The Harry Potter Project: A Pensieve of Stories

First, I’d just like to say thank you for your responses. It’s been wonderful to read them–I hope you enjoy the wide variety of responses that we received.  Second, I’d like to say thank you to J.K. Rowling because without we would not have the stories and without her I know some of us would not even know each other. Third, thank you to the “big seven” for making the movies come to life. And remember, CONSTANT VIGILANCE!


It was summer of 1999, and my parents and I were at the train station in Boston, about to visit some relatives. While waiting, I perused the gift shop and one book caught my eye. It was the first Harry Potter book. While browsing through it and reading snippets I was reminded of my favorite childhood author, Roald Dahl. Their style of writing seemed similar to me, and I pointed this out to my parents. I then made a mental note to look further into the book later. That Christmas, I received a present from my Dad. This was significant because he never had anything to do with buying the presents. My mom always did all the shopping and the wrapping. But here was this present that he had gone out and bought by himself just for me. When I opened it, I was pleasantly surprised to see two Harry Potter books! He had gotten a little mixed up and bought the first and third in the series, but that is definitely my favorite Harry Potter memory.


Stop me if I’m oversharing or you’re not interested, but I read books one through four for the first time back to back and outside in the Chapel Glen in Fort Douglas up by the new dorms at the University of Utah.  If you’re driving to Primary Children’s Hospital, just look to the right immediately after driving under the big suspension bridge that they built for the Olympics and you’ll see the grassy ravine I’m talking about.  There’s enough trees there that when you’re down inside you can’t see buildings or hear traffic noise from above and it’s almost like being in the woods, but in the middle of a major metropolis (kind of like magic exists unbeknownst to Muggles nearby).  It was the summer of 2000 and I’d come to school two weeks early to do an intensive language class for freshmen.  I borrowed the books from the Hubbard’s and returned them all before the fall semester began.

That’s not my favorite memory.  I’ve attached a picture of my Halloween costume from October 2000.  Granted, my red cape wasn’t exactly a school uniform robe, but I did spike my hair and try for striped rugby shirts that British youth wear.  Without the glasses and the broom, you might never guess, but I was a poor college students and it didn’t matter anyway because none, I mean NONE, of my classmates had even heard of Harry Potter.  Everyone except for Marissa, that is.  I wore this same outfit to the midnight premiere of the first movie at the newly opened Gateway mall theater, and the only thing people complemented me on was the lipstick lightning bolt on my forehead.  Everyone arrived at the theater hours in advance so they let us get seated around 11:30 and then screened Looney Tunes cartoons until midnight.  That is my favorite Pottermem.


The 2 highlighted parts both bring tears to my eyes everytime.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Chapter 23: Christmas On the Closed Ward

But Neville had already stretched out his hand, into which his mother dropped an empty Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum wrapper.

‘Very nice, dear,’ said Neville’s grandmother in a falsely cheery voice, patting his mother on the shoulder.

But Neville said quietly, Thanks, Mum.’

His mother tottered away, back up the ward, humming to herself. Neville looked around at the others, his expression defiant, as though daring them to laugh, but Harry did not think he’d ever found anything less funny in his life.

‘Well, we’d better get back,’ sighed Mrs Longbottom, drawing on long green gloves. ‘Very nice to have met you all. Neville, put that wrapper in the bin, she must have given you enough of them to paper your bedroom by now.’

But as they left, Harry was sure he saw Neville slip the sweet wrapper into his pocket.


Harry Potter… What do you say about Mr. Potter? I’ve been thinking about this for a few days, agonizing over what I’d write (because, let’s face it, this is me). Do I write about the moment in Goblet of Fire when I first realized the road that Hermione and Ron were going down? Do I write about the loud…”discussions” I’ve had with people who thought Harry should end up with anyone except Ginny? Or what about the fact that Order of the Phoenix is the only book to ever get me so agitated that I actually shouted at it. Out loud. (I may or may not have threatened to throw it across the room, as well. I’m pleading the Fifth on that one.)

