Nothing quite compares to a quiet afternoon, curling up with a good book, and getting lost in another world. The feeling of the fresh pages waiting to be revealed in your mind, the smell of the paper enticing you, and sight of black characters strategically placed on the page daring you to take the plunge.
However, I also find it refreshing to reopen my mind to books I have previously read. Every time I decide to re-enter the life of a story previously unhinged, I realize my perceptions of life have changed; therefore, my perceptions of the book have changed.
This summer I decided to re-read the Harry Potter series. A staple of my childhood, Harry Potter has always been one of my favorites. I have read them in elementary school, middle school, and high school. Now, I wanted to read them in college.
I know, I know. I am a nerd.
Yet, I cannot help but push my worries about how others may perceive me aside and let my desires take control. I took the plunge and read the series. I realize now that Harry Potter made me learn to love reading, Harry Potter made me crave adventure and Harry Potter taught me life-long lessons. Even a college student, I cannot help but take away important lessons from the series, lessons I decided to share.
Ten Lessons I learned from Reading Harry Potter in College
- The bravest thing you can do is love.
All throughout the series, Harry discovers the truth about the power of love. However, loving is not easy. Love means pain over the loss of a loved one. Love means sacrifice to save a loved one. Love also means the fear of harm falling on a loved one. Many who loved Harry died to protect him, and countless times Harry risked his life to save those he loved as well. It is easier to become calloused, like Lord Voldemort, and close the heart to love because then you have nothing to lose. However, Harry, a true Gryffindor, chose to love and sacrifice himself for those he loved.
- Good friends are more valuable than any amount of money.
Harry has amazing friends. Ron and Hermione may bicker, but they stick with Harry through everything. Whether it is the dangerous adventures, the risk of detention, Harry’s brutal anger, or a quest with no direction they stick with him through everything. In the end, these friends help him defeat Voldemort for good, an accomplishment worth more than endless amounts of gold.
- Those you love never truly leave you, even after they die.
Yes, magic has a way of bringing them back. The resurrection stone, for example, brought Harry’s family back to be with him when he died. However, even without magic we all have the memories of those whom we loved tucked away in our hearts and in our minds. As long as they are there, their spirit is never truly gone. As Sirius Black so wisely says, “The ones that love us never really leave us. You can always find them… in here [heart].”
- Don’t strive to obtain powerful friends.
I learned this lesson in the very first book. Sitting on the Hogwarts Express, Harry had the opportunity to ditch the frumpled red-head with dirt on his nose and befriend the slick, cool blonde who had wealth and power. However, Harry didn’t care about power. He valued character. Take a second and imagine how different the whole series would have been if Harry shook Draco’s hand on the train. Actually, there probably wouldn’t have been a series at all.
- Cherish every moment because at any moment it all could change.
Although we don’t live in a world with a dictating wizard who seeks death and destruction, we still live in an ever-changing world, a world with war, a world with death, and a world with surprises. Anything could happen at a moments notice. Therefore, don’t take loved ones for granted. Always make sure to say “I love you.” And don’t hesitate to go out of the way for someone you love. Percy, in the seventh book, realized this almost too late. He returned and fought alongside Fred like true brothers. Unfortunately, with the death of Fred came a deep sadness for Percy. His sadness was dug further when he realized he wasted the past two years not speaking to him and only made up moments before. However, he was granted the opportunity to tell Fred he loved him one last time before Fred died.
- It is okay to be angry. Anger and pain show that you care.
I learned this lesson from Dumbledore. After Sirius’s death Harry has incredible rage and anger toward Dumbledore. However, Dumbledore does not try to stop Harry from becoming angry. Instead he says, “Harry, suffering like this proves you are still a man! This pain is part of being human … the fact that you can feel pain like this is your greatest strength.”
- You don’t need to know all the answers.
In fact, sometimes it’s better if you don’t. Throughout the entire series, but especially in the seventh book, Harry had no idea that in the end he must die to save everyone. If he had known that, he probably would not have sacrificed himself. Also, if he had not gone through all the trials and tribulations he would not have developed the character he did, he would not have built the friendships he built, and he would not have learned the lessons he learned.
- Be careful how you treat others, you never know how it could impact their life and eventually yours.
This shows up in several instances; first and foremost, the house elves. Had the Malfoys been nicer to Dobby in The Chamber of Secrets Dobby would not have run to warn Harry. Similarly, if Sirius had been nicer to Kreacher in The Order of the Phoenix, Kreacher would not have helped take part in Sirius’s death. Finally, if someone in Tom Riddle’s early childhood had shown him love, if his mother had kept him or if his father didn’t abandon them, then maybe he would not have turned out to be so evil and full of hate.
- Don’t judge someone right off the bat, they may end up surprising you in the end.
The stories are full of character shifts, seemingly bad guys actually being good and good guys turning bad. Sirius is a great example. However, Snape is the prime example. It isn’t until the end of the series that the reader finds out Snape is actually a good guy. Yes he was unfair to Harry, he hated Harry’s father and took every opportunity to give Harry detention. Yet, in the end Snape did everything in his power to keep Harry alive and to defeat Lord Voldemort.
10. In the end, Love conquers all.
The greatest thing we can learn to do is Love. This lesson has been taught throughout the centuries. I first learned it in the Bible. Jesus tells us to love, God shows examples of love, and Christ’s ultimate sacrifice was fueled by love. Love is often overshadowed in today’s society. However, J.K. Rowling brings love to life for children to read and experience. It is the presence and impact of love in Harry Potter that makes me want to read it over and over. It isn’t a flimsy, cheesy relationshipy love. But rather, this love is pure, this love can be shown to anyone, and this love can be applied in our every day lives. At the end of the day, love is our most powerful weapon.