For over a decade, November often brought with it a new Harry Potter movie. While the series - both books and movies - ended a few years ago, we're both proud members of the Harry Potter generation.
I was seven or eight when I read the first Harry Potter book. My sister had bought it because she had heard how good it was supposed to be and then, after reading it, she gave it to me, knowing that I would devour it. I did and quickly became obsessed. While I never attended a midnight launch, I'd completely stop what I was doing to read the latest installment. One of my best book-related memories is sobbing through the end of Deathly Hallows on a train in France (because, yes, my sister bought me the book the day it released and we happened to be in Europe at the time. Good thing Canadians get the UK editions so my set matches!).
I've read the books many times. Every year, I say I want to do a full re-read and, even though that hasn't happened yet, the fact that I still do really well on the endless "ULTIMATE HARRY POTTER QUIZZES" that you see on Buzzfeed and the like, leads me to believe that I've retained vast amounts of HP trivia. My niece is slowly becoming just as obsessed, and it's a wonderful feeling to be able to share something that holds such a special place in my heart with a younger generation.
The books were a springboard to other series and authors that have earned a place on my "Favourites" shelf. Without the "What to Read if You Like Harry Potter" table I perused when I was 9, I might not have picked up the first Lemony Snicket book. If I didn't read Lemony Snicket, I might not have read Coraline at 12. If I hadn't read Coraline, I might not have revisited Neil Gaiman last year...as you can tell, I owe J.K. Rowling a lot.
And while the movies aren't quite the same (I'm still not over how diminished Ginny's character is in the movies vs the books), they're still enjoyable. Plus, because of them, I've been giggling girlishly over Daniel Radcliffe for 14 years, which has made life that much more fun (also shout out to Matthew Lewis for totally kicking puberty's butt).
I remember getting the first Harry Potter book as a Hanukkah present when I was about 7 or 8. Weirdly, it was the American version, The Sorcerer's Stone, but from that moment on I was hooked.
I quickly devoured the next two books and then started pre-ordering each next instalment so I would be one of the first to read the latest adventures of Harry and his friends. I was very lucky to have been in England when the final Harry Potter book was released, back in 2007, so I went to a midnight release and picked up my copy of Deathly Hallows and proceeded to cry that the series that had been such a large part of my life was now coming to a close.
Years after reading the books, it's easy to nit-pick and find fault with characters and inconsistencies, but I will forever hold the books (and then the movies) in a special place in my heart. I grew up alongside of the stories, and the final instalment came out when I was 17, the same age as Harry in his last adventure. The books mean so much to me and so much to my generation and I feel privileged to have been a part of something so meaningful and special.
Years after the series has ended, I still find myself thinking about Harry, Ron and Hermione. The fandom has never stopped and with more and more people discovering the books and movies every day, it's unlikely to be stopping anytime soon. J.K. Rowling put a little magic into all of our lives and I haven't been the same since.