But then I realized that there was one event that made all of these other things possible.

Picture it: New York City, 2001. The streets were packed with wizards and Parrot Heads that night…

Prior to the release of the first Potter film, I was only moderately aware of the books. I had seen them around. My sister, a reading teacher, had bought each of the hardcovers for our little cousin. A friend of mine was reading them. But, for whatever reason, I just hadn’t given them much thought. However, my lack of Potter-mania at the time did prevent me from going to see the first movie when it opened that blustery (I’m assuming) November night.

A friend–not the one who was already reading the Potter books–invited me to join a group of his co-workers who were going to see Philosopher’s Stone on opening night. I love a good movie. Ask anyone. They’ll tell you: “Dan loves a good movie.” So, that being the case, I agreed to join them.

I don’t think I need to explain my reaction to the movie. Just re-read the first paragraph, you’ll see that I’ve been a fan ever since that night. A few months later, I bought the box set of the first four paperbacks. I was reading them by the time Chamber of Secrets came to theaters. I was well ahead of things when the third movie came out. No, the fact that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone made me a fan is not really the point of all of this. I bet you’re now wondering what the point is. Well, the point is this: Regardless of everything that has come after, when I think of Harry Potter, the first image that comes to mind is walking out of that theater and seeing people dressed as witches and wizards, of walking to the subway in a crowd of Potter-clad individuals, and passing through a group of Parrot Heads.

That’s right. On the same night that I saw the first Harry Potter movie, Jimmy Buffet was performing not two blocks away at the majestic (I guess?) Madison Square Garden. New York can be strange enough on a regular night, but finding yourself surrounded by people in robes and witches’ hats, not to mention people in Hawaiian shirts and parrot hats is just one of those moments that will be with you forever.

Just writing about that night is making me grin like an idiot. And, despite all of the loss, pain, and suffering in the Potter series, these books are about so much more than that. For me, Harry Potter is about love, family, and friendship. Y’know, all the things that make you grin like an idiot.


I was in high school when the first few books came out and, as luck would have it, I worked at a library at the time. And THANK GOD, you know? Because I’m not sure, had I not worked there, at what point I would have discovered them. I went to the break room one afternoon, sort of bummed that all of my work friends were on different schedules that day, because it meant I was on break alone and couldn’t spend it giggling over stupid things with them like I normally did. Little did I know, I was about to get an injection of MAGIC, STRAIGHT TO THE HEART. That works like adrenaline, in case you were wondering, only it’s less painful because magic injections don’t use actual pointy needles (because of magic, duh) like adrenaline injections do OMG WHAT AM I TALKING ABOUT?

Anyway. The children’s librarian, a delightfully batty old woman, was in there, placing a paperback book on the break room table. She smiled at me as she walked out of the room, I sat down at the table with a soda, and picked up the book. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” I read aloud. I shrugged, opened the book, and settled into my short break. I was a few chapters in by the time my break was over, but instead of leaving it on the break room table where I found it, I took it up front and checked it out, along with Chamber of Secrets. I still remember how I felt when I read those first few chapters of The Sorcerer’s Stone…the surprise, the absolute giddy surprise at the magic being unfurled before me. The pull to finish what I’d started, the primal need to KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, that lasted until the very (tear-filled) end. When I finished the last book, I remember thinking, “well, at least there are some movies left.” Now that EVERYTHING is almost over, I’m mostly just worried…worried that I’ll never read a book that makes me feel the way these books did, of course, but also worried that I’m going to completely embarrass myself in the movie theater by becoming a sobbing, snotty mess. You know, sort of like what happened during Deathly Hallows, part 1.

(the end, hee)


A little farewell inspired by the event

The world is too big and life is too short,
You are no Harry and no Voldemort.
Not even a sidekick — bystander at best,
Watching the heroes to go on a quest.

