Nobody here needs to read my case for Harry Potter. We know how important Harry Potter is and how much we freaked at the Fantastic Beasts trailer. We know the lesson “It’s not who you’re not, it’s who you choose to be” is one we can embrace and remember in moments of darkness or emotional woe. We know the Snape and Lily storyline could make us all cry right here, right now if we chose to talk about it, and we know Dumbledore didn’t do a particularly wonderful job handling the “Harry is a horcrux” situation.
But maybe you don’t know why, after age 30, you should pick up Harry Potter and read it again. And if you’re one of those people, breathe easy and bask in the knowledge that you should.
Behold! Five reasons to pick up and re-embrace Harry Potter after 30. Both the book and the person, the choice is yours.
1. Hermione’s work ethic is next level. Do you know who works harder than Hermione Granger? No one. Not a single person. If not for Hermione, Voldemort would’ve just kept hanging out behind Professor Quirrel’s head and thrived right then and there, ending the series in a book and a half, max.
But Hermione’s smarts prevented that from happening. In fact, Hermione ensured the survival of her friends, her classmates, her teachers and the actual world by thinking quickly, being prepared and putting her work first and foremost. She reads, she writes, she educates herself on the dark arts and defense and on spells and elf rights — and then, when Harry and Ron want to give up, she doesn’t let them. If she lived in the muggle world, Hermione would be that one girl you know whose productivity you aren’t able to believe. “How does a person work this much?” you would ask, likely frustrated. But, fret not: Because she is fictional, you can be your own Hermione. And that starts with reading about the JK Rowling version whose capacity for hard work is something you’ll aspire to.
2. Snape’s complexities. Younger versions of ourselves didn’t get the majesty of the Snape and Lily dynamic, aside from knowing that Snape loved her and protected Harry because he was indebted to her memory and also to Dumbledore. But, as adults, we can finally understand exactly how tragic Snape’s narrative really is: Not only does he know Harry must die, he’s stuck staring into the youthful face of his nemesis and dead best friend, forced to protect this kid the love of his life had with another man. (Like, that is cruel, Dumbledore).
Plus, Snape ends up becoming the guy who grows up to teach at the high school he hated. (And doesn’t even get the job he wants). After living the Death Eater life (which deserves a story in and of itself), Severus returns to Hogwarts and begins a path that ends in his death. And he can’t even explain to Harry — he just has to cry into a small jar, hoping Harry doesn’t get killed before making it to the pensieve. So step aside, Shakespeare, because we’ve got ourselves a real tragedy.
3. The Deathly Hallows. I was in my early twenties upon the release of book seven, and I wish I cared more about the Deathly Hallows, because I certainly did not upon first read. But now? Now? Now, the Deathly Hallows are actually one of the most beautiful metaphors for life. You can’t outrun death, you can’t outsmart it, and you can’t trick it — you just have to live, and pray it only shows up to welcome you as an old friend.
See? That’s some dark material, right there. Which explains why some of us (hello!) weren’t so quick to bask in the tale when we’re barely able to navigate the specifics of Ron and Hermione. But now, there’s nothing left to do but nod and acknowledge: The story is beautiful and super applicable to actual life, making it both tragic and a reason I might get my first tattoo at age 30, who knows.
4. Harry and Ginny’s lack of chemistry. See, I want us all to go back and revisit this as adults, because I can’t with this union. Not only did they have zero to negative chemistry in the books, the actors somehow managed to have even less. How? How was this possible? And furthermore, are we comfortable with the idea of Ron and Hermione lasting forever and ever? Is Harry Potter actually just a cautionary tale of being careful about who you end up with, because while all the characters are great, they certainly don’t venture outside the walls of Hogwarts in a romantic sense of the word? Is that the big story to sum up the bigger story? Did everyone not seem kind of miserable at the train station? Did Harry even love Ginny, or was this a relationship of convenience? I have one million questions, because I have seen successful high school relationships-turned-marriages and also the opposite. And I need to read into Ginny and Harry because I am compelled to categorize the two.
5. We might be Death Eaters. Hear me out: Upon reading HP for the first time, I was convinced I was a Gryffindor/hero through and through, and that even the most interesting Death Eaters (hi, Bellatrix!) wouldn’t con me into joining their ranks. And I’m not saying that they would, but I am saying that as a grown-ass woman, you can see how, say, Narcissa might get trapped, or how Draco got (briefly) wooed. Frankly, the more you read — and the older you read — the less black and white tends to exist. Especially when you think about how Sirius started calling Harry “James” (making me think he may not have had Harry’s best interests in mind — I’m sorry, but it’s true), or how Wormtail was weakness personified and obviously represented the type of people who just… go along.
So what I’m saying is this: While none of us here would obviously join Voldemort (duh), you can start to see how people would. Especially since Slytherin got such a bad name for not doing very much at all. Remember the last book? When they’re sent to the dungeons just so they could send Harry out to Voldemort and spare the school? Call me 30, but that wasn’t a fair play.
(And not just because I was sorted into Slytherin until recently).
Have you given Harry Potter a re-read as an adult? Tell us about everything you’ve noticed @BritandCo!
(Photo via Warner Bros)