I think the biggest indicator of a book’s true success is that it’s one readers want to experience over and over again. I love a lot of books, but there are only a handful that I come back to over and over again.
I’m currently in the middle of another Harry Potter re-read. (I’m in the middle of Chamber of Secrets as I write this.) Of course, I’m enjoying the books as much as I have every other time I’ve read them.
When I think about it, that’s kind of crazy. I first read Harry Potter when I was eight years old. The fact that I still get as much enjoyment out of them now as I did then isn’t a common phenomenon. There are books people love because of how they felt as a kid, but only a fraction get the same reaction when people read them as adults. I know Harry Potter is one of those series for a lot of people.
This time around, I’m staying pretty conscious of that as I read. What is it about Harry Potter that manages to do that? It’s something I’ve thought about before, of course, but I’ve never kept it at the forefront of my mind while reading. (Usually, I’m too caught up in the story itself to be bothered.)
I already have opinions on what it is, but I’m trying to measure that up with my experience to see if those opinions continue to hold weight. It’s still early on in the re-read, so we’ll see what I think by the end of it.
Surely there’s a number of things that are all coming together. There can’t be one secret to the entire phenomenon that Harry Potter has been. Still, the fact that Harry Potter managed to be as big as it is means that it, or J.K. Rowling rather, managed to do something right.
As a writer, I can’t help but have a curiosity as to what that is, not that I’ll ever be able to replicate it. (As a Potter fan since childhood, I’ll continue to be influenced by Harry Potter, even subconsciously.)