Exit the theater, close the book,
Hear one more sound, take one more look.
It felt so real, but magic is gone
You are not Chosen, you are just one.


Before I moved to California to be an adult, I spent most of my summers at HoneyRock Camp in Northern Wisconsin. First as a camper and later on staff. I repaired roofs, built outhouses, cleaned toilets, and washed dishes every summer while Jo Rowling released Harry Potter books. I read the first three books in one weekend after stealing them from my brother and then, since I was out of books to read, quickly forgot about the magic of Hogwarts and focused on the forthcoming magic of HoneyRock in the summer of 2000. I’m ashamed of forgetting, of not knowing Emerson Spartz or anticipating the films or longing for more pages and it’s hard to say that out loud. It’s hard to admit there was a time when I didn’t count down the days to a new cauldron and a trip to Diagon Alley. But so was the case and I was involved in my own life which was living on my own, working on my own, and being a social butterfly for the first time ever, even if it was within the confines of a camp in Three Lakes. But my friend Paul was doing both things. He was repairing roofs and washing dishes and staying up with me playing Candy Land til 3 in the morning and he was also waiting and waiting and waiting for Goblet of Fire.

Our schedule didn’t allow for us to travel and so he couldn’t make the three hour drive to the nearest Barnes and Noble to wait in line at midnight. Instead he used a pay phone to call (call!) and arrange a very special owl post out to our own little magical village. The day the tome was scheduled to arrive (two days after the release date and the fastest he could convince them to get it to us in the woods) he was sick with worry. He stopped by the camp office four times that morning to see if the UPS truck had arrived. When our boss asked where he was, I covered for him, enamored with the love he had for this story. I was jealous that he was a fan of something and I was just a fan of staying up late and boys and life in general. I didn’t know what fan meant yet. The internet was still a baby. The book showed up at 5:25 pm while Paul and I were on dinner duty. I remember someone bringing the box up to the kitchen and he quickly ripped it open and ran his hand over the front, the spine, and the back, the way I’ve seen so many readers turn so many books since. Then he cracked it open somewhere in the middle, wanting a taste but also not wanting spoilers. He wanted to see Hogwarts for a brief second before returning to our meal in our own great hall in our own magical place. The book waited in his backpack for a few hours until we were free for the evening.

There was no Candy Land that night. Paul sat in a corner that night flying through pages. I was with other friends, happy in conversation trying to make people laugh and trying to make people like me. But my mad-eye in the back of my head was watching him read. I was painfully jealous of the idea of loving Harry so much and I was grieving my lack of obsession. Before heading back to our cabins after pushing the evening too late again, Paul tucked his book in with Candy Land in our cupboard of toys and games and books. He’d be back in a few short hours after the breakfast shift and back at Lower Chrouser to read before lunch.

The book was gone the next morning. Paul was mortified. He emptied the cupboard (under the stairs) and laid out each board game, each pioneer-era romance novel, each deck of cards hoping that somehow 734 pages of the Triwizard Tournament had slipped beneath the cracks. But in the five hours of darkness, someone had slipped in and taken it. He launched a camp-wide search. Who had access to the room? There were less than 50 of us that used that space and we all knew each other. Who may have been in there in the middle of the night? Who may have been confused as to who the book belonged to? But it was no accident. Everyone knew it was Paul’s book. In fact, everyone knew it was the only copy on campus. And also his name was on it. He asked everyone personally. He made signs. Everyone was blank faced. We felt sorry for him.

Four long, painful days later the book was back in the cupboard under the stairs of Lower Chrouser. As quietly as it had vanished it was back. Inside was a thank you note and an apology. One of us fifty stole it, the anonymous thief admitted. They were very, very sorry, and they knew how much it meant to him, but they had picked up the book in the middle of a sleepless night and couldn’t put it down. They had never met Dumbledore before, but they couldn’t stay away. And they couldn’t bear the thought of not finishing the book and so in a moment of shame they stole the book away, to illicitly read somewhere else, to know magic. Paul finished the book quickly after that. By then the cupboard sported a wait list where we had all scrawled our names, hoping to borrow the magic too.


