There are some things I want to be able to say I like without feeling the need to explain why, and Harry Potter is one of them. I like Harry Potter. I like it because it makes me happy, and I feel that that is enough. The only few people I've met who actively dislike Harry Potter seem to be fellow literary types, and it doesn't interest me at all to talk about the literary merits of it. Although I hold a bachelor of arts in Writing & Literature and obviously understand the beauty & art of a well crafted piece of literature, I increasingly feel that the true purpose of books, or rather of fiction (other than educating people, of course) should just be to make people happy. I'm starting a literary theory & criticism class next week, and I feel that I could A) find it interesting & educational, or B) hate it, since "reading makes people happy!" probably isn't going to be covered in the class. But I digress. Like most Harry Potter fans, I love the books best but love the movies too, and having anything to be excited and silly about - like midnight releases of the newest Harry Potter movie - makes life better.
I started thinking last night as we waited in the theater about how long this phenomenon has been going on for me, and how in that fact alone it will probably wind up being one of the most important cultural experiences of my life. I started reading the first few books way back before any movie was made, staying up late reading in my bedroom in Pennsylvania, where all of my greatest and most intense reading experiences occurred, because everyone's greatest and most intense reading experiences occur when they are kids, and have the ability (and time) to let their creative mind wander out of control and become entranced in stories. The movie stars have long since taken over what my own visions of Harry and Ron and Hermione and Hogwarts were, but I've grown okay with that. And although not related to the movie that came out today, which I loved, here is one of the best things that has happened to me in the last few years: the last Harry Potter book was released; we waited at midnight to get our reserved copies at the Borders in Downtown Crossing in Boston, started reading on the T ride home. I think we had specifically asked off of work for the next day so we could read it, which is remarkably nerdy but just who we are. And aside from going out at night for a few hours (which I forced myself to do), for an entire day and a half, I did absolutely nothing but read a book. And I felt so inside of that book that the thought of doing anything else was hard to comprehend. For a moment, I was part of another world, transported in a way I used to do so easily when I was a kid in a bedroom in Pennsylvania. There is something about Harry Potter which melts away the entire world around me in a complete, impressive way, where thoughts of what I have to buy the next day at the grocery store or what I have to do that week for homework or what kind of silly drama will occur at work or if I'll get around to that huge pile of dirty dishes and huge pile of laundry in the apartment - they don't even begin to filter through my head for even a second, and that feeling - no matter what it is that makes you feel that, Harry Potter or no - is probably my favorite feeling in the world.