Join me for the Where Were You When? Series and share your story about how major world events impacted your life.
Image Credit: Where Were You? Events That Changed The World 26-episode series graphic
I’m going to start with the world-wide phenomenon, Harry Potter, in honor of the final installment of the Harry Potter film series hitting theatres. Little did we know that June 30, 1997 would mark the beginning of one of the largest and most widely followed book series of all time. There are few books that can claim the level of popularity and world-wide acclaim garnered by Harry Potter, first as a book series, and then as a film franchise. The books have literally inspired new words in the collective lexicon such as muggles, quidditch, patronus among others.
In June 1997 I had just completed my junior year of high school and was spending a month in Paris studying Parisian history and practicing my French. Honestly, my biggest memory from that summer was the news on the return flight home that a) Michael Jordan was retiring and b) Versace had been shot.
While I read the books, and enjoyed them, I was outside of the target demographic so I wasn’t fully aware of the media blitz. I really didn’t comprehend the magnitude of the series until I started working at a bookstore the summer after my freshman year in college. At that point the third book was being released and we were staying open late to accommodate avid readers who wanted to purchase the book at the stroke of midnight. I realized then the impact that the printed word could make on a generation. Even now, as the Harry Potter films draw to a close, it’s obvious the impact that they have had on scores of young adults who grew up reading the books and watching the films. I can’t think of one book or film during my childhood that unified a generation, globally.
If you are thinking, “well this is really just a Western world phenomenon”, I can assure you that Harry Potter books were regularly checked out of the library in the small village where I lived in Africa. Now, to return to how Harry Potter affected me personally. While I don’t have one moment where Harry Potter touched my life, I do believe that the series provided inspiration for me as a writer and a reader. While I may never write a best-selling novel or change the world with my words I was personally inspired by what J.K. Rowlings brought to the page and how she used words to open up a new, unseen world to readers. There are not many authors who can imbue a book with the level of literary magic and bring an entire wizarding world to life but Rowlings accomplished it here. These works continue to inspire my own writing, whether a blog, journal entry, or report. I am constantly striving to bring my stories to life and use my words to make an impact on my readers. So thank you Harry Potter and thank you J.K. Rowlings for making me a better writer.