when you consider that it was originally written as a middle-grade to YA series.

So why the overwhelming love for these books? Because they are wonderful and magical and make another world come alive. I was reading this book and I would notice a huge smile on my face. There are lines of dialog that I remember verbatim after all these years. And unlike a lot of books pitched at this age group, there isn’t any sex, drugs or vampire worship. Instead, these books are about friendship and bravery and loyalty without being preachy about it. It’s rare to find a book that teaches such important messages without sacrificing the plot. There’s a reason why this book ignited such an amazing world-wide fandom, and it’s because it’s fantastic. Seriously.

I’m not sure this review is going to do anything for anyone, because it seems that everyone has already read the HARRY POTTER books, but if you haven’t, you really should. If you ask anyone who spent their high school years in the 90s what the most important song of the decade was, you’re almost guaranteed to get “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana as your answer. I don’t think this last decade has had a similarly seminal song. But it had the Harry Potter phenomenon, and I can’t think of a similarly influential book or series of books from the earlier decade to match the effect these books had on the publishing industry, the movie industry or a generation of readers.

So, if you haven’t read Harry Potter, you should. Right now. You’ll thank me.

Harry Potter — (1997-2007) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

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RUTH ARNELL is a professor of political science in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

View all posts by Ruth Arnell

3 comments

  1. I need to reread these. They just popped back into my head because Order of the Phoenix was on TV over the holiday and I watched it with my boyfriend, who is sort of a Potter neophyte–I was doing running commentary to explain stuff. ;) (“Why is there a dog all of a sudden?” “Oh, that’s Gary Oldman’s character.”) I just love these books. I know they have some flaws if picked apart, but they’re so funny and so warm, especially up until that last one with all the (&*%(&^%( character deaths!

  2. Are you going to review all of them? Please, say you are!

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