My favorite moment is when Dumbledore tells Harry about the chosen one prophecy, and how Neville could have been the chosen one. Now, I should disclose that this was the only chapter of the book I read (which book I do not recall), and in fact, I’ve only ever fully read the first book. What makes this my favorite moment is that my former roommate, Ashley (Narfna), got so upset when I told her what I had done. For some reason, she believed it was wrong to seek out the spoilers and disregard the remainder of the books. I think she was equally appalled that I discovered Dumbledore’s death without having to read the books. But really, she likes Twilight, so can I really trust her tastes in books like Harry Potter? I think not.


I had a pretty normal childhood. I went to elementary school, got gold stars on book reports, went on field trips and occasionally turned frogs into lamps. It wasn’t anything I planned to do. My teachers arranged all the field trips and I just went along on the bus. The day before my eleventh birthday I could tell something was different. There was something strange in the air. In general it was a sense of wonder and danger and foreboding. To be more specific, it was like, a thousand owls. The day of my eleventh birthday one of these owls dropped a letter in my mailbox. Which was, by the way, coated in owl poop. It was disgusting.
The front of the envelope read in bright green ink:
The Upstairs Closet.
Her Parents’ House.
It’s The Two Story With Red Brick And A Big Pear Tree In The Front Yard.
Not The One With The Bright Yellow Mailbox, Because The Owners Were Trying To Be “Edgy.” That Place Is Muggle City.
The City Where She Lives
That State, You Know, The Big One
As a wise old wizard once said, stuff was about to get real. According to the letter (which had no return address,  something I later would identify as the first sign that something was wrong) I had been accepted into the school of Hogwarts  School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. My parents were not thrilled, but soon more owls came along and pecked them to death. I boarded a flight to England the very next day.
A seven hour economy class flight is no one’s idea of a magical way to get anywhere, but it was about to get better, because I had a train ride of an indeterminate length to look forward to. Several kids on the train (which was almost impossible to find FYI) were like me. They had never heard of Hogwarts, never remember to applying to any school anywhere. But we each had some experience with accidentally performing magic, which seems like a legit way to accept people into anything.
After what seemed like hours on this “magical” train ride, I had made a few friends. And we all agreed to hate the kids who had clearly been accepted as legacies. Luckily these students were easy to spot, as they were marked by scars or flaming orange hair.Upon arrival to Hogwarts, a dirty hat was placed upon our heads to determine which dorm we would be sleeping in (second sign of trouble). My dorm was called Hufflepuff and for some reason my placement within this dorm was received with apathetic stares, which I wouldn’t have minded had it not seemed like every other dorm’s new resident got cheers or boos. And the new Hufflepuffs got nothing? Not even boos? I mean, this place literally had ghosts floating around and I didn’t even hear a single boo from them. FROM. MOTHERFLIPPING. GHOSTS.
As a Hufflepuff, I soon realized this was the nature of the game. The hot shots in Gryffindor and Slytherin would fight each other, while the Ravenclaws collected overdue library book fees in a tireless effort to (raven)claw their way to the middle. And no one paid any attention to the Hufflepuffs, unless they wanted a magic plant or something. And what was our reward for  growing and nurturing and cultivating these life saving plants (gardening being a thing which YOU’RE NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO USE MAGIC TO DO)? Some sarcastic muttered thanks and a smidgen of end of the year points for Hufflepuffs.
By my fourth year I finally had enough and dropped out with a few of my fellow Hufflepuffs and one of the dumber Ravenclaws. We decided to buy a van and follow a metal band around the UK. Through a series of comic misunderstandings, instead of following the band Deatheaters, we ended up following a band of Death Eaters.
Long story short, I became a death eater and I killed a bunch of people with plants.


