The book that I have re-read more than any other
by Lizzy King
I didn’t learn to read, I just started reading. I don’t remember a time where reading was difficult for me. According to my Mum, I understood all the letters when I was in preschool, and the night before I went to school my dad explained things like ‘sh’ and ‘th’ and that an e at the end of a word made the vowel say its own name. After that, I was off. I read every night before bed, and my parents regularly enjoyed catching me asleep with a book on my face.
I had a big bookshelf filled with books. The bottom shelves had all my Dr. Seusses and Little Golden Books. The upper shelves were devoted to “chapter books”. Most of these I inherited from my parents, the covers were coming off and the pages were yellow. By the time I was 8 or 9 I had read every single one at least once, but usually many times, I was and continue to be, a serial re-reader.
By grade 6 I had read every single fiction book (except the Goosebumps series because they looked too scary) in the school library. I had a great relationship with the librarian, and whenever a new book came in, she would let me know about it. And that’s how I found out about Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
“It’s about a boy who finds out he is a wizard and goes to magic school.” She probably said, I don’t remember. “I’ve held it for you, when it comes in I’ll let you know.” I know she said because that’s how I was the first person at my school to read it. It was 1999, and like Harry, I was 11.
Imagine, reading a book like Harry Potter before it is a book like Harry Potter. I’m not trying to get all hipster on your butt here, but I had no idea what I was getting myself in for when I started reading that book that day, nobody did. It was about 12 months off becoming one of the most well known series of all time.
I finished it quickly and then promptly re-read it. It was the best book I had ever read. And Harry – Harry remains to this day the fictional character I most identify with. Sure, he’s an orphan wizard with an evil arch nemesis and I’m a muggle with two parents, and my greatest enemy is probably my own lack of self-censorship, but that’s not the point. I felt a kinship with Harry stronger than any bond I’d ever felt for any other character. I blindly followed any story, never once doubting Harry’s beliefs, motives or prejudices, and was always completely shocked by the twists, just as Harry was.
The next two books in the series were available from the library shortly after and the fourth book was released the following year. I re-read each book in order first, before opening a new one. Which meant Philosopher’s Stone quickly jumped to the top of my most-read list. Then came the agonising three-year wait for the 5th book, and how did I fill this time? With re-reading of course. Always starting at the beginning again.
By the time the series was finished, I was 19 years old and I had dedicated huge parts of my life to reading and re-reading those books. The smell of the pages, that particular Bloomsbury Press smell, still makes me feel 11 again, and I regularly get it out just to inhale it, or to read particular passages, or indeed for a quick afternoon re-read.
For many people, Harry Potter got them into reading, or was the first book they truly enjoyed. For me, an avid reader, it was neither of those things, but it is one of my most beloved books, and certainly, it will be the most dog-eared, the most yellowed, the most read book on my shelves for the rest of my life.
Lizzy King lives in Dalby, QLD and writes short plays and short stories even though she is quite tall. Her blog, Hum Drum Plum is a frighteningly accurate representation of her inner self: http://www.lizzyish.blogspot.com.au/
This post is a part of the book that… blog series.