I want to start this off by explaining how this will differ from my usual reviews. I normally talk about the book without too many spoilers, and just give a general overview of what I thought of the book, but with these re-reads I want to do more of a deep dive without restrictions. I am going to talk about spoilers freely, and share any thoughts I have not only about how I like the book now, but how my opinions on it have changed since the first time I read these books years ago. I think there is always value to be had in revisiting something you enjoy, especially after years have passed and you have gained new knowledge and experience.
It would be impossible to share my thoughts on how this series has held up over time without mentioning J. K. Rowling and her recent exploits on Twitter. She has tweeted in the past about her transphobic ideals and it has recently come up again. It pains me to see that someone with her platform and level of influence (over young people especially) can be this tone-deaf and hateful. It makes it feel weird to love the franchise that she created, knowing that she doesn’t support everyone equally, and that she doesn’t use the fame that this franchise has brought her in order to better the world.
At the end of the day I think the franchise can be divorced from the creator, especially when it has become as huge as Harry Potter. Harry Potter means so much to so many people and the backwards thoughts of its creator cannot take away the feelings of happiness and togetherness the franchise has given to so many of us. With all that said, onto my thoughts after re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone!
Reading these books for the first time since my childhood sent me on a trip down nostalgia lane. I forgot how much I loved the world and how much I missed it. Feeling as though I was walking down Diagon Alley with Harry and Hagrid, or hiding under the invisibility cloak with Harry as he made his way to the forbidden section of the library brought back those feelings of childlike wonder that are so fleeting nowadays. I have read so many other books that centered around magic and none of them ever seem to capture that same cozy feeling that I seem to get when I think of walking through the halls of Hogwarts. There’s just something, dare I say “magical”, about this world that sets it above the rest. I don’t know if that is just nostalgia talking or if it is actually just that good, but it fills a void that nothing else seems to be able to do.
I didn’t remember how short this first book is, it feels like Harry had just gotten to Hogwarts before the story is over. I felt like I could have used another 100-200 more pages about his time at school, but maybe reading about everyday life and classes would have gotten monotonous over time. I just remember it being so much more in depth, but I could be conflating my memories of the book with my memories of the movie. Either way it was fun to be re-introduced to these characters again. Harry and Ron obviously hit it off and become best friends almost immediately, but I forgot about how mean Harry and Ron are to Hermione at first. It seems like most of the interactions they have with her involve her annoying them in some way, at least up until they save her from the troll in the bathroom.
One thing I didn’t realize when thinking back on the books was how weird the pacing felt. I don’t know if I was misremembering or conflating my memories of the movies with the books, but I felt like the section where they go through the traps to reach the stone took a lot longer. In reality it was only like 10-15 pages right at the end of the book. It felt like the ending was a bit rushed and after the events with the stone, when Harry wakes up in the hospital bed, everything seems to move at light speed. I would have liked a bit more time at the end of the book for Harry to say goodbye to his friends for the summer before he has to go back to living with the Dursleys. I understand that he wasn’t afraid of living with them anymore because he could scare them off with the threat of the magic he isn’t even allowed to use, but it still felt like a rushed ending with little care put into it.
Overall I really enjoyed reading this book again. It was such a great trip down memory lane, putting me right back into that mindset where I first started this series and looked at it with such wonder. It took me back to a time where the politics of the world were outside of my realm of thinking, and even the stupid and hateful comments of the author herself had no bearing on my feelings of what I was reading. Harry Potter is a special series that means something a little different to all of us and I hope that we can get to a place where we can enjoy this series again even though the author seems to spew out a new idiotic tweet every other week. Even if she is problematic, we should remember that for a lot of us this is the series that got us into reading and nudged us along the path we are on currently.
As always, thanks so much for reading. Let me know if you have re-read this book recently and what you think about it in the comments down below. Have JKR’s recent tweets made you look at the franchise differently? Either way check back for new posts (at least) every Wednesday and Saturday and sign-up via email to make sure you never miss a thing! Be safe and have a great day!