In one swift, fluid motion, Neville broke free of the Body-Bind Curse upon him; the flaming hat fell off him and he drew from its depths something silver, with a glittering, rubied handle —

The slash of the silver blade could not be heard over the roar of the oncoming crowd or the sounds of the clashing giants or of the stampeding centaurs, and yet it seemed to draw every eye.  With a single stroke Neville sliced off the great snake’s head, which spun high into the air, gleaming in the light flooding from the entrance hall, and Voldemort’s mouth was open in in a scream of fury that nobody could hear, and the snake’s body thudded to the ground at his feet…

The real hero is:
Destroyer of Horcruxes,
Neville Longbottom


My favorite feeling in the entire world is that feeling you get when you open up a new Harry Potter book for the first time and read the first sentence. I remember exactly where I was each time I did this.

Book One: Summer 1999. Found paperback copy of Sorcerer’s Stone on my sister’s floor (I was snooping). She was supposed to have read it for her book club, but of course hadn’t touched it. I sat down in the hallway right then and there and read straight until the scene when Harry climbs into Gryffindor tower for the first time. Then I stole the book, ’cause, hey, she wasn’t using it. This was around one in the morning. That night, I had a nightmare about the Sorting Hat telling Harry he was supposed to be in Slytherin. I believe this indicates I had already formed an unhealthy attachment, and it had only been an hour or so. (Sister never noticed that I stole her book, but I eventually made it up to her by getting her the complete set of hardcovers for her high school graduation.)
Books Two and Three: Christmas 1999. I got books one-three in hardcover from “Santa.” This was the Christmas my entire family had the flu, and Christmas dinner consisted of Campbell’s tomato soup bought from a Circle K at 8 o’clock at night. (Besides the Potter, my favorite thing about this story is how me, my mom, and my sister were able to be up and basically about, but my father took to his bed and acted like he was dying, despite that we all had THE EXACT SAME FLU. Men are pathetic, and the man cold is a real thing.) I sat in front of the Christmas tree all day while my family were miserable on the couch (or dying in bed) and read all of books one and two. My butt fell asleep and my back was hurty and I didn’t finish until 3 AM, but I was in love and couldn’t believe I had to wait SIX MORE MONTHS for book four. It seemed like an eternity.
Book Four: Six months later. I’ve told this story before. I wasn’t allowed to read Goblet of Fire until I finished my summer homework. That was the worst week of my life, but the wait was worth it. I put on my jammies, popped open the recliner, and started reading about the Riddles. I loved (love) that first chapter so much that I would later plagiarize it. Twice. (Unintentionally . . . sorry, Jo.) I believe this was also the book I timed myself while reading with an actual stop watch. I even paused it for pee-breaks and lunch and stuff. (Eight hours and thirteen minutes, if you’re interested . . . I wrote it on a post-it and stuck it in my book. The post-it is still there.)
Book Five: Summer 2003, and my first midnight release party. I almost vomited from excitement on the car-ride home. I also almost hit a garbage can because I was sneaking a peek at the first page instead of watching the road. Soon enough, Harry was under the bushes at 4 Privet Drive, and Ashley was in her recliner being so very happy. I stayed up as late as I could, then woke up at 7 AM to finish. I believe it took me 11 hours and some change. I may or may not have thrown the book onto the floor at some point, punctuating my violent gesture with a “BITCH!”, aimed at Dolores Umbridge. No fictional character has ever made me as mad, before or since.
Book Six: Summer 2006. For the first time, my sister and I were reading together. She’d just caught up on the series the year before, and had never participated in Potter madness. We were both living in a tiny apartment with our parents, who’d sold our big house months before, and we were sharing a trundle bed (she had the top, I had the bottom). We drove home like crazy people from the midnight release party, bounced into our trundle beds and then stayed up as late as we could, bleary-eyed and giddy. I think I made it to 3 AM, and she conked out around two. The next morning, I beat her to it, so I basically had a two hour head start on her. As we were reading, she kept getting mad at me because I couldn’t keep my trap shut. Every time something sad or funny or whatever happened, I would make a noise and she would be all ASHLEY SHUT UP and I was like BUT I CAN’T. I don’t exactly remember how we handled that whole Dumbledore dying thing. It probably wasn’t pretty.

