Like many other people in this world, I love fall. The colors, the smells…it’s all so beautiful and wonderful and such a nice change from summer. If you live in certain parts of the country, fall is usually when you switch out your t-shirts for sweatshirts, your swimsuits for parkas, your flip-flops for boots. And if you’re me, fall is usually when I switch out my young adult books for Harry Potter.
I read the Harry Potter books once a year – more specifically, every fall. It’s like every time September 1st rolls around (it is, of course, the day the Hogwarts Express leaves for Hogwarts), I get the urge to read Harry Potter. I’ve stated before how during the fall I tend to resort to what I call “comfort reading“, and reading Harry Potter is the ultimate comfort read for me. And then once the holidays are over, the urge disappears and I usually go back to reading my normal young adult fare, not picking up another Harry Potter book until next fall.
This year, however, I’m going things slightly different. Because I’ve read my books so many times, a little bit of wear is starting to show. I even think a couple of pages in my hardback copy of Prisoner of Azkaban are coming loose. THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. These books are prized possessions of mine, and I’ll be damned if they ever get ruined! So this year I decided to check the books out from the library. I figure since I have no attachment to these particular books, I don’t have to be uber careful with them the way I am with my own.
Last week I checked out the first two, Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets. It was a bit weird opening an unknown copy – you know when you’ve read a certain book so many times that you’ve memorized everything about that copy. The edition of Sorcerer’s Stone I checked out was the 10th Anniversary edition from 2008, and I noticed right away that the lines were slightly closer together than my first edition copy I have, it didn’t smell the same, and it just felt different in my hands.
I know all this may sound weird to some people. It’s just a book, right? It’s not like the words are any different, or the story has changed. But one of the reasons why I love reading these books every year is for the experience of reading them. They’re my favorite books in the world, and I’ve come to treasure every little thing about them.
But once I got past the whole “this book doesn’t feel like mine” issue, everything was cool. I’m about halfway through Chamber of Secrets, and it doesn’t even faze me that I’m holding a library copy that hundreds of other people have held before me. Rather now I’m thinking that the last person who held this book could have been reading it for the very first time. What did they think of it? Did they love it? Will it mean as much to them as it did – and still does – to me? Will they go on to read the whole series?
Tonight I head to the library to pick up Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire if it’s there, and although it’ll still feel a little weird checking out books that I already own (seriously, I feel like I have to defend myself to the librarian), I’ll know that at least my cherished copies are safe atop my bookshelves, simply looking pretty.