Now, I realize Harry Potter is the most obvious choice for this list from a millennial such as myself, but leaving it out would be against everything I am. That, and it’s pretty difficult to ignore the series that changed the face of young adult literature. I try to be pretty casual about my Harry Potter obsession in my day-to-day life, but it often comes to the surface via accidental references if I haven’t told you about it already. Honestly, I’m not even sure the term obsession covers it. J.K. Rowling’s stories have literally dictated my entire life.
It all started when I was five. No, I didn’t read Harry Potter when I was five years old, but I did have an eight-year-old sister whom I idolized. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone was fairly new at this point, and when my sister read it I wanted to read it. Since I obviously couldn’t tackle it on my own, she read parts of it aloud for me, and it definitely stuck with me. Around the time I was eight, I began reading the books by myself. I remember carrying those heavy books with me everywhere so I could read them in the few minutes I had to spare between class activities or at the bus stop. I also think part of me was just a little shit who felt really smart carrying around a book roughly half her size (I was that kid).
So, I quite literally grew up with Harry. I guess that phrase is a little bit of a cliché at this point, but I stand by it. My love of literature stemmed from reading the series, and now I’m nearing the end of my English undergraduate education and will soon be looking for a job based on that passion. Maybe I would have ended up here whether I had read Harry Potter or not, but I certainly feel a connection. Who knows if I ever would have fallen quite so in love with reading without J.K. Rowling’s masterpieces? …yes, I’m incredibly biased.
I won’t bother with any sort of plot synopsis in this case, because I doubt anyone needs it. I’m not even really sure how to convince you to read these books. My official testimony is: I want to have children for the sole reason of forcing them to read this book (honestly, no other reason). But on a more serious note, I feel as though it’s important to become acquainted with a series that has caused such a generational phenomenon. That didn’t just happen randomly. While Potter classifies as young adult literature, I believe that only the most talented writers are able to tackle world-building as flawlessly as Rowling did.
When I pick up one of the Potter books, I feel like I’m living it. I love so many books, but I’m not sure any have impacted me as much. And I think it’s important to note that I’ve held the same opinion since I was eight years old–that’s not an exaggeration. I attended a Harry Potter convention in 2012, and I am one hundred percent not joking. But I met the real life Luna Lovegood, so joke’s on you.
As J.K. Rowling wrote, “in dreams, we enter a world that is entirely our own.”
— Kelly Lyons, Fiction and Non-Fiction Editor