When I was seven years old, my mother brought home two paperback books from the discount bin of our local bookshop. She was hoping to entice my older brother, but he didn’t bite.
After enviously watching them languish on the floor of his bedroom, I snuck in and took them, two covers in gorgeous pink and blue, with long and strange titles: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. A few months later, Prisoner of Azkaban was released.
And like that, I was hooked.
For some reason, whatever reason, something about those funny old books stole into my seven year old heart, and never left. Like old friends, they wait for me on my bookshelf. They are worn from 15 years of rereading, with crumpled corners where I have marked my favourite scenes. They bear the stains from tears cried for characters who only lived in my imagination. They spark memories of reading with a torch under the covers, late into the night.
I know where I was when I read every one of those books for the very first time. There is no question that my childhood act of thievery changed my life. Harry Potter changed my life.
And I am not the only one. Harry Potter has been a huge part of the lives of many Hypable staff members. Here, nine more share how Harry Potter has altered their lives for the better. How has it changed yours?
How ‘Harry Potter’ changed our lives
Michal Schick: Harry Potter did not change my life; at least, not in any dramatic way. I already loved to read when I found Harry in sixth grade. I had loving parents and good friends. There was no gaping hole in my life that J.K. Rowling’s words rushed in to fill.
What Harry Potter gave me was the power of possibility. The possibility that I could live and breathe along with characters on a page. The potential to strengthen and forge friendships through mutual love of something incredible. Harry Potter gave me the ability – and the desire – to see beyond my own world, to discover what might be instead of relying on what already was.
Possibility isn’t earth-shattering or grand. Possibility is Neville Longbottom, when most people look for the Chosen One. But as Neville demonstrates with searing clarity, without possibility, there is no change.
And possibility is how Harry Potter changed my life.
Tariq Kyle: Harry Potter changed my life, like it did so many other people on this site, because it led me to new things. While I was growing up and reading those books, instead of coming home and doing homework or watching TV, I would go online and be a part of several text-based role-plays on forums and chats.
It’s actually because of Harry Potter that I spent so much time online – I was role-playing and joining Harry Potter forums and message boards which led to me being interested in writing, and also just being on the Internet and doing graphic design and hanging around online and making friends all over the world.
If it wasn’t for Harry Potter I wouldn’t have gotten into writing at all, and I wouldn’t be at Hypable, and it’s safe to say that I think that Hypable and writing in general for me have been incredibly life changing.
Kristen Kranz: My friends and I spent the balmy Ohio summer of 2004 roasting s’mores around a campfire and debating things like what exactly the last horcrux was, whether Snape was good or evil, and what exactly Rowling meant by that “gleam of triumph” that twinkled in Dumbledore’s eye at the end of Goblet of Fire. We laughed, fought, debated, and made magical memories that I would carry with me into the next stage of my life, college.
Harry Potter connected me to my home when I needed it most. He helped me make new friends, and keep in touch with old ones. Harry did more than introduce me to the magical world that J.K. Rowling imagined into life, he linked my two worlds in a way that made me feel comfortable in my own skin, for which I will be grateful until the very end. Always.
Caitlin Kelly: What Harry Potter gave me was not a love of reading – I was already a voracious reader when my grandmother sent me copy of Prisoner of Azkaban and a note saying that she hoped I hadn’t read it in the sixth grade – but a new way to appreciate fictional worlds. Potter was my introduction to fan fiction, to podcasts, to community, to fandom.
And, perhaps more interestingly, Potter introduced me to the idea of studying the literary merits of popular fiction. Just because it wasn’t written by an old, dead white man didn’t mean it wasn’t critically viable. Just because it was about magic didn’t mean it wasn’t critically viable. So while other students in graduate school salivated over experimental fiction, I stood my ground for the sake of Potter and popular works like it and vowed to one day to teach my own Harry Potter class.
