Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Account of Reading Harry Potter for the First Time

This post contains some Harry Potter spoilers.  If you have yet to read the books, or seen the movies, you have been warned.  I will also expect an apology, and I question our friendship.

I first learned of Harry Potter in 5th grade.  I’m assuming it was in the second half of the year, but no promises – actually, it might have been the first half, but not that important.  Moving on.  It was great class because there was already a big presence of football and star wars in the classroom, so I was in my element – Skyler nerdvana.  So anyways, the teacher started reading it, and I fell in love with it.  I didn’t like the idea of waiting to hear the end of it, so I went out and got the book – and by that I mean my parents bought it for me.  I finished it in time for a class book report that we had to do, but the teacher asked me not to spoil the ending, so I couldn’t say too much about it in the report.  But by the time it was all done, I was hooked on the books, and wanted more.

If I remember correctly, I got the 2nd book the same way I got the 1st, through my parents.  As a side note, I think I got it from Christensen’s (same with book 3 and 4).  I don’t really remember my experience with books 2 or 3 because they weren’t events.  I got the books and read them as soon as I could.  I don’t remember much about two, other than I liked it more than 1, and the only thing I remember about 3 is how I took the book with me everywhere.  I recall reading it at my brother’s city league basketball grade out in the hallway when someone spoiled a small part of the book.  I won’t name names because I’m facebook friends with the person. I doubt they would read this, or remember the event, but still, no need to be mean.

I don’t remember the specifics around book 4, other than it took me 2 days to read it and at this point I was a known Harry Potter nerd.  I got asked at church how many days it took for me to read the book, and when I said 2, the person who asked me laughed and said he knew someone who was so proud he read it in 3 days, but figured I had read it in a shorter time, so decided to ask me while at church.  Goblet of Fire was also when I started to really think about the series and notice little things mentioned in the text.  I’m not sure why, but I’m sure some of it was due to the fact that I couldn’t keep reading to my heart’s content but that I had to wait. 

One of the things I noticed that I still have no answer for to this day is at the end of Goblet of Fire (when I first wrote this post [it took a long time] I didn't have an answer, but now I think I do), Harry is talking to Dumbledore and Harry mentions that Voldemort is back, and there is a line about something in Dumbledore’s eye, be it a gleam or fire or something of that nature.  I don’t want to look it up.  The point being, at this time, I started guessing what it could mean, or what could happen next.  Let’s just say my guess was wrong, and I have some new theories, but either way, I was hooked and waiting for the next book release.

            The movies were released, which helped ease my pain and waiting, but still, I needed more books.  During the summer of 2003 – the year Order of the Phoenix was released – I had youth conference up at SUU cabin.  It turns out the release date of book 5 was one of the last days of youth conference.  This made me none too happy, though youth conference wasn’t horrible.  I do remember not feeling super great at the end of the day, and I made sure to play it up so I could go home a day early and read the new book. 

Fortunately my mother knew of my situation, and I was able to get the book the next morning.  I still remember how I would read book 5 and 6 (they each took 2 days as well).  Sometimes it was in the chair in my parents’ living room.  Other times it was laying on the couch, and rotating which side I was laying on, while also rotating the book with me.  I do enjoy the book, but I also have some hateful feelings towards certain parts of the book. Those parts would be Umbridge, Sirius being killed off, Umbridge, the moodiness and angst of Harry, and of course Umbridge.  Other than that, I love this book too.  But I really hate Umbridge.  I just wanted to make that clear.

So there was more waiting for book 6, and more speculation and guessing on my part – again, all of it wrong.  The circumstances to the acquisition of book 6 were very similar to book 5, except instead of youth conference, I was at Helaman’s Camp.  I’m not sure why the last two books had conflicting schedules with my church stuff, but I wasn’t happy about it.  This time I couldn’t leave early though.  I did encourage my dad to drive really fast though on the way home.  I got home, showered (3 days of no showering and manual labor…Even I thought I should shower before reading Harry Potter), and then went to buy the book.  That might have been the first Harry Potter I bought with my own money.

So I read and read and read and read (it was a Saturday) and I surprisingly took a break for a birthday party.  I’m not sure why I did, but I did.  I won’t say my mom forced me to go, but she strongly encouraged me to get out of the house.  The fact that I went is still kind of surprising, I mean I didn’t even have a romantic interest in anyone who would be there, so I’m still shocked.  All I remember is that I went to the party for a little bit, and then came home and kept reading until sometime late. 

