Days 65-66. I grew up in a world of magic.

Disclaimer: If your gag reflex is easily triggered by sappy words, you might want to leave this post. Actually, there’s no doubt about it, you need to leave this post. May I interest you in something more sarcastic? Check out ANY of my other posts. Seriously, I won’t be upset.

Now that all of the “hard asses” are out of here, all aboard the tearjerker express!

Today, I want to talk about a series of books that defined my childhood. This will most likely be outrageously heartfelt (cheesy) and sensitive (corny). I recommend you take a moment to locate your tissues now. I am not responsible for any ruined shirts caused by your sniffles or runny mascara. In fact, you might be better off just throwing a blanket over yourself now. E.T. style would be the most effective.

I’m going to try to keep the angst to a minimum, but I can’t make any promises. You have been warned.

I used to find it strange when a book was credited as having “saved someone’s life”. Did the book stop a bullet for you? Did it catch a grenade for you? Jump in front of a train for you? (Can you tell which song is stuck in my head?). Whenever I heard someone say this about a book, I would get this image in my head of a book with tiny arms and a sword. The book always had a moustache and spoke with the voice of Antonio Banderas. It seemed overly dramatic and cliché to me. I loved books, but none of them had saved me from a burning building or a car accident.

After a great deal of reflection, I get it. While my Harry Potter books never sprouted arms and fended off some terrible foe like the Boogeyman, they did provide me with an escape and a soft place to land when I needed it. When you’re a child, that’s a wonderful thing. Finding solace in the pages of a book is an irreplaceable gift.

I was ten years old when my Nanny (grandmother) bought me the first three books of the Harry Potter series. I was not impressed. My favorite book, up to that point, was Where the Red Fern Grows. I had no interest in reading about a boy wizard with crooked glasses and hand-me-down clothes. Where were the puppies?!

My Nanny also gave my brother the same three books. Unlike me, he devoured them immediately. He turned each page with such ferocity that I’m surprised he didn’t get multiple paper cuts. Instead of sparking my interest in the books, this just made me inch away even further. If my brother liked them, then there’s no way I’m reading them. Boys and girls do not like the same things. That’s one of the symptoms of cooties, obviously.

A few months later, my parents divorced. My mom and I packed our things and moved to Oklahoma, but my dad and brother stayed in Arkansas. All of a sudden, I was in a new room, in a different state, with no one to play Nintendo with. I know it’s obvious to say, but I missed my brother a lot.

When I unpacked a few of my boxes, I found my Harry Potter books. Somehow in the confusion of the move, I ended up with his copy of Chamber of Secrets as well. It was easy to see the difference between his copy and mine. The pages of his copy were dog-eared and ruffled, but my book wasn’t even scuffed from the move. I immediately knew that I had to read these books. I saw it as a way to feel close to him again. Luckily, even at ten, I had the discipline to read Sorcerer’s Stone first. I told myself that reading his copy of Chamber of Secrets would be my reward for finishing the first book.

Of course, I quickly realized that reading the Sorcerers Stone was enough of a reward in itself.

I felt transported. I always loved reading, but a book had never grabbed me the way Harry Potter did. When Harry escaped his miserable life in the cupboard under the stairs, I felt like he turned around and led me out of mine as well.

Armed with the Goblet of fire (it had been released by then), I started at my new school that fall. I was picked on almost immediately. I was a pretty easy target. I was new, too skinny, and had too many freckles. I know this isn’t anything new, bullying is an epidemic. However, when you’re only ten, it’s disheartening. During recess on my first day, I sat by the door and read. While every other kid was off playing on the jungle gyms, I was helping Harry battle a dragon in the Triwizard Tournament.

I know this sounds awfully pitiful, but I was okay with this. I was much too clumsy for playground equipment, and I liked reading.

Instead of rising to their taunts, I would read. Eventually, they moved on as kids often do. I found a few kind hearted friends. I grew to like my new surroundings and the new people in them.

When I did have bad days, I would read Harry Potter. When I had my heart broken for the first time, I read Harry Potter. When I slammed my fingers in the car door and had to get stitches, I read Harry Potter.

For the first time, I felt empowered. It didn’t matter what happened at school or at home. I had something spectacular hidden within the pages of these books. I had an entire world of magic at my fingertips. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world. (Honestly, I still do).

Harry Potter defined my childhood. That may seem like a pretty bold statement, but I know that some of you know exactly what I mean. Maybe it wasn’t Harry Potter that meant so much to you, but there was a book. The book. The book that seemed to tingle and glow in your hands. The book that was always the first one you spotted when you looked at your bookshelf. The book whose pages you knew just by the feel of them, whose binding you could recognize just by touch.