Karen Rought: The impact the Harry Potter series had on my life is hard to quantify. I didn’t have friends who understood my deep connection with the story, nor did I have fandom in my life like I do today. Having such a solitary experience with the books, I realize that although they didn’t affect me externally, a lot of my strongest values were learned by reading this series.
Harry Potter taught me to be proud of who I am. It taught me that sometimes the best people can make the worst decisions, and that even the misguided can be changed by love. It taught me that all you need to get through life is a few great friends.
Harry Potter isn’t just a book series; it’s an experience. And it’s one that I’m so glad I underwent when I did. Growing up with Harry Potter shaped my life, and I know — without a doubt — that I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.
Brandi Delhagen: It’s hard to remember the years before Harry Potter entered my life. He came in during hard times with my family close to falling apart. I attended roughly 10 different grade schools in several states and needless to say, long distance friendships in your years as a child and pre-teens don’t really work out.
Harry, Ron and Hermione became the people I felt the closest to. Their friendship was something that I craved and cherished. I remember staying up all night dissecting each book trying to solve its mystery and assisting the trio in locating the horcruxes. Those were some of my greatest childhood memories.
I attended my first midnight release for Goblet of Fire in 2000 and that was the moment I realized what fandom truly was. I was then introduced to fanfiction and a plethora of other fandoms which drew me to many different sites, including Hypable. Harry Potter helped mold who I am today. He was my childhood and I could never imagine one without him in it.
Kristina Lintz: I spent the first 15 years of my life hating Harry Potter. Then I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in five hours on December 4th, 2007. I finished the entire series two weeks later. It was my freshman year of high school and looking back, a major was a turning point in my life. I’d come home from school and log onto the computer, developing stronger relationships with people I’ve known for merely months than with people I’ve known for years.
Over the past six years, I’ve attended Harry Potter conventions, met some of my best friends from around the world, and have grown as a reader and a writer. It’s scary to think where I would be without the saga and it is hard to quantify how much Harry Potter has positively affected my life – both directly and indirectly. I probably wouldn’t be writing for Hypable, nor would I know as many of the amazing people I do now. I sobbed for hours after the final movie faded to black not because the series was over, but because I was so grateful for all the doors it had opened for me.
Ariana Quiñónez: I was eight when I read my first Harry Potter book. J.K. Rowling was on ‘60 Minutes,’ and knowing that I aspired to write, my dad called me over to watch the British lady that was taking over the world with her quirky children’s books. The next weekend we discovered Chamber of Secrets at my local Barnes and Noble, and by the time fifth grade rolled around, I was smuggling Goblet of Fire under the table in class.
Am I a fundamentally different person because of Harry Potter? I started reading so young that there’s little barometer to judge what my life is against what it might be. I do know that because of these books, I grew up valuing loyalty and trust in friendships. I grew up yearning for adventure. I know that Hermione gave me the confidence to be smart as a kid, and as a teenager, Luna gave me the confidence to be different. And all along the way, Harry Potter made me aspire to be brave, to be kind, to be good.
Pamela Gocobachi: It’s hard to imagine life without having read Harry Potter but the funny part is that I almost didn’t read it at all. I was 12 years old when my brother brought home Sorcerer’s Stone and I refused to read it because I thought “that nerdy kid on the cover with glasses” looked “like a total dork.” Oh how wrong I was. When I finally caved a few months later, I instantly fell in love and it’s been a downward spiral ever since.
I realized the biggest impact Harry Potter has had on my life on the night Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 came out in theaters. I sat in my chair in the theater and cried when the credits rolled but not for the reasons I thought I would. I expected I’d be crying over the end of the series but instead, I cried because I realized how incredibly lucky I was to have come into a fandom that had in turn introduced me to the people who are now some of my very best friends in the entire world. Some people say that the best friends you will ever make in your life are the ones you grow up with but I met the best friends I’ve ever made in my 20s and I owe it all to a funny looking kid with glasses and a lightning bolt scar.