I had church the next day, and a girl in the ward was bragging how she was already done and some other junk.  I was mad because I would have been done too had I had all day to read it, but that didn’t seem to matter.  Also, I don’t know why I thought that was such a big deal, but it was (and it was for book 7 too).  She also offered to spoil who died, but I wasn’t having any of that.  Anyway, I got home from church and read and read and read.  Finally I got to the part where Dumbledore died.  I put the book down and walked away.  I think for a good half hour, I wouldn’t pick the book back up because of that.  I don’t know why I took it so personally, but I just sat and thought about it in a mad/bitter state.  I never liked Snape, and I thought that he had betrayed Dumbledore.  After reading the 7th book, I still don’t like Snape, but at least I understood the motives.  Anyway, I eventually finished the book, but it emotionally took a lot out of me.

The waiting game began again.  I did some small guessing, one of which I finally got right.  I figured out who R.A.B. was pretty quickly (I don’t remember if it was because I had previously reread the series or what, but I believe I guessed it while still reading the book), but couldn’t figure out why he took the Horcrux, or why Dumbledore had to die.

            So the final wait was on.  Fortunately, I had my junior and senior year to distract me.  I made sure to keep up on the rumors using J.K. Rowling’s website (back when it looked cooler than it does now).  I don’t think any of the spoilers were right, but I’m sure someone out there knows if any were right.

            The day finally came for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to come out.  I was ready to go.  I had the whole day free, I had several Amp energy drinks in the fridge, and I was ready to campout to get the book.  I was hanging out with friends that evening, counting down to midnight.  At some point I went and got snacks at Smith’s, and noticed some people there also waiting in line for the new book.  So I went back to the store on Main Street to keep waiting with my friends.  As a funny side note, it was the first time I remember playing phase 10, and I was horrible at it.  My wife would probably argue I’m not much better now, but that’s not the point.

            Midnight came and I eventually got my book while in line.  Turns out because I didn’t reserve the book by paying the extra $5+ a month in advance.  I was livid.  I had waited all day for this moment and it was taken away from me.  Somewhat fortunately, a friend of mine was in the same predicament.  So we hopped in my car and drove over to Smith’s.  There were plenty of books to go around, and few people to actually grab them.  There was enough people that there was a line for checkout, so we started reading in line.  We didn’t get too far before we had to go.  I drove him home and then raced home myself so I could keep reading.

            I grabbed the energy drinks from the fridge and started reading.  It was awesome.  I was texting a few people that I knew were reading it as well.  They had a head start on me, so I didn’t feel too bad about being behind.  Eventually everyone said they were going to bed and would pick it back up in the morning.  I kept going and going and going.  I think I only stopped for a few bathroom breaks (I did have a few energy drinks) and I did take a whole 15 minutes to eat breakfast. 

I eventually finished before noon.  It was (sadly) one of my proudest moments (I take that back I’m still proud of it) up to that point.  I’m no speed reader, so for me to get through that fast, and be that dedicated.  Anyway, I’ll quit patting myself on the back – in a minute.  I had texted the few friends from the night before and told them I had finished, and that they were in for a treat.  I don’t think it was more than 5 people I had texted.  Yet, somehow some friends had heard that I had finished it and told me that they were impressed.  My nerdy proudness knows no bounds.  Now I’m done with the self-promotion.

At this point, my good buddy Randon was off serving his mission, and he would write on occasion.  He was better at guessing what was going to happen than I was.  I didn’t want to spoil it for him, so I never would confirm nor deny anything.  I never did ask him when he eventually read it.  Maybe I should do that.  Randon, if for some reason you read this blog, and you got this far, you should let me know.

That was that.  It was a rewarding experience to finish, but it was also sad.  I had grown up with Harry, and now it was over.  I think that might be part of the reason I love the books so much – I feel like a kid again when I read them, and that I’m able to go back and visit my friend.  It was the first book series that I started and read in order.  After I started reading Harry Potter, I decided reading other series in order would be important, but Harry Potter started it off for me.

Well enough of that emotional mess.  I’m going to go back to watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and then I may find some youtube clips of Diagon Alley.  I may write more at some point – but it could take me months to get there (this one took much longer than I meant it to).  If you stuck through this post, I hope it was worth it.  If you didn’t, I don’t blame you.

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