Returning to Hogwarts: Rereading Harry Potter – The Socerer’s Stone

21 January 2015

One of my goals for this year is to reread the Harry Potter series. It’s something that’s sort of crept up on me over the last few years, and with my niece becoming a stronger and stronger reader, I thought this could be the perfect time. Mainly because I was planning on buying all the books for her. And then when book 1 arrived I decided to keep it for myself. (Yeah, I know.)

Anyway. It’s been since my freshman year of high school when I first started the series (ca. 1999). A couple friends were raving about the first book — a copy was loaned to me, and I was hooked. I remember eagerly awaiting each new book to arrive. I remember midnight releases. I remember devouring a whole book in a day or two. At the time, these were the longest books I had ever read. I also feel like it was one of my first major foray into an elaborate fantasy world. It’s hard for that not to have an effect on you.

This go around, rather than speed through each book just to get to the next, I’m taking my time with each. I want to spend time in the world. I want poignant parts to linger. It’s definitely been interesting going into this with prior knowledge, but I find myself rediscovering parts — or, realizing I’ve got my memories out of order. I’ve only finished the first book, thankfully the day the second arrived.* And since this is a part of my goals for the year, I decided I’d share the journey here.

With that said… if for some reason you have not read the Harry Potter series: there will be spoilers.

Return to Hogwarts: Rereading the Harry Potter series

Book 1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

This might be sort of a disjointed review, but bear with me.

Firstly, I was sort of surprised how much of the story takes place outside of Hogwarts.  At the same time, I feel like this shouldn’t surprise me. We need time to establish Harry as a character, and really get a feel for his life — and let’s face it. It’s not good. You sort of get this Cinderella feeling with these pseudo-family members treating this person who suffered an unfortunate event as practically sub-human, parasite of a burden. It’s hard to really envision this in the real world — because who’d force a child who’s parents were murdered to live in a closet under the stairs?! — but, as we know now, Rowling has created such real characters that, though we don’t agree with them, the Dursleys do seem real. (And very easy to hate.)

Another thing that I guess I had forgotten was just how much Ron, and Harry too, did not like Hermione in the beginning. And they were most definitely sort of mean to her. But we all know or remember that one kid in class that had to prove they were the smartest and brightest. And yes, if we weren’t that kid, we all sort of loathed them and held it against them a little. So, again, relatable realistic characters. One of the things I’m happy Rowling really brings out is not writing people off just because they aren’t “cool” or popular. Harry’s this super famous guy in the wizard world, he could have totally abandoned Ron as soon as he got to Hogwarts. And I’m not just talking for Malfoy, who’s popularity is more in fear (and in his head). But as a great show of his personal character, of course that doesn’t happen. So after the Great Troll Incident, these three admittedly awkward kids become best of friends. Hermione doesn’t really show off as much, and Ron and Harry are a bit more forgiving and understanding — because they get it too, it’s hard to be the weird kid.

After this, we spend a good chunk of time setting up Snape as the potential bad guy. Knowing Snape’s story definitely is a huge spoiler, you can feel for him. But yeah, dude’s totally got a grudge. It’d be sort of hard not to, really. Anyway. I was pleased when we start getting little snippets of his past. I didn’t remember that happening this early on. It starts that light of understanding that we’ll get to in later books and throughout the story.

Lastly, it felt odd that we get to this amazing point in the story — where he finally meets Voldemort again — and we’re only given one chapter of this. As a writer, this makes sense — I mean, how much filler stuff do we want after Harry recovers? But it’s just like, here’s this amazing enemy, but he’s barely getting any face time in the book. Ok. Ok. Yeah, we learn he was there all along.. but it’s really our first time with him. I wouldn’t want that scene to drag out… but … I don’t know.

Also: Fangirl Ginny? Now that we know what we know? Yeah, a little awkward. But hey, she’s 10 in this book. OH. OH. Yeah, and this point which I somehow always forget: Harry Potter is technically older than me. Born in 1980. He starts Hogwarts in 1991. For some reason those facts never stick with me.

Anyway. Very glad I chose to start this series again. It’s like meeting an old friend and sort of picking up where you left off — there’s a sense of comfort and joy here. Now on to book 2…

*I borrowed most of the books when I read them — either from friends or the school library. I think I only owned 3 of them before starting this project. Now my goal is to get all of the hardbacks (which, is super easy to do, especially since you can find them for under $5 online). Eventually I want my niece to read them, but when she’s ready. Or, you  know, she does turn 11 next year… 

Disclaimer for comments: PLEASE keep it to the book I’m currently reviewing, or anything prior. I know I elude to things that happen in the future, but still. I want to approach each of these books as I come to them. If you’d like to read along with me, let me know!

  • Katelin

    Love this! And so fun to reread the series. I only read it for the first time a few years ago, I’ll probably have to read it again one day. It’s just so fun!

    • Thanks! I’m glad I’m rereading it, as it’s been fun to rediscover things I’ve loved about this series. Just happy that the books will just keep getting longer and longer! So much to read!

  • Ari Carr

    I think I read the first HP book around the early 2000s, when I was in primary school. I know I definitely didn’t get it on release, but I fell in love with the books. Philosopher’s Stone is probably my most read book. Fab review! You pretty much sum up everything I thought when I reread it a few years ago.

    • Thanks!! I only owned books 3, 4, and 7. Very glad I’m going out and getting them all now. I look forward to reading them yet again when I get my niece to start them! 🙂

  • I read the first book the month before the movie went on the big screen. It was awesome because I was 11 years old, just like Harry and his friends!

    (Sometimes I find myself thinking how could they not having cellular phones or at least talking about them… I keep forgetting that the book saga is 10 years older than the movie saga!)

    • As much as I want my niece to read the books now, she turns 11 next year… so it’s like, if I can force myself to wait… I can make this super fun and exciting. I think regardless, if she reads it early, I going to have to do something Hogwarts related on her 11th birthday. 🙂

      • Jenn McClure

        That sounds like a fantastic idea!

  • Kris Padget

    I seem to reread Harry Potter ever 2 years or so…it’s approaching that time again so maybe I’ll read along with you 🙂

    • 🙂 I’ve never been a big rereader, but I think I’d like to change that and hit some of my favorite again every few years.

      I’m also about half way through book 2 now because with the power being out, I read 10 chapters in one day! Let me know if you decide to read along too! 🙂

  • Jenn McClure

    You are my new hero! Hahaha. I grew up on these books and they are my favorite series! Pretty sure it was my first fandom! I am working on rereading the series this year too!

    Love,
    Jenn

    • Aw, Thanks!!! 🙂 How far are you into your reread??

      • Jenn McClure

        I just started rereading book one cuz I had to finish another series I was reading. I do this about every 2 years since I finished the last book, especially when the movies came out.

  • I re-read the first three last fall and was planning on continuing the series, but it kind of got pushed aside for other books. So, when you get to book 4, I’ll totally read with you! Just let me know when you get ready to start!

    • I will definitely let you know! 🙂

  • I read the first book in 1999, and then I gave book one its first re-read in college, so like 10 years later. Even though I watched the movie so many times between those dates, I couldn’t believe how much of the first book I forgot. I totally forgot the entire beginning with Vernon Dursley’s workday.

    Post college, I’ve re-read the books several times. I usually turn to them when I’m feeling blue or when I’m in a reading slump. They always seem to make me happier or to motivate me. They’ve never lost their magic to me 🙂

    • I was also surprised at how much I’d forgotten!

      I’m normally not much of a re-reader, but I think I’ll end up reading this series again, and will probably be more likely to get some of my other favorites a re-read as well. 🙂

  • Celeste

    I’ve been thinking about re-reading the series as well, but this a nice reflection on the first book. Especially reading it at an older age vs. feeling like you were growing up with the characters as t he books were published.

    • It’s definitely interesting to read it now as an adult. I had one friend who read it for the first time as an adult, and as a teacher — I really loved her perspective on it. 🙂

  • Mallory

    I am re-reading Harry Potter series as well!!! I am amazed at how much is actually in the first book hinting at Sirius Black and all the encounters with Prof Quirell – these really are such amazing books!!
    xx bad.wolf.brunch
    badwolfbrunch.blogspot.com

    • They really are! It’s great how she was able to blend the various books together throughout the series!

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