Eeek! I’m having so much fun rereading Harry Potter! I don’t think I’ve picked up this series in more than five years, so it’s definitely time for a reread.
I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone more than 15 years ago as a nine-year-old. I believe my mom started reading the series out loud to me and my siblings and cousins, but I quickly became invested and started reading ahead on my own. I’ve read the book innumerable times since then, but it’s been awhile since my last reread and I’m definitely overdue.
This time, I actually decided to read the new British paperback set I recently bought, so I technically read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the first time. I’m familiar enough with British terminology that I didn’t have any problems understanding it, though I will admit I had to look it up and confirm that “revise” means “study” in British English. It just sounded so weird hearing them say they were revising their notes!
The covers are gorgeous and I love how colorful the spines are and the use of gold foil for the title and the stars. Plus they used the most amazing material for the covers. I’m disappointed there weren’t any illustrations at the beginning of the chapters, though! It’s a small thing, but it’s important to the experience of reading the American editions.
Right off the bat, it was so much fun to rediscover the world of Harry Potter. Dumbledore! Hagrid! The Dursleys! But it was also really cool to start the series knowing how it ends, because then you can see how much groundwork Rowling is laying right away in the first chapter, like the reference to Sirius Black.
And then, of course, this happened: “Harry – yer a wizard.” It’s just too much!!! The beginning just reminded me how desperately I wanted to receive a Hogwarts letter as a kid. Though let’s be honest, I still do!
Rowling just does such an amazing job creating a rich world that you desperately want to slip through the pages and visit. And the best part is, it could be all around us right now and we just don’t know it, making the imagination even more engaged in the book. I think that might be a large part of what makes the whole series so captivating, at least for me.
I loved seeing some of my favorite characters introduced for the first time and rereading lines that I remember revisiting whenever I wanted a laugh, like Fred and George commenting that they’ve heard Percy mention he’s a prefect:
Or when Hermione gets mad at Harry and Ron after they accidentally discovered Fluffy and tells them, “I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed – or worse, expelled.” We definitely know she has her priorities in order!
Another favorite moment of mine was when they went down the trapdoor:
“Devil’s Snare, Devil’s Snare…What did Professor Sprout say? It likes the dark and the damp–”
“So light a fire!” Harry choked.
“Yes – of course – but there’s no wood!” Hermione cried, wringing her hands.
“HAVE YOU GONE MAD?” Ron bellowed. “ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?”
I think part of the magic of the series is to switch from comic moments like these to one a little bit later, when Hagrid gives Harry a gift:
It seemed to be a handsome, leather-covered book. Harry opened it curiously. It was full of wizard photographs. Smiling and waving at him from every page were his mother and father.
“Sent owls off ter all yer parents’ old school friends, askin’ for photos…Knew yeh didn’t have any…D’yeh like it?”
Harry couldn’t speak, but Hagrid understood.
And then, of course, I can’t help but tear up and cheer when Dumbledore announces at the farewell feast:
“There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom.”
Someone standing outside the Great Hall might well have thought some sort of explosion had taken place, so loud was the noise that erupted from Gryffindor table.
There are just so many touching moments throughout the book that you can’t help but fall in love with the characters and their story. And there’s just the right amount of humor, displayed again in this parting scene:
“Hope you have – er – a good holiday,” said Hermione, looking uncertainly after Uncle Vernon, shocked that anyone could be so unpleasant.
“Oh, I will,” said Harry, and they were surprised at the grin that was spreading over his face. “They don’t know we’re not allowed to use magic at home. I’m going to have a lot of fun with Dudley this summer…”
It’s an excellent beginning to the series, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one.