Published September 1st 2014 by Bloomsbury (first published June 26th 1997)
Author: J. K. Rowling
Genre: Fantasy, Young adult, fiction
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
HARRY POTTER has never even heard of Hogwarts when the LETTERS start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in GREEN INK on yellowish parchment with a PURPLE SEAL, they are swiftly confiscated by is GRISLY aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed GIANT of a man called RUBEUS HAGRID bursts in with some ASTONISHING news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY. An incredible journey is about to begin!
I’m not going to review this book so much as tell my story of how I am coming to read the book for the first time, aged 23, and explore my first impressions and overall reading experience of it. I think most people I know will have read this book (and the series), and won’t need a review as such, so this will be a more personal getting down of thoughts as my journey with Harry Potter begins.
When this book was first published, I was three. There’s no way on earth I was even aware of the book or able to read it. When the first film came out, I was seven. Okay, that’s a more reasonable age to maybe start reading the books, but I don’t recall being aware of them even then.
It was when I was around 11/12 that I really started to find out about Harry Potter. I remember being in my first year of secondary school and being obsessed with the films that were out so far. I probably knew there were books out, but I had no desire to read them because believe it or not, I wasn’t a big reader.
I borrowed the first book off my friend. I say borrowed, I mean she insisted I take it and try to read it. I read the first page, or first paragraph and put it back down, and eventually gave the book back. It just wasn’t meant to be. I thought that because I was so into the films, the books would be lost on me, it was too late for me to read them.
So I continued acting out scenes from the first film with my friend, and crushing on Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) then leaving him and coming out as a Draco lover. It was a time in my life I can remember clearly, but I still had no connection to the books.
Somehow, I started gathering copies. A family friend’s brother decided to buy me Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, while my family friend bought me The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Quidditch Through the Ages. I also managed to acquire the first three books from charity shops.
I then became obsessed with the third film, and decided to start the third book. I got a little way in, but abandoned it. Since then, I’ve kept up with each film release, and own them all on DVD. Then, the beautiful Bloomsbury Children’s paperback box set was released, and that changed everything.
I saw the box set and I thought, ‘If I’m ever going to read the Harry Potter books, I’m going to read those editions, in that box set.’ It was perfect! Here I was, an adult, never read Harry Potter, and here was this box set just screaming at me to have it.
So I asked for it for Christmas. No such luck. I got money instead.
Then I said I’d buy it myself for Christmas. I didn’t, I hoped to receive it.
For a third year, I asked for it for Christmas. That’s all I wanted. It’s £29.99 on Amazon, that’s all you need to spend on me, THAT’S ALL I WANT.
Nope. Still no box set.
So, a few weeks ago I said all of this to my sister. Her husband LOVES Harry Potter. His books have been read so many times they’re falling apart. He reads them, then returns to the start and reads them again, and remains in a constant cycle of Harry Potter books. He does the same with the films. I complained to my sister how much I wanted this box set, and she said she’d buy it me for my birthday. Yes! Success! The next week, she passed me her phone, and I ordered it for myself on her Amazon account.
The week after that, it arrived. And she couldn’t resist letting me have it. Then, we booked a trip to London for April, and I decided that I’d start the books on April 1st, so I’d be reading them for our trip. THEN MY SISTER GOT ME AND HER HUBBY TICKETS FOR HARRY POTTER WORLD.
I started reading straight away. I began Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on the evening of Saturday February 10th 2018, and I finished it the next day. I can’t believe how quickly I read it, and it was as magical and absorbing as I hoped it would be.
I’ll never know what it’s like to read them as a child, but since deciding I wanted to read them as an adult, I’ve been distancing myself from the films. I’ve been on a Harry Potter film ban for years, so that I’m not just thinking of the films when I read the books.
But, I’ve realised that I did imagine scenes from the film when reading. However, this didn’t matter because I was reading Harry Potter. That’s all that matters.
My favourite character so far is Hagrid. I love the way he speaks, I love the things he does, he’s just a really great character. They all are, and reading it feels like I’m re-discovering this world, but that I’m in it this time. I’m in the story, I’m with Harry, it feels more real this time, more exciting.
I found the story and the plot pace good too. Harry has a lot to deal with and process, and by having the Philosopher’s Stone as his first ‘quest’ works really well. The clues are dotted about in the book, and he is such an observant character that it slots into place. There wasn’t too much danger or intense suspense, but there was enough mystery and wonder to make me feel creeped out. Especially the scenes in the Forbidden Forest, where the hooded figure is drinking unicorn blood. That was seriously weird to experience, and I loved it.
“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”
Ron is also a top character, and I love him and Harry’s friendship. Neville is also brilliant and I hope he continues being a prominent character in the books to come. Dumbledore wasn’t in it as much as I thought he would be, but when he is I find myself reading closer, more carefully. His words are all inspiring, and I want more of him!
I love the Weasley family, and I’m rooting for Harry every time he comes up against Draco.
Going into the next books, I want more magic, more Dumbledore, more Neville and just more of that feeling that I’m part of the Harry Potter world, that I’m experiencing Hogwarts for the first time too.
There are also bits of the plot that I can’t remember from the films, that I’m genuinely curious about, so I can’t wait to find more things out, and continue being immersed in this magical world.
Link to the book on Goodreads: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone