Harry Potter Reread 2014

[HP Reread 2014] Philosopher’s Stone Check-in #1

hp-bannerI, along with some of my favourite bloggers, am rereading all seven books this year. Here on MVB, I will be livetweeting as I read, as well as writing up a bi-weekly recap of where I’m at in the book. When I was first discovering the series, I read so quickly that I never really let myself savour each word, so I am very much looking forward to taking my time and letting everything I love about Harry’s story sink in.

hp1The Chapters: 

  1. The Boy Who Lived
  2. The Vanishing Glass
  3. The Letters from No One
  4. The Keeper of the Keys
  5. Diagon Alley
  6. The Journey From Platform Nine and Three-Quarters
  7. The Sorting Hat
  8. The Potions Master
  9. The Midnight Duel
  10. Halloween

The Highlights:

  • The Dursleys figure prominently among the many things I will admit to have forgotten about the series. When I settled in to read, it felt like an eternity before I finally got to something remotely magical (after Dumbledore and McGonagall’s first appearance, which I’ll discuss in more detail later). It was almost too easy to forget that this is a book about wizards while reading the first three chapters, and that is a credit to Rowling’s writing style. The language and melody of those chapters are so ordinary, so normal that the surprise of Harry’s true nature is still just that: a most welcome surprise.
  • Speaking of surprises, the first description we get of Albus Dumbledore was a lovely one. The details are exactly right for the portrait Rowling paints in her readers’ heads–we trust this man immediately, and how could we not with his purple cloak and “light, bright” blue eyes? Professor McGonagall’s clear respect for him is another nudge in that direction. He is the Eccentric Mentor viewers of media recognize with a snap of the fingers.
  • I don’t know anyone who hates Hagrid, and between you and me, I don’t think I could trust someone who does. There is a very real innocence to Hagrid that hurts to recognize over a decade later, and I wish there was a way to spare him the pain to come.
  • First mentions of Lily and James Potter, and I may or may not have reached for my tissue box. One thing you should know about me is that the Marauder Era is my favourite bit of HP history, and Lily Evans is actually my favourite character in the series. (If we’re narrowing it down to Harry’s era, then Hermione for sure.) I already know OotP and Deathly Hallows are going to hurt.
  • Diagon Alley is a dream come true. Sure, the Wizarding World theme park has done an amazing job at recreating the famous shopping street, but all of those images flew from my mind while I reread this chapter. I loved seeing the school list again–school supply shopping is one of my all-time favourite things–as well as imagining what Diagon Alley looks like all over again.
  • Professor Quirrell is creepy, end of.
  • The introduction of Draco Malfoy (and subsequently, Harry’s main foil among his peers) is an interesting one. It isn’t in Ollivander’s or Gringotts, places where social standing or knowledge of the wizarding world would be obvious from the start. It takes place at Madam Malkin’s, and both boys are being measured for their robes. Here, both of them see each other as equals, and they wear the same colours. Appearances can cloak many negative traits, and if Draco had maybe kept to small talk, Harry would not have been set against his friendship before they got to Hogwarts. As it stands, Draco saw Harry as another boy like himself, and acted accordingly. In wanting to be liked and admired, Draco ensured that Harry wouldn’t ever be among that number.
  • HUFFLEPUFF. Yes, I identify as a Puff, and yes, I’ll admit to being a bit miffed that Hagrid’s description of my House is “a load o’ duffers.” But I will take comfort in J.K. Rowling’s own admission that Hufflepuff is her “favourite house in some ways.”
  • The wand scene in Ollivander’s is one that I thought was enriched by the film. There’s something about seeing Ollivander’s wide eyes as the wand comes to life in Harry’s hand, and as the scene replayed in my head, I definitely got goosebumps.
  • Every hero needs a sidekick, but Ron Weasley is not just a sidekick. When Harry first meets him, Ron is actually the kid with everything Harry has always wanted: a family, security, and an understanding of who he is and the world he lives in. But Ron, unlike Draco, is kind, and he literally offers Harry a hand into his world. Ron spends much of the series thinking that he needs Harry more than Harry needs him, but without Ron, Harry would never have made it as far as he did outside of his own self.
  • I trusted Hermione as soon as she started babbling nervously about houses. Her insecurity and fear of not being worthy of her magic is something I can absolutely relate to. I also found it telling that her first appearance in the series is due to helping Neville–she too is kind underneath the bravado, and she doesn’t judge people straightaway.
  • “The Sorting Hat” is the first time we see Harry making an active choice about his magical life–he won’t go to Slytherin, he just won’t. Even without the knowledge of Voldemort as a Slytherin, he decides he wants to be “brave at heart” and “daring,” and maybe for now that’s because he’s afraid, but over the course of the series, I think he accomplishes that beautifully.
  • Snape is a great character, but just not a decent human being, and I won’t budge on that.
  • The Golden Trio’s first adventure–okay, an accidental jaunt into the forbidden corridor on the third floor–left me misty-eyed, and I wanted to hug them all after Hermione declared “We could have been killed–or worse, expelled.”
gif by fantasticfangirls.org

gif by fantasticfangirls.org

  • I get emotional about Halloween in the HP universe for several reasons, but this chapter is pretty high up on the list. Ron and Harry care about Hermione, though neither of them really realize it at the time, and rereading how they ran off to warn her gave me all the feelings.

Thinking of joining in? Sign up over @ Just A Lil’ Lost, and note down the schedule below!

  • January: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone
  • February: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • March: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • April: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • May: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • June: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • July: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
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10 replies »

  1. I really like that you’re making sure you take your time with this reread! I’m going to have to make a conscious effort to slow down, too. I read this one in two sittings but it was still pretty quick. I find it very interesting that Lily is your favourite character! She’s amazing, absolutely, but other characters stood out more for me. Ron is my favourite, which is why I totally and completely agree with you when you say that Ron was more than just a sidekick. I write something like that in my post that’ll be up in a couple of days. LOVE your insight on how Draco and Harry met. That’s worthy of a university level essay! Diagon Alley is my favourite part of the entire book (along with Christmas and the end of year feast). Just adore it. I got a little thrill when he got his shopping list and then when he entered the wizarding world for the first time. Love love love. Just like I love this post. Seriously amazing insights. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to read the rest of your posts!

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