Never Too Late – Picking up Harry Potter as an Adult

When I started dating my current boyfriend, he decided it was time to finally pick up Harry Potter, if only for the sake of our relationship. Otherwise, how could he hope to communicate with a girlfriend who speaks in 50 percent Harry Potter quotes? Ever wondered what your impression of the books would be if you picked them up in your mid-twenties, two decades after they came out? Wondering if it’s worth your time to jump on the bandwagon now if you missed the boat so many years ago? Let’s ask him and find out!

Somehow, he had never seen any of the movies and avoided most major plot spoilers, so watching his reaction to every twist and turn has been quite a treat. He’s only just finished Prisoner of Azkaban so far, so these questions will apply to the first three books.

Who is your favorite character and why?

I suppose, all things considered, Dumbledore and Lupin are my favorite characters. For similar reasons in that they are both competent and teach Harry many new things, both in terms of spells and life lessons, which then become integrated into the story in crucial ways (The mirror of Erised, so cool).

What would be your favorite class at Hogwarts? Why?

One of my true annoyances with the first two books was, I thought, a lack of fleshing out of their classes at Hogwarts. A mandrake here, a stampede of pixies there, and some unimportant potions for good measure. Divination (as well as Defense against the Dark Arts in book 3) finally breaks that mold. Seeing the skepticism that surrounds the school of Divination, and of course the not-so-reliable predictions of the Grim really was exciting as well as evocative of incompetent teachers of youth.

Are the books like you thought they would be? What surprised you most?

They have a much stronger mystery component that I ever realized when other people talk about it. Sure the fantasy and storytelling is great, but J.K Rowling is able to introduce otherwise hard to swallow plot twists (Scabbers…) in a way that makes sense and is exciting.

Do you wish you had read the books as a kid?

Honestly, no. While I think the books are great, and I am really enjoying them now, I was not a huge fan of reading when I was younger, and would have not given the books the attention or appreciation that I do now, as an adult who has only grown to read casually in recent years.

Is there anything you gleaned from the books that you don’t think you would have picked up on as a kid?

In terms of life lessons or permanent information, no. But I wonder if I would have given any particular thought to things like the House Elves and the treatment of Professor Lupin after he was discovered to be a Werewolf.

What makes the books worth reading for someone who doesn’t have the nostalgia value that those of us who grew up with them have?

Anyone who enjoys reading as a hobby can likely gain something from these books, especially fans of fantasy, coming of age stories (YA, generally), and mystery.

What makes the books appeal to our generation? Do you think they will continue to hold appeal for future generations? Why?

I often wonder this. Why/how did Harry Potter become such a sensation? Seeing how the books flow from one to the next is great, but temporally I have no real clues as to how books one and two got so much appeal, or why.
Regardless, the greatest achievement I believe HP and J.K Rowling achieves in these books is presenting different opinions and viewpoints between the three main characters Harry, Ron, and Hermione (especially the last 2) and showing the merits, and shortcomings, of their beliefs and decision-making. Also the books have become a legend at this point, they will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest book series of the century and likely be studied in school one day, if I had to make a bet.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into the mind of someone who started reading Harry Potter later in life. Now I have a few questions for you: What would you ask someone reading Harry Potter for the first time? Any other late starters among our readers? Share with us in the comments!

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