Melissa Stagnaro

As I gushed excitedly this morning about the upcoming release of the next-to-last installment of the Harry Potter series, more than one of my co-workers snickered.

Thankfully, they didn’t hear my muttered response. Not that they probably would have caught the thinly veiled Muggle reference anyway.

Neither of the offenders have any room to talk, as one is a Trekkie to the nth degree. (Loved the Captain Kirk costume, by the way!) The other hasn’t taken his nose out of the latest Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson novel, “Towers of Midnight,” since I took pity on him earlier this week and picked it up for him.

I would think they of all people would be able to understand the affinity I have for J.K. Rowling’s creation. The first time I entered Harry Potter’s wizarding world, I was hooked. And since that time, I have anxiously awaited each new installment, both in the bookstore and on the silver screen.

I read the first three books in the series (Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban) before they were all the rage. I hadn’t had any real desire to read them at all actually. But a book group I was in back in my Arlington, VA days (circa 1999) had selected the first installment as one of our monthly reads.

When I went online to purchase it, I found I was able to get all three in hardcover (they weren’t yet out in the US in paperback) for a paltry sum – I think $30. It was too much of a bargain to pass up.

Once I started reading, I was glad I’d jumped on it. Because I literally could not put them down. I finished all three in under 4 days. An admiral feat considering I worked full time as a market research analyst & part-time waiting tables at the time.

Then I read them again. I mean, what else was I supposed to do to bide my time while going crazy