Reading literature provides tranquility
March 2, 2012
We are now well into the spring semester, and I don’t know about you, but I am swamped with homework. There are exams, papers, reading and projects to work on, which compete for my time with work, class and sleep. However, I have one fool-proof method to stay happy and relaxed during stressful times, which I discovered as a 4-year-old. I am a voracious reader. Ever since I discovered that particular skill, I have been read- ing everything. Books, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, signs, you name it and I will read it. My sign reading used to drive my mom crazy because as we would drive down the highway I would inform her of all the restaurants and stores.
I also got in trouble for reading at school. Every year it seemed as if there would be a book I couldn’t put down and so I would set it on my lap and read during class, or I would put it inside a textbook or notebook to hide my dirty habit better. I was obviously the cleverest kid around, but those teachers always found me out, and each year I would get chewed out for not paying attention. Oops.
I used to read all the time, but once high school was in the picture I was too busy to think, let alone focus on any reading that wasn’t for a class. I had a strict schedule that I adhered to religiously, in fear that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t do as well in school or I would miss something important. High school was all work for me, so college started out the same way. I stopped reading anything that wasn’t for class. My parents were worried when they found out since reading had been so important to me for so long.
Last semester was the easiest semester I have had in a re- ally long time, mainly because I was only taking 12 credits, a relatively low workload when compared to the mountains of class work of previous semesters. However, I still avoided my long-neglected books. Since I had purchased my first television, I watched cable whenever I finished my home- work, which was quite often. I must have watched seven to eights hours of television a day last semester.
After a couple months of obsessively watching TV, I was bored. The allure of cable had disappeared. Also, the last Harry Potter movie had been released on DVD. This may seem like a totally unrelated incident, but I assure you it had great effect. The Harry Potter series was the first set of books I ever fell in love with. Sure, I read tons of other books before delving into the world of Harry Potter, but no other books sucked me into the story like Harry Potter. I don’t even remember what age I was when I first read “Harry Pot- ter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” just that I was younger than 11. My mom had purchased the first four of the series, intending to read them, and when they sat there untouched I claimed them as my own. I think my best friend had discovered them first and implored me to read them.
I did, and quickly became obsessed. I had finished the first four some time before the movie adaptation was released, and when I saw the first movie, I was enchanted (no pun intended). I was 11 at the time, so I was the same age as Harry and his friends, which made his world all the more real to me. As Harry grew up in the movies, I grew up with him. I eagerly awaited the release of the last three books and the all the movies, and by the time the seventh, and last, book was released, I was thoroughly and forever more a Potter- head (the name concocted for a Potter fan). My family and I were on a road trip at the time of its release, and we were driving through South Dakota on our way to Yellowstone National Park. I persuaded my parents to stop in a South Dakota town so I could pick up my brand-new “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” copy. By the time we reached our hotel in Yellowstone, less than 12 hours later, I had finished the book and was on the phone with a friend, rehashing every detail. I remember sitting in the backseat bawling my eyes out because the book was over and my parents being slightly more than alarmed.
I realize I have just rambled on about my love for Harry Potter, but I needed to set up just how important Harry Potter was to my childhood. So when the last movie was released last semester, I realized it was over. There would be no more books, no more movies, and no more new adventures to go on with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I had delayed my good- byes to Harry Potter because I didn’t want to admit how torn up I was about it.
So around the time of the DVD release, I was browsing YouTube and came upon the movie premiere footage where all the big stars of the movie thanked everyone for their experiences, and J.K. Rowling, the magnificent author, stepped up into the spotlight. Her speech was a tear-jerker, yet it is near the end where she says something I will never forget: “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hog- warts will always be there to welcome you home.”
I was speechless. Actually, I could probably speak if I tried, but my excessive crying was getting in the way. It was then I realized that it would never be truly over. Genera- tions upon generations of kids, teenagers, and adults alike will continue to discover the wonderful books and depart on a journey so unlike any other it will make their heads spin. And I also realized that I could depart on that same journey, no matter how many times I have completed that journey, and I can relive the magic that inspired and awed me as a young girl, and will continue to as a young woman.
Harry Potter was the beginning of my childhood habit that I may have abandoned for a short time, but it is also the beginning of my adulthood habit that I hope will never be abandoned. Needless to say, I read everyday for at least an hour, snuggled in my loft with a clip-on lamp emitting a soft glow, while my roommate sleeps and the hour grows late. I may be losing sleep, but I have never been happier.
Amanda White is a junior majoring in journalism. She appreciates good books, good style, and good conversation.