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BOOKWORM: The magical world of Harry Potter

By Kathleen Duncan
July 17, 2013 at 2:17 a.m.


A young man grows up neglected and unloved in his aunt and uncle's house. He curls up to sleep each night with the spiders and dust in the cupboard under the stairs, hoping that tomorrow will be better. Then, one fateful day, he gets a letter.

Not just any letter, the letter that changes his whole life.

Harry, it turns out, is a wizard.

To this day, it still surprises me when someone has not read the Harry Potter novels.

Not because they became a blockbuster movie hit or because they have been on the bestseller list for so many years.

Not because they have been translated into multiple languages worldwide or because the premiere for the final movie probably had more guests than a royal wedding.

But because the Harry Potter books are freakin' great books.

Everyone should read them. All ages. Regardless of whether you haven't picked up a book in a year or you read every day. Read them. Afterwards, a little part of you will have changed. You'll never be the same again.

I admit, my little sister was the first to love them. I stood in line with her when she was just a tot to get her book signed by J.K. Rowling. We stood in line for hours in the sun, waiting. I was honestly, completely, bored. At that point, with only a couple out in print, they were still considered children's books, so I hadn't cracked them open.

Then one day, I sat down and read them. And that was it - I was hooked for life.

I can't tell you exactly what it is about these books that speaks so strongly to everyone who reads them.

It could be the humor, intelligence and humanity of the characters - the way they make mistakes, act their age and tend to get into scrapes more than they should. They run off without thinking, acting impulsively but with the best of intentions.

Or it could be that despite the fact that this amazing magical world exists, it doesn't necessarily make life any easier or solve any problems. Their world may be a little more fantastical than our own, but we can still relate to their daily struggles.

(Well, except the whole Voldemort trying to annihilate Harry at every turn. Can't relate to that and don't feel the need to. Good luck with that, kid.)

Then again, it could be the great adventures themselves. Situations so out of this world, they spark our imaginations just to bring them into existence.

From finding the Sorcerer's Stone when Harry is just a kid to competing in the Triwizard Tournament years later, the wizards and witches we grow to love have the complications of school work, friendships and family on top of saving the world with the turn of every page.

I think, though, that the real magic of these books is the wizarding world that Rowling created: the sheer detail from the beginning in Harry's cupboard under the stairs to the final battle between good and evil, everything from the school supply lists full of cauldrons and wands, to the house elves and class competitions.

The world that Rowling created makes each reader yearn for the wizarding world to actually exist.

Our portraits do not move and speak to us. Our chocolates don't jump out of the wrapper. Our classes don't teach us to change a mouse into a drinking cup. We are not able to fly through the air on a broomstick accompanied by the blare of trumpets and the cheers of a crowd at our sporting events. We, sadly, have never met a dragon, swam with merpeople or been sorted by a singing hat.

After finishing the series, we muggles cannot help but wish that we, too, could hear the peck of an owl at our window and the swoosh of a letter into our lives - that someday, somehow, we could venture from this humdrum everyday existence, into the magical world of Harry Potter.

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