I couldn’t talk about favourite authors without mentioning J.K. Rowling. It was her books that introduced me to the world of reading and made me want to better my ability to read. Imagine a young six year old girl, who was angry, frustrated and sad, because she couldn’t read to the same level of her peers around her. I simply couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting something that my friends around me claimed was interesting. At aged seven I remember feeling high levels of embarrassment, when at the school book fair, my peers had moved up to the middle bookcase (blue I believe), while I was still stuck on the easy bookcase (yellow.) I didn’t think I would ever get to grips with reading and was ready to put the whole experience behind me.
When I turned seven, something magical happened. J. K. Rowling published her first Harry Potter book and as my Mum read it to me, a couple of chapters a night, I realised something was happening to me. I was excited, I was invested. This was a book I wanted to devour. This was a book I loved. This was the book that was going to teach me how to read like the others around me. When the second book came out, I begged my Mum to read more chapters a night to me. When the third book came out, I could read quite well by myself and had become invested in reading what was available to me but reading the Harry Potter books had become a family bonding moment. My Dad read the third book and we always joke that my Dad is heavily dyslexic while I am only mildly dyslexic. As a result, Sirius was pronounced Sy-Rus for the majority of the third book until my Mum corrected my Dad.
I was ten when The Goblet of Fire came out. We read it as a family and then I read it myself. I remember being proud that I had come so far and could now read as confidently as my peers. The love for Harry Potter quickly crossed over into obsession and it became my safe haven away from the troubles I had growing up, the lack of friends and the difficulty I had with never fitting in. Out of the series, I loved The Goblet of Fire the most, it has remained my favourite book and is in quite a poor condition now because it has been read so much over the years.
The Order of the Phoenix came out when I was 13 and by that point, reading as a family had ceased. I read the book by myself, almost devoured the pages. I could recite minor points of the series to anyone near (though this action just made me appear weirder to my peers), I knew that I wanted to be apart of the Harry Potter universe and it became such a part of my life that I am forever grateful for all it has given me.
By 2005 I was fifteen and the arrival of The Half-Blood Prince was one of the highlights of the year for me. By this point many of my peers had been calling me Luna Lovegood but in an unpleasant sneering voice, meant to bring me down, not to build me up. I related a lot to Luna in school and have always loved her character. I didn’t mind being called her in school but the way in which it was called was always a little hurtful.
By the time I was sixteen, Harry Potter had become the biggest impact on my life. It taught me that it was alright to be different and to follow my own path. It gave me the confidence to seek out other books and to widen my reading spectrum. It helped me to overcome the problems being dyslexic caused while reading. It gave me this large and expansive world in which to play in. The Harry Potter books made me feel like I belonged somewhere, even if it was in the pages of a book and not somewhere in real life.
The final book came out when I was seventeen and while I was on holiday in Australia. I remember crying while I was reading and feeling smug that I finished the book before the girl I was sharing my room with. I felt both saddened and elated when the story came to a close.
When I was nineteen, and while being at university, I discovered fan fiction and most importantly Harry Potter fan fiction. This sparked a decade long love of fan fiction and the stories I found. It even sparked me to write my own Harry Potter fan fiction and allowed me to creatively manipulate the characters I’d loved for so long into the scenarios I would have liked to have seen them in.
I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child soon after it came out and rather enjoyed it (unpopular opinion, I know). I watched the first Fantastic Beasts with weariness.
It was during the time between the first and second Fantastic Beasts film that I began to explore how disappointed I was with J.K. Rowling. Don’t get me wrong, my love for the Harry Potter books has never wavered but my love for J. K. Rowling has diminished a little. All these added ‘canon’ bits she keeps coming out with when they haven’t been mentioned in ‘canon’ at all are starting to drive me a little insane. I don’t have twitter, for which I’m glad, so I don’t see her annoying tweets, I only hear about them after the fact. I guess it disappoints me because it makes me feel like she’s selling out just to keep herself relevant. Like the books are so popular, they’re always going to be known by someone, we don’t need her coming out and saying nagini was once a woman, when there is no backstory canon to support it.
Rant aside, (because I could rant about these things till the cows come home), Harry Potter will always remain my most favourite book series, and J. K. Rowling one of my favourite authors for giving me the chance to break out of my box and accomplish something that people around me thought I never would.