So, how many of you have a Harry Potter origin story? I know a ton of people read the series, of course, but there is a special segment of that fanbase who really went all out. Did you attend midnight releases of the books? Did you buy tons of Potter-related merchandise? Did you read thousands of words of fanfiction (and maybe write some of your own) to bridge the gaps between books? Did you make lists of all the things the movies got wrong? If you answered “yes” to two or more of these, then you might enjoy the following post. Because I am in the throes of some major Potter nostalgia and I’ve got to share it with some sympathetic souls.
My origin story consists of a teacher reading Sorcerer’s Stone aloud to the class when I was in fifth grade. I don’t even remember why she was doing this, but the books were just beginning to get popular and only three of them had been released at the time. The book caught my interest immediately and I just remember spending all of Christmas break that year devouring the three books that were out at the time. From there it was a slow progression of becoming more and more obsessed. And this recent bout of nostalgia has been an oddly slow progression, as well.
When the book series ended, I went through what some might call “post-Potter depression,” wherein I had trouble reading anything else and was annoyed by the number of people leaving the Potter fandom. We all knew it would happen one day, but when the fervor did start to die down, it hit me hard. Eventually I moved on, obviously. I still reread Sorcerer’s Stone at Christmas every year because it just feels like a Christmas book to me, but I haven’t felt that old obsession in years.
Just a few weeks ago, I started bringing podcasts to work on my MP3 player so that I could listen to them while performing some of my more tedious tasks. On a whim, I decided to download some classic episodes of Mugglecast, the Harry Potter podcast put out by Mugglenet.com. I had listened to episodes here and there when they were first coming out, but I hadn’t been a devoted listener. And suddenly I am a devoted listener of these podcast episodes from 2006.
Once I listened to Mugglecast again, I’d caught the bug. I started surfing around to see which websites – if any – are still active. For the record, Mugglenet and The Leaky Cauldron are still updating their sites on a daily basis, which is pretty impressive. I even found some forums that have active participants to this day!
After that, I had to start admitting that the obsession was back. I started telling people. And once the secret was out, there was nothing that could hold me back. I’m spending time on Pottermore, I brought a Hogwarts pin to put in my cubicle at work, and I bought a Hogwarts sweatshirt last weekend. I even went on a quest to find the DVDs that I didn’t yet own, so now I have all seven movies at my disposal if I need a Potter fix.
The only thing I have not yet done is launch a complete re-read of the series. I am looking for the audiobooks at the moment, but I haven’t delved into the books just yet. I think I’ve stayed away from them thus far for three reasons: it’s a big undertaking, I have many other to-be-read books, and if I start”¦ I won’t want to stop. Just for reference, I have read Prisoner of Azkaban at least twenty-five times. At least.
As happy as it’s making me to dive back into the world of Potter, I’m also a bit sad that the fandom is not as active. I mean, it’s understandable. Even the movies have ended now. But the fandom was a huge part of my Potter experience. And to see everyone moving on now is disheartening. It’s sad to think there are no more midnight releases. And it’s weird to think that future generations of readers will experience the series without that hype.
But I guess we should just be grateful that we were alive when the craziness was happening. The source material is still there and we can always come back into that fictional world. As J.K. Rowling herself said, “The stories we love best do live in us forever. So, whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
If you’re looking for some Potter podcasts that are still being updated, here is my current line-up. Mugglecast is still doing episodes until August of this year and they have an impressive and entertaining back catalog to enjoy. The Alohomora podcast is doing a complete re-read and close analysis of the series. And The Chapter Titles Were So Good is also doing a re-read and fun chapter-by-chapter discussion.
Oh, and if you feel like crying, check out this song by Wizard Rocker Lauren Fairweather.
Share your Harry Potter stories in the comments! Let’s get some nostalgia going!