89: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

I know there are people out there who think children’s books are for children, and adults who read them are somehow mentally deficient. To them I say, first: I was only eleven when this book came out, and second: mind your own business. I’ll read whatever I want and defend to the death anyone else’s right to do so.

It felt wonderful to absorb myself in Hogwarts again, to go back and meet Harry and Hermione and Ron as naïve young eleven year olds instead of the jaded outlaws on the run we encountered during the final film last year. I think part of Harry’s success is that he is many things to many people: Philosopher’s Stone is an adventure story, a coming of age, a school story and the triumph of an underdog. I also genuinely think this is a well written book. The intensely visual elements of the wizarding world such as Diagon Alley and Hogwarts are so well drawn, and I was pleased to find when I was reading that the images in my mind were the same ones that were there on my first reading, mainly untainted by their cinematic rivals.

There are times that I crave new, challenging books and there are times that I just want to go back to an old favourite. Even this first and simplest instalment stands up to multiple re-readings – I must have read it at least ten times over the last fifteen years and appreciated its charms every time. There are books I enjoyed as a teen that, looking back, are incredibly cringeworthy, but Harry will have a place on my bookshelf for a long time yet. (Does that sound creepy?)

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