Okay, the title is a lie. My favorite book is actually the Bible. However, the Harry Potter series was the story that led me to the Bible and continues to fuel my re-reading of Scripture.
At sixteen, I had stepped away from my love of reading (if I cracked open a Bible, it was only on accident). I was tired of the stories my teachers kept forcing on me. Stories I didn’t understand or identify with. But, if I wanted to graduate, I had to reach my Reading Counts points—and you can only Christmas Tree so many of those tests. Trust me.
The summer before my Junior year, my friend’s mom suggested this “new” series called Harry Potter. Only three books had been released at that point. My mom decided to pick up all three, stuff them into my hands and send me off to babysit my very sick six-year-old cousin. While MTV and Nickelodeon had their pulls on my attention span, not to mention said six-year-old, I managed to crack open Sorcerer’s Stone and give this new mother-acclaimed series a chance. I was hooked. I read all three books in one week. I was a reformed person—and the six-year-old survived (she is now nearly 20 and beginning her Potter journey).
Next year in school, my 11th grade English teacher gave me books, and I gave them a chance. Some of them I really loved. Between Junior and Senior year, I went from taking regular English classes to AP. My 11th grade teacher refused to allow me to take it easy my Senior year, and she was right to push me. I discovered books that I loved—anything Jane Austen, Dracula, Frankenstein, Canterbury Tales, Catcher in the Rye, Wuthering Heights, to name a few. I re-discovered a love of writing and symbolism and literature.
Then I graduated. I was directed to pick a major that would allow me to actually make a living when I got out of school. I hated it. But all the while Rowling kept publishing Potter stories, and I kept devouring them. They saw me through my college years, which were much more difficult than my teen years. I even discovered them in a bookshop in Florence, Italy where I lived for a semester abroad. Homesick, I picked up the latest release, Order of the Phoenix, in the British edition and read it to get me through (not to mention listening to Shania Twain’s Up a gazillion times, but that’s a story for a different post).
The college years were dark and difficult times inwardly for me. But Potter was always a light. When I discovered the light of Christ and how it wove together with the light I found in Potter, the combination helped me to further understand and express my faith. For the first time, I found my feet on solid ground. I knew who I wanted to be, so I could make choices to define that person. I knew what I believed and stood for. I didn’t feel alone anymore. I found hope and joy and a fandom that is so much more than just a fandom to me. To top all that off, I found my way home to my purpose—stories. Writing them, supporting them, analyzing them, and just plain enjoying them.
Potter did this for me, which makes it my favorite story right along with the Bible. The two combine quite nicely, in my opinion.