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Maybe I’m not a Gryffindor: 20 Years of Harry Potter

I have taken approximately a bajillion sorting hat quizzes online, and I’ve always cheated. It’s obvious which answers will put you in Gryffindor, so I’ve always selected the most Gryffindorish answers. After a lot of careful thought, if I’m being honest I have to admit that I’m probably actually in Ravenclaw – although Harry Potter, himself, was able to convince the sorting hat that he belonged in Gryffindor, so who knows.

I’m a few years older than the gang at Hogwarts, but I feel like I grew up with Harry Potter. The world celebrated the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (my American edition was the “Sorcerer’s Stone”) this week, and I’ve been reflecting on just how much Harry Potter has meant in my life. Spoiler: it’s meant a lot, and I’m feeling nostalgic.

Friendships: The Coterie

The third and fourth installments came out when I was in high school. I started a new school in tenth grade, and I wasn’t sure where I fit in. I discovered that Annie and Alanna loved Harry Potter and other YA literature, and we eagerly read the books together. As we sat in the hallway discussing dementors, a teacher walked by and called us the Coterie of Readers. Annie, Alanna, and I still hold Coterie meetings to this day, 15 years later. We may have expanded our reading material (still largely dystopian young adult fiction!), but it is Harry Potter that brought our book club together.

Life Milestones

I remember desperately searching for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in Jerusalem, where I studied abroad for a summer; I was euphoric when I found it in an English language bookstore! When I moved to Texas for my first job after college graduation, I stayed up all night reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I realized then that “I stayed up all night reading Harry Potter” is not a legitimate reason to call out sick. As you can see, my pregnancy announcement exclaimed, “Mischief Managed!” And for a hot second I thought my baby might be born on July 31, which is Harry Potter’s birthday (he wasn’t born until August 2, but my induction started on July 31!). Harry Potter has been with me through some major life events and transitions.

Hermione is the Best

Hermione is a total badass. I love that she’s not just there to be Harry’s love interest, but that she has real friendships with the guys. She’s bossy and brilliant. She saves the day more than once. She’s not your classic damsel in distress. It’s refreshing to come across a strong female character like Hermione. I know that I was supposed to identify with Harry, as the protagonist, but he’s kind of an idiot (I say this lovingly). Hermione is where it’s at. I want to be like Hermione.

The Joy of Fandom Culture

Going to the midnight showing of the newest Harry Potter movie in costume and clapping at the end. Staying up all night to read the newest books. Discovering online communities full of people who love Hogwarts. Debating the merits of each house, and taking house sorting quizzes. Discussing the rules of Quidditch… and playing Quidditch. Writing a blog post about why you love Harry Potter so much. Harry Potter nail art. Expecto Patronum!

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  • I would always cheat at the quizzes too! I actually answered honestly when I did the Pottermore test, and have since learned to embrace the badger 🙂

    • Hannah Pearlman

      EMBRACE THE BADGER!!!! yes <3