There is a deep, dark part of me that is a bit of a literary snob. That is the part of me that so often resists reading something that is wildly popular because I assume it is only popular because it is popular. When that wildly popular thing turns out to deserve its popularity, well, I’m somewhat surprised. This was the case for me with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I have been telling myself for the past 15 years or so that I was going to read this book series eventually. And I have many friends and family whose literary opinions I trust that have read it and loved it. Still, the dark literary snob inside held me back.
Let me be clear here. I have absolutely no problem with children’s novels. Some of the greatest novels of all time have been children’s novels. There are many, many great ones. My personal favorites: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Hobbit, The Magician’s Nephew, A Wrinkle In Time, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Although The Sorcerer’s Stone never quite attains the greatness of the five I mentioned—and probably many other children’s classics—I believe it will join their ranks as a children’s classic.
I award 1000 points to the house of J.K. Rowling for creating this world of pure imagination. Unless you live under a rock (which sounds excessively uncomfortable so I hope that’s not the case), you will probably know that this first book in the Harry Potter series introduces the very magical the orphaned Harry Potter son of two famed wizarding parents. The great wizard Dumbledore leaves the infant to be raised by the horrible Dursleys, the muggliest muggles in all muggledom. Literally the second (“Literally” isn’t a meaningless article here. This is literally literally) Harry turns 11 big old Hagrid whisks him off to join the wizard school Hogwarts to begin a magical journey that will extend for six more books. This first episodic adventure was highly enjoyable, wonderfully imaginative, and chock full of superbly crafted characters. But it is a children’s book so keep your adult logical thinking out of it. Such logic will make you question things like having a large school of kids who know how to cast spells on one another, guarding a very precious item with supposedly impenetrable charms that are so lame that even kids can get past them in a few minutes, or allowing students to participate in school-sponsored activities that could easily get them seriously injured or even killed.
But, fellow literary snobs of the world, recognizing these things shouldn’t impede your enjoyment of said story. I have been told by those who are already very familiar with the entire book series that it gets even better in further books. Can’t wait to continue the journey with Potter. So don’t be a Dursley, join the journey.