Harry Potter: The Boy Who Kept Books Alive

This morning, I read an essay entitled “Harry Potter, RIP” by fantasy writer Lev Grossman. As he pointed out, for those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s, reading, especially fantasy books, labeled you as uncool. I sucked at sports, I didn’t care about what type of engine was in a car, and I was definitely an introvert. Add to the fact that I always had a book in my hand, and I was considered a freak. How was an 18-year-old kid supposed to explain to a girl I was attracted to that the book I had by Camus was not called The Myth of Syphilis?

Along comes Harry Potter, at a time when people are predicting the demise of books, and a cultural transformation occurs. Young people become excited about reading, and older people accept fantasy books. It was like — magic! As Grossman says in his essay: “The world changed around us: Harry Potter made everyone a little bit uncool.” And the fact is, when everyone is uncool, the uncool become cool.

I have wonderful memories of squeezing into a bookstore with my children and anxiously waiting until midnight for the next Harry Potter book to come out, and I will cherish those memories. When I look at my kids engaged in a book, laughing out loud as they read, I am aware of the impact that Harry Potter had on them and how he single-handedly managed to keep books alive.


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