It feels like 2007, because I’m geeking out about Harry Potter for the first time in years. Today, after completing our four-day trip, we got the chance to tour the set of the Harry Potter films, about an hour northwest of London. This was a blast from the past for me. The Harry Potter books were some of the first really long books I read as a precocious kid, and I ended up reading them either 2 or 3 times (I can’t remember which). The last time I read them, I was still in junior high I remember anxiously awaiting the publication of the seventh book in 2007–perhaps the only time I’ll ever read a 700-page book in 36 hours. Before that, I remember spending nearly a year working on the 1000-page behemoth Order of the Phoenix, finishing around the time book six came out in 2005.
When you read those books for the first time as young as I did–even if you understand what the words technically mean–you’re going to miss a lot. Even my second (and potentially third) times through the series, when I was a little older, I think I missed a lot of depth because I hadn’t really had enough social experience to understand what Harry was going through.
The movies, to me, were always secondary to the books, but I still liked them. The final film’s release in 2011 was the most recent interaction I had with the series, so I had to jog my memory before I arrived by reading about the series online. I didn’t make all the connections to England before, either.
The tour was really cool. We got to try Butterbeer (it tastes like butterscotch soda), view the sets for things like the Gryffindor Common Room and Dumbledore’s office, view the Goblet of Fire, and learn how green-scren technology was used in the films. But my favorite part of the tour came at the end, when we were ushered into a room featuring what appeared to be a shrunk-down version of Hogwarts Castle. As we learned, this was actually the model used in the making of the film. Since the producers could not actually construct a castle true to the specifications of the book, they constructed this model, and used a green screen to superimpose the film’s stars on the model.
The visit to this relic of most of our childhoods (all of us had either read the books, seen the movies, or at least knew what they were about) sparked a lot of interesting conversations. For example, I was talking to Ryan, Tiara, and Malaika after the tour about how there may never be another book series as popular as Harry Potter ever again. Books were already becoming less popular during our childhoods, but still, a good portion of us had at least some interaction with the Harry Potter books. The same as true with The Hunger Games and Twilight. But nowadays, you almost never hear of a book series with that kind of popularity. Maybe it’s just because we’re too old to know what the book series is, but maybe the rise of smartphones has delivered the final blow to the idea of popular kids’ book. Or maybe we’re just being old curmudgeons. I’m not sure. It seems like a bad sign that, as we learned in Northern Ireland, they’re trying to make Artemis Fowl into the next Harry Potter. The Artemis Fowl books came out starting in 2001; I remember reading them as a kid. In fact, there were plenty of big series when I was a kid; a favorite of mine was A Series of Unfortunate Events–which was recently remade by Netflix. The fact that they’re making books from the 2000s into TV and movies, instead of using newer source material, seems like a sign that there are no new comparable books coming forward.
While I was researching Harry Potter, I wanted to find out which house I would be sorted into. I tried a couple different quizzes, but the most detailed one, which shows you how well your answers relate to each house, was recommended by the users of Reddit. Here it is. According to the quiz, I’m a Ravenclaw.
Speaking of books, during the 4-day break, I finally finished the book that I have been infamously reading throughout this trip, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, a work of realistic fiction. It took a long time to read, but it was totally worth it. I won’t explain the whole plot here, but the book featured a lot of really interesting characters, and a very realistic and compelling look at life.