Harry Potter is exactly that for me. I can remember every excited trip to the bookstore to pick up the newest volume. I remember every time I read that first page for the first time. I remember every morning I woke up with one of the books still in my hands. I remember every tear stained page. I remember every crack in the binding. It’s familiar to me. My second home is in those pages. Always. Until the very end.

I think I need a tissue…

I think books can be a powerful force. Do you have a book that you feel this way about? Which book is it? Tell me about it, I’d love to know.

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15 thoughts on “Days 65-66. I grew up in a world of magic.

  1. Your childhood story sounds amazingly similar to mine. It didn’t matter what kids said or how lonely I felt, as long as I could read at every opportunity. Of course that fueled the fire because most boys in my schools did not like to read. They wanted to play sports and hang out. But reading worked for me.

    Thanks for sharing this story. It was really special.

    • The joy that reading can bring to a child’s life is more than enough to outweigh any petty taunts that are thrown around. That’s what’s so beautiful about books.

      Thank you for sharing a bit of your story as well. It’s a shame we didn’t have blogs then, we could’ve shared encouragement and book suggestions.

  2. I loved your story – just clearing the tissues from around my laptop!

    I loved Enid Blyton when I was a kid – showing my age, probably – The Magic Faraway Tree and the Wishing Chair when I was little, the girls of Mallory Towers and St Clare’s when I was a bit older. Their power to transport you away to another world is just magical.

    And of course, I love the Harry Potter books too – just brilliant.

  3. As paradoxical as this may sound, I never enjoyed reading that much. In fact, every time I could get away without reading the essay book in school, I would.

    As a TV writer, I could relate to your experience through South Park. I used to watch it late at night when my parents where gone, since they unequivocally FORBADE me to watch it, but I did anyway ’cause I was a bum back then (now I’m all wimpy). I’ve seen every episode at least 5 times, and every time a new seasons kicks in, I feel like I’m a kid in the late 90’s again. This time of year is exciting, since the show is finally returning September 25th. I’m ready. My second home is any one of the 237 episodes of the series.

  4. I know exactly how you feel. This is such a beautiful post, I can’t even tell you how much I’m smiling right now just reading it. Thanks for that. 🙂

    Growing up I really liked the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I don’t really think I’ve outgrown the book-escape phase of my life… and I’m not really sure that I ever will. My favorite book currently is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It gives me that same feeling, even though I’m older now and I don’t depend on other book-worlds in the same way that I used to.

  5. Good job and excellent writing. I am always delighted to see people put forth their true feelings to page exposing themselves to whatever the world would crack down on. I do that a lot on my blog, and people say, “I would never have shared that.” Then I think, “Well I am not you.”
    When I was a kid, Stephen King was that for me; always there, always dark, matching my mood, my thoughts. But it wasn’t until later that I experienced such emotion while listening to audio books on public transportation. Pure Drivel, by Steve Martin made me laugh so hard, people would stare at me shocked, or smile knowingly. I didn’t care. Then there was Insomnia by Stephen King. I started crying like a baby when Ralph died. I couldn’t imagine what people thought seeing a grown man cry on a bus like that, but I did. It was so sad, and in some ways very refreshing.

  6. Pingback: The Beauty of Books | Creative Mysteries

  7. For me, that was the Chronicles of Narnia. A world where animals talked and ever lasting winter. My father would read the tales to my brother and I if we agreed to go to bed. Not bad, really.

    I can officially confirm, however, that upon hear the death of Remus and Tonks, I did in fact, cry. So, I’m not all out of tears.

  8. I never really read Harry Potter. I eventually got through the first book, but then did not read any of those that followed. I did read all of the Lord of the Rings, however….multiple, multiple times.

  9. Harry Potter for me, too 🙂 Although the first novel I ever read was a children’s gothic called The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs. That was great. But Harry Potter was… something else. I think what I loved about that series was that it empowered children who, like me, were bound by stuffy school rules and power-hungry adults. They lived in a world ruled by grown-ups. But somehow in the end they always managed to navigate around those rules and find ways to save the day, anyway.

    But that’s fiction. I wish someone had told me that before I tried to break out that convict that one time…

    • I am suffering from my first ever “busy streak” in my life! I hope to write a new post this week since everything is calming down. My poor blog has been neglected, and I have a ton of posts to catch up on from everyone I follow. It’s a bit overwhelming.

      Thanks for checking in 🙂 I hope you’re doing well!

  10. I devoured The Lord of The Rings Trilogy as a kid. This was way before the Pete Jackson movies came out. But I’ve just recently picked them up again and it’s great because it’s familiar, but at the same time it’s like I’m reading it for the first time again. I remember struggling through the prose, just as I do today, and trying to remember who was who and what was going on with all the different threads.

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