Thursday, January 31, 2013

Reading and Rereading

I love books. I was an English major in school; I can't help but smell every book I pick up; I keep a journal of all the books I read throughout the year, so that I can see and remember what I have read. It's more than a hobby for me. It's a way that I sort out my feelings and beliefs. It's the way that I relax. I become fidgety and angry when I have forgotten to bring a book with me no matter where I go. It would be fair to say that books--both the concrete item and the ideas they contain--matter to me a great deal.

I love the Harry Potter series. The first Harry book came out when I was 11 or 12. I read it, tried to act cool about it, and secretly fell in love. I read the whole series, slowly caring less and less about how nerdy I was becoming with my love of these books. When the seventh book was published, I had recently found out about my unexpected and unplanned pregnancy. Two paragraphs in and I was already crying. After my man friend, R, (very reasonably and sweetly) suggested that maybe just maybe my emotions were running a little high, I proceeded to read him the entire series because he "didn't get it." I literally grew up with Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the gang.

I use to reread the series every summer or anytime a new book was coming out, but I haven't done that in a while. In fact, a year or so ago I traded my hardcover copies to one of my friends, A, for her softcover copies (I needed the shelf space, and A wrote her Honors Thesis on Harry and Peter Pan). I haven't opened them until recently.

I decided to reread the whole series a few days ago, and that's when I discovered that my new-to-me copies smell exactly like my friend. A moved away at the beginning of August to attend grad school. She is having a great time, and I get to live vicariously through her. But I miss her a lot. When I opened Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, A filled the room. The book smells like her; it has her notes scattered throughout. We have spent a good amount of time discussing this story, and sitting down to read her old copy of the novel reminded me of all of the wonderful times I have spent sipping coffee with A while discussing literature, movies, and life.

Books are wonderful because, for me at least, not only do they contain the stories recorded by their authors, which is pretty great all on its own, but they can also take us back to specific moments in our own lives, people we love, or lessons we have learned. The stories of Harry Potter do that for me. They remind me of what I was like as a kid and a teenager and how my understanding of the novels grew as I grew; they take me back to my pregnancy and the tradition that my act sparked (I still read aloud to R); and they remind me of friendships. Not bad for a book written for children that I first read 15 years ago.

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