October 28, 2013

Harry Potter: The Sisterly Book Club Edition

Note from Jessica: I've been wanting to re-read Harry Potter anyway; but after reading Kim's post, I really want to do it book club style! Be sure to check out Kim's blog, Sophisticated Dorkiness, where she gives tons of great nonfiction recommendations. (And don't miss the rest of the Books and Babies guest posts!)
My younger sister, Jenny, and I have always been avid readers. In general, we have very different taste in books. I tend to learn towards nonfiction and literary fiction with a smattering of genre fiction, while Jenny reads almost exclusively YA fiction, chick lit and historical fiction. But the one series we both unabashedly love is Harry Potter. 

Harry Potter: The Sisterly Book Club EditionI was 12 years old in 1998 when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone came out in the United States. Our family didn't get into the series until after the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but we've been hooked ever since. When we were kids, my mom had to develop an elaborate system to decide who got to read our one copy of the book that we bought on release day, and we spent hours speculating about the rumors that swirled before each new book. We never went to any midnight release parties, but we both stayed up late at night reading (and comparing and analyzing and freaking out over) every single one. 

This summer (coincidentally, the fifteenth anniversary of the publishing of the first book), Jenny and I decided to re-read the entire series together. We've been exploring how our initial impressions and memories of the books hold up over time and with the knowledge of where the story is going. 

Harry Potter: The Sisterly Book Club EditionOne of my favorite things about revisiting the series as an adult is seeing the characters from a different perspective. Jenny and I were close to Harry's age when we read the books for the first time; reading them as an adult is fun because of the ways we've changed while the characters have not. The first time I read book six, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I thought Harry was very melodramatic. Seeing it now, I can better understand how frustrated he was (and how difficult it is when you're young and feel like you're not being trusted by the people around you). I didn't have enough space from my own teenage angst to appreciate that at the time. 

Rowling is also adept at dropping small clues that become important later. My favorite from the book we just finished, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is when Harry is trying to find a place to hide his potions textbook from Snape. He sneaks into the room of requirement and hides it in a cupboard, putting a gold bust, wig, and tiara on top to help him find it again. I'm almost certain the tiara is really Rowena Raveclaw's diadem, which Harry finds during the Battle of Hogwarts in book seven and destroys as one of Voldemort's Horcruxes. 

This is a project I can't imagine doing without Jenny. In revisiting the books we get to revisit our childhood and the memories we have from reading these books together. I've always thought that the best part about reading is getting to share books with others -- particularly books that have as many emotional memories as this series does. 

Do you share reading tastes with your siblings? What's your favorite part of Harry Potter?