The Impact of Books - 20 Years of Harry Potter

I was once asked which book(s) had made an impact on my life. I sat and contemplated this for a while. Fragments of books entering my mind, words that have changed me, stories that have shaped me, hundreds of them whizzing around in my head. It was then that I realised that every book has impacted me. Every book I've ever read has changed me in some way, whether it be a monumental change or something small, books have the power to do that.

A series of books that have made the biggest impact in my life, is a series we're celebrating today: Harry Potter. Harry Potter awakens emotions in me that I didn't think possible to feel from books. I just have to read a quote from The Goblet of Fire and it will transport me back to the year I queued up at midnight outside Tesco to grab a copy on it's release date and sat up all night, devouring and savouring every page until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.

The world of Harry Potter was one that I always found comfort in. The kind of comfort that you get from lounging in your pyjamas, with a pizza and a tub of Ben and Jerry's ice cream; that's how the wizarding world makes me feel. (Although all of the above does sound good!)

It isn't just the books that changed my life, I had a thirst; a need for more. I travelled across the pond to venture into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. To see my favourite parts of the books brought to life before my eyes, it was magical but I still needed more. I travelled to London to visit the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour. To taste the sweet Butterbeer, to pose outside the Dursley's house, to hop onto the Knight Bus; to feel like an extra on a Harry Potter set was just mesmerising.

I grew up with the characters, every year they got older, I did too and as they changed from children, to teenagers, to adults, I did too. Ron taught me about friendship and appreciating what we have in life, even if it isn't a lot. Hermione taught me that being intelligent wasn't a bad thing, but something to be proud of. Harry taught me that it's okay to be different and that your differences are what make you unique. He taught me about bravery and conquering your fears, no matter what the consequence might be. Neville taught me that standing up to your enemies is brave, but standing up to your friends is even braver. Severus taught me the dangers of love and how all-consuming it can truly be. Lily and James taught me about making sacrifices for the ones you love, something we all do in life.

These characters, their stories, they shaped me into who I am today. They instilled in me some of my most important values and beliefs. This was never just a "book series" for me, it was a huge part of my childhood and is still a huge part of my life now, as an adult.

Whenever I feel down or I need a pick me up. I pick up the books, I turn on the films, I play the theme tune and smile. Hogwarts is always there to welcome me home. That's what these books make me feel: I'm home.

So to JK Rowling, may we today raise our wands in honour of you. Young and old, man or woman, your books appealed to all ages and people from all walks of life. Thank you for giving me such enthusiasm and a passion for books from such a young age. Like you have to so many others, you filled my heart with warmth and magic on the darkest of days. It all started with The Boy Who Lived and you are The Woman Who Changed the Literary World.

And to end in true Harry Potter style. Fans all around the world will be asked today and for many years to come if we still like Harry Potter:

"After all this time?" They'll ask.
"Always". We reply.

I am a Slytherin and proud. Which house were you sorted in to and did you agree?