Book Seven: After working a ten hour shift from hell at the Barnes & Noble midnight release party in Tucson, which involved waiting for all the Potterheads to clear out, and then closing the store, all the employees got to finally purchase their copies. This was around 2 AM, already, so by the time I got home, I could only read one chapter before passing out. I read the whole next day, until it was time to go see the fifth HP film, which I’d stupidly promised to go see with a friend, even though I’d already seen it at midnight the week before, and even though I hadn’t finished the book. I was so overcome by anxiety about this that I took the book with me to the movies and hugged it the entire time. I finally finished my last first Potter read around 11 PM. I was completely and utterly drained from crying so much. I was incoherently emotional. God, I miss that.

So the bad part about this is that I said goodbye to Harry Potter a long time ago. I know that a lot of people are feeling emotional about the end of the Potter era, but for me, that was four years ago, the moment I finished that last sentence: “All was well.” It’s funny because I was reading an Alias recap over on the AV Club today, and in it Ryan McGee started talking about this magic box that JJ Abrams owns and has been obsessed with since he was a kid. He calls it Tannen’s Magic Mystery Box. To quote McGee, “It’s a box that he bought with his grandfather as a child, and yet has never opened. To him, it’s not only a piece of nostalgia, but also something that represents, in his own words, ‘infinite possibility.'” As long as he doesn’t open that box, it could contain anything. It might contain everything, and as long as it remains unopened, in his imagination, it does contain everything. That’s what opening a Harry Potter book was like for me: “infinite possibility,” and that’s exactly what I feel like I’m losing every time I remember that it’s over. There are other stories, other universes of possibility, but there will never be another Harry Potter.

Gretchen Alice

Jim Dale serenaded us through many a roadtrip when we were children. My mom, kid brother, and I had all read the first four books and my dad practically knew them as well as we did, given how much we incessantly talked about the stories. The audiobooks, however, were a new way of approaching the story, a different angle for pulling it apart. (Not to mention that Jim Dale’s Hermione threw me into fits of giggles.) One trip took us to a new crop of outlet stores, maybe by Gallup or Santa Fe. The details of the shopping trip are hazy, but I clearly recall one dusty thatch of road where we listened to Chapter Ten from Sorcerer’s Stone–Halloween. In previous readings I loved this section because it’s where Hermione becomes a part of the group and even though I always knew that it would happen, I was relieved because Harry and Ron so clearly needed her. (She needed them, too.) Mr. Dales’ foreign tone kept me enthralled and got me thinking about friendship. So often formed out of disaster or need, our true friendships  will last us even if we’re dealing with things that make it hard for us to function as normal wizards, witches, or muggles. Not only did I want to be that kind of friend, but I wanted to make those kinds of friends, too. And, well, if that meant battling trolls together in the girls’ loo, then so be it. After all, “There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”

25 Responses to “The Harry Potter Project: A Pensieve of Stories”
  1. Ashley says:

    Gretchen: Thank you for this. When I was done reading, I had goosebumps over my entire body. But I can’t believe you published Emily’s post. I should have warned you about her. It’s like those signs you see at zoos, “Please don’t feed the monkeys.” Because what happens is the monkey starts throwing its poop at you. And then it smiles. That monkey is Emily.

    Emily: You are evil. I miss you. (P.S. I don’t like Twilight. Stop spreading lies.)

    Abigail: I’m pretty sure this is my favorite thing you’ve ever written.

