fantasy · ya

Operation Return to Hogwarts: Year One

Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts. Like millions (billions?) of other readers around the globe, Harry Potter has my heart and has had it for years. I remember when I first discovered it – my mom bought the Sorcerer’s Stone for my 9th birthday. It had only been out a few months at this point and was starting to gain a following, but I was completely unfamiliar with it and, honestly, wasn’t too interested in opening it so I held off for a bit. When I finally did sit down to read though, it was all over for me. I was sold.

Eventually AOL created HP message boards and if anyone remembers Leah Riddle or Loki Riddle, HIIII~ I ended up meeting some of my very best friends there and a decade+ later our friendships are still going strong (take that, you naysayers that insist real friendships can’t be formed online.) In 2008 a friend and I flew to Chicago to take part in Terminus, a convention where we jammed to wizard rock, got sorted into houses, attended a ball, and even played Quidditch – our team reached the semi-finals and even went up against a professional team. We made it to the Chicago papers too! (I’ll definitely have to do some tbt photos on instagram, that week was an absolute blast.

ANYWAY, I love Harry Potter. A lot. Yet I haven’t read the series since Deathly Hallows came out eight years ago. With each release I would go back and reread the previous books in the series, but once it was all said and done a part of me was terrified of revisiting these books. Would they still hold up after all these years? Would it feel different reading them ‘alone’ instead of with millions of other people at the same time?

Over the weekend I made the decision to finally – finally – start from the beginning and I feel absolutely ridiculous for being so worried. I actually jumped into Chamber of Secrets immediately after finishing Sorcerer’s Stone and that’s something I NEVER do. I never ever EVER binge read series in one go. At least not since blogging – years ago I loved to do it and this weekend I discovered why I loved it so much.

I decided to do a mini series dubbed Operation Return to Hogwarts to jot down my thoughts/feelings/whatever else I want to discuss. These won’t be actual reviews – plenty of those exist.

I DIDN’T REALIZE THE WRITING WAS SO YOUNG. The first thing that stuck out for me when rereading SS was just how young the style was. Naturally, Harry is only 10/turning 11 in this book, but I now completely understand why adult readers who had never read the series find it a bit hard to get into. As someone who loooves Middle Grade, though, I didn’t mind, I was just a bit surprised. As he ages the writing style and voice matures as well (and as Jo became more experience, I suppose) so it would make sense that I forgot about the younger tone.

I FORGOT ABOUT A TON OF CHARACTERS. Minor ones though, I promise! Hahahaha, it’s not like I forgot about Dumbledore or anyone – but instead secondary characters like Mrs. Figg (how did I forget about Mrs. Figg??) and Norbert! ♥ Norbie I’m so sorry.

MCGONAGALL IS KIND OF A B. At least in the opening scenes/early chapters. When I think of her, I imagine a total BAMF and was shocked when I noticed her characterization here was more severe than I remembered. Also, when she and Dumbledore meet on Privet Drive (just before Hagrid drops off a baby Harry) their interactions/conversations felt really odd. As though they didn’t know one another and hadn’t been working together for years. Maybe that’s just me being overly critical these days. Either way, in the beginning of the book I felt as though McGonagall (one of my favorite characters) was set up to be a character to dislike.

I GOT THE BOOKS MIXED UP. Obviously not the Big Pictures (I know the Triwizard Tournament doesn’t take place in the second book, etc) but small things I misremembered. The zoo scene with the snake, in my mind, happened in CoS. I was shocked while reading about detention in the Forbidden Forest. Somehow I connected that to Aragog and convinced myself that happens in PoA. Having read the scene, however, I feel like an idiot. I’m discovering all sorts of details I knew at one time but had forgotten over the years.

I’M HOME. After all these years, Harry and Hogwarts hold such a large part of my heart and all weekend I was kicking myself for waiting so, so long to return to these books. Now that I have, I think I’ll have a hard time tearing myself away to read other books!

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8 thoughts on “Operation Return to Hogwarts: Year One

  1. I’ve just been rereading all the HP books (I’m on the last one now). I loved it just as much this time as when I read it when the books first came out, but I definitely noticed different things, and reacted differently to events, this time around.

  2. Your last comment, about being home, really struck a chord with me. I feel the same way about the series. It is such a rare book that can do that for readers. Jo managed to do it with seven of them. Amazing.

  3. This is a fun idea! Love your comments on your read so far. I reread book one back in March when I was on vacation. I had planned to reread the series this summer, but it never happened. Perhaps I will this winter.

    Looking forward to more of these posts!

  4. I’ve also decided to go back to the beginning starting with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (as my UK/CA copy calls it). I got it for my 8th birthday and now my LO is 7, I’m getting to experience it with him. It is so much fun getting to relive this part of my childhood and share my love of Hogwarts with my own kids (who have seen and love the movies so much). I can’t wait to read more posts on this series.

  5. I love this and I want to follow along! I have the exact same plan in mind for re-reading the series and jotting down thoughts starting after Christmas…I am trying to hold off until then (I don’t know why but just because?!). Off to follow your blog so I can read more of these posts!!

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