Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter: A Gateway to Great Things

(I know, I didn't post yesterday. I've been so wrapped up in reading Towers of Midnight, Wheel of Time Book 13, that I've pretty much ignored my entire life. My homework and research aren't getting done, and I almost started reading the book in the middle of a class. Yeah, my WoT addiction is that bad. But I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. Anyway, today I purposefully left the book in my apartment, so I can go to school and be productive. Instead I'm writing a blog post...)

Harry Potter is an awesome book series. If I had to list the greatest series of all time, Harry Potter would be pretty close to the top of the list. Not sure it can top Wheel of Time, but as a series it definitely tops many other series I have read. Sure, some of the individual books aren't fantastic (I'm looking at you, Chamber of Secrets), but the series as a whole is phenomenal.

For me, one of the reasons why Harry Potter was so great was because it was a gateway to a new world. And I'm not talking about the wizarding world. I'm talking the awesome world of Fantasy books.

Before I read Harry Potter, I was a die hard Science Fiction fan. Everything I read was Science Fiction. Madeleine L'Engle, Star Wars, Orson Scott Card, I loved it all. But fantasy I stayed away from. Not for any particular reason other than I knew I liked Science Fiction and I like to go with what works.

I started reading Harry Potter during the first semester of my seventh grade year, and it changed my life.

You think I'm joking. You think I'm exaggerating. But I'm not.

When I eventually broke down and read Harry Potter, I was astounded by its awesomeness. I had no idea Fantasy could be that great. Sure, I had read The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit, but they really weren't breakthroughs into fantasy for me. They were more like mandatory (though enjoyable) reading. Harry Potter was different. It was easy to read. It was exciting. It was relatable. (I mean seriously, JK. Did you spy on me and then write Hermione?)

Because I read Harry Potter, when I read a story about dragons in my seventh grade reading text book, I was eager. And my eyes were opened to Anne McCaffrey. I went to my library and checked out the Harper Hall Trilogy. I have now read every published Dragonriders of Pern book.

Because I read Harry Potter, my dad saw a large fantasy-looking book on one of his airplanes. He thought "this looks fantasy, Mandy reads fantasy now." So he brought it home to me. It was The Path of the Dagger, Wheel of Time Book 8. Of course, he didn't know it was Book 8, and my mom was wary of letting me read adult books at this time. So she went to the library and checked out Book 1 (The Eye of the World). She was so impressed by the prologue that she read it aloud to me. She then quickly finished reading it and turned it over to me. My dad refused to be left out of the picture so he read it after I did. Unfortunately, my mom no longer reads Wheel of Time, but my dad and I still do. And we're currently in a competition to see who can finish Towers of Midnight first. Without Harry Potter, I never would have read Wheel of Time.

Without Harry Potter, I never would have been inspired to write my first fantasy book, Britt's Quest. It was awful. It will never be published. Ever. But it was a stepping stone. Before that I had only tried my hand at science fiction (which I really didn't know enough science to back). But with my eyes opened to Harry Potter, I began to write fantasy. Being a fantasy writer is one of the characteristics that currently defines me.

Honestly, I don't know who I'd be today without Harry Potter. My seventh grade year was a very defining year in my life. It was the year I went to three different middle schools in three different states. It was the year I realized I was going to be an engineer when I grew up. It was the year I wrote a fantasy novel that got stolen by a sixth grader who read it and loved it so much that she passed it among all of her friends. (Yeah, you're never going to read that story. It was awful, but this event did convince me that I could be a writer). And it was the year I first started reading Harry Potter, The Dragonriders of Pern, The Wheel of Time, The Young Years of Merlin, and so many other great books.

It's possible that if I had never read Harry Potter I would still be sitting at this desk at Georgia Tech, avoiding reading papers on Uranus's magnetic field by writing a blog post. However, it's also possible that I never would have read any of those books. I never would have been inspired to look beyond life to what could be. It's possible (though unlikely) that I would be working a dead end job and going no where.

There have been two defining years in my life so far. Kindergarten, when I gave my life to Christ and knew I would always live for Him, and seventh grade, when I decided how I could live my life for Christ: as an engineer and a writer.

It's possible I could have reached those same decisions eventually without Harry Potter, but one thing is for sure: Harry Potter brought me to that defining decision earlier than it would have otherwise.

So once again, thank you JK. Thank you for writing Harry Potter. I don't know where I'd be without it.

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