    Elisabeth: You’re hilarious. I LOLed a the legacy part, but the best part was the last line. So much sarcasm and nonchalant anger. Brilliant.

    I just want to conclude this comment by saying how very sorry I feel for everyone who doesn’t love Harry Potter. They have no idea what they are missing, the idiots.

  2. srah says:

    Elisabeth, you are amazing in so many ways. And Dan, I also really love the early parts of Ron and Hermione’s relationship where you can see where it’s headed.

    • Gretchen Alice says:

      Ditto to Elisabeth. Just one of my favorite parts was “I mean, this place literally had ghosts floating around and I didn’t even hear a single boo from them. FROM. MOTHERFLIPPING. GHOSTS.”
      And, yeah, Ron and Hermione = true love for-eva!!!

  3. srah says:

    Since I interpreted the prompt differently, I want to add another Harry Potter moment in the comments:

    I read the first 3 books in the summer of 2000. I don’t have a lot of memories of how I got hooked, other than hearing an NPR story about how grown-ups were actually reading these children’s books and enjoying them, and wasn’t it amazing? So I decided to give it a try, and read all three before Goblet of Fire came out in July. When GOF did come out, my sister and I were hooked enough that there was NO WAY we were sharing a copy, so we both reserved our own copies and picked them up at midnight. We had prepared for our all-night reading session with a variety of snacks and we both got into our respective beds with our snacks and books. Turns out, GOF is pretty long, especially when you start it at midnight. So we started that night, read until we couldn’t keep our eyes open, slept, read all through Saturday, and then Saturday night at 3am, I remember eating pickles and sobbing over the death of Cedric Diggory and wanting to call out to my sister who hadn’t gotten to that point yet. “Where are you now?” “What’s happening now?” “How far along are you?” I prodded her until she finally finished the book and we could finally talk about it.

    Anyway, Cedric Diggory always makes me think of pickles now.

    • Ashley says:

      I think HP did this for a lot of sisters. HP is like therapy. It brings people together. One of my favorite memories (the one I wrote about above) is reading the sixth book with my sister. We were such different people when we were younger that it was actually one of the things that brought us closer together. I owe Jo Rowling so much.

      • Dan says:

        Funny sibling story: as I said, my sister was a reading teacher, so she heard about Harry Potter long before me, most likely through those amazing Scholastic Book Club things that you’re apparently not allowed to order from once you leave elementary school (boo, I say). She had the first four in hardcover. I didn’t get the first four until they were in paperback. I don’t think she’s read past the second book. Crazy, right? Whenever I saw my sister after finishing the latest book, I’d always ask her “Are you up to date? Did you catch up?” She never did.

        She did finish all of the Twilight books…so, maybe Ashley’s onto something there.

    • Gretchen Alice says:

      Sweet! Double memories!
      So one of my more absurd HP memories was when I went to go pick up the 6th book from our college town bookstore. I didn’t have a car at school, so I woke up early and walked about two miles so I could go buy it. The bookstore had extra book boxes and since I already had the box for the 5th book, I asked if I could have one of them. They said sure, so I tossed my book in the box and started walking back home.
      A couple blocks down the road, a family in a van pulled over and asked if I would like a ride. Usually this is code for “we’re going to do horrible things to you and demand a buttload of money from your family,” but this was Mormonville, Idaho. I wasn’t too worried. So I got in the back of the van, smooshed between their five obese children and they took me back to my dorm. Oh, not before they stopped by McDonalds to buy hash browns to give to homeless people on the road to Pocatello. TRUE STORY.
      Before I got out of the van, they asked me what was in the box. “Oh, it’s the new Harry Potter book.” “Just one book?” they asked. “It looked heavier than that, which is why we gave you a ride.” “Um…thanks anyway,” I said as I scurried away.

      • srah says:

        When book 7 came out, I was really frustrated because I live in a small town that doesn’t have a regular book store, so I thought I was either going to have to drive an hour to Cincinnati to wait in line, or just go up to Michigan and visit my family for the weekend (which would be a problem because driving would cut into my reading time). But it turned out that one of the college bookstores was doing a midnight opening for the book. Little children in costumes! My eyes teared up at all the little Luna Lovegoods and Hermiones while I sat outside the bookstore, waiting for it to open, being mocked by college students at the bar across the street. They opened the doors and, because it’s a small town, they had all kinds of fun activities and free stuff I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. Fold an origami snitch while you wait! Free licorice wands (Red Vines, what can’t they do?)! A Harry Potter line is always a great meeting place for kindred spirits, but a small-town Harry Potter line is even more fun and intimate.

        • srah says:

          Oh, and I also got dumped the weekend that HP7 came out, so I spent all Saturday crying, then all Sunday crying for a different reason, and then I went into this phase where I listened to nothing but Wizard Wrock and moaned about how Ron and Hermione were so perfect and I would never have anything like that.

          I am better now.

    • srah says:

      I am expecting that, any time now, as soon as she finds this post, my sister will show up and inform everyone that I am remembering it ALL WRONG and this is NOT the way any of it happened.

      There were definitely pickles, though!

  4. Craig says:

    I loved reading all of these.

    I had a hard time deciding on one, but here is at least one of my favorites: Early on in The Philoceror’s Stone, Hermione delivers the line that made me realize that I would either absolutely love her or absolutely hate her because we we too much alike: “We all could have been killed – or worse, expelled. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to bed.”

  5. NTE says:

    Love it ~ I’m so glad people are sharing their HP stories.

    Ashley – I agree: I’ve read a lot of evil characters, but I don’t think I’ve ever been madder (at a person in a book) than when Umbridge punishes Harry for the first time. It still makes me furious to even think about it.

    And I love how so many people are talking about their sisters and how this was a real connection for them: with 9 years, growing up in different houses, and an alcoholic father between us, my youngest sister and I weren’t exactly on the same page about everything. (we still aren’t.) But one of my all time favorite memories is laying on my bed the day the last book came out, head to feet, just reading for as long as we could. Me trying to slow down, her trying to hurry up, and both of us trying to hide tears or keep quiet so we wouldn’t ruin it for the other. It’s just a perfect day, a perfect memory, and I’m so glad to have it.

    • srah says:

      My mom dared to suggest that we could buy one copy of Goblet of Fire to share. NO, MOM, GOSHHHHHH. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.

      • Gretchen Alice says:

        Phil and I had to share GoF and OotP and by “share” I mean that I confiscated it until I was finished and then he could read it. I was always finished by the afternoon anyhow, so I didn’t care. (He did.)

        • Ashley says:

          I can’t believe you guys had to share! That is the worst thing I’ve ever heard of. Why did you just buy two copies?

          • Gretchen Alice says:

            Because my parents are two of the chintziest people that I know. I bought HBP by myself (story above) and with Deathly Hallows, my mom finally conceded to let us each have our own copy.

        • Dan says:

          Why older sisters gotta be so mean to younger brothers? Not cool.

  6. Dan says:

    Okay…now that I’m sitting here having my Cup-A-Soup*, I can make with the commenting.

    Paul: Love the costume.
    Ashley: I hate Umbridge. So much. More than any other character. More than Emma Frost. She made OotP so hard to read. Like I said, I shouted at the book. Loudly. If she were “I’m Gonna Light This Basket Full of Puppies on Fire” evil, that would be one thing. But, no. She’s the Officious Bureaucrat kind of evil. The worst kind of evil. Ugh. Hate.
    Aubrey: I’d forgotten that part. Oh, man. I blame the Hate. (see above)
    Elisabeth: “…one of the dumber Ravenclaws…” Heh.

    *:I’m not really having Cup-A-Soup, but a Bones reference is never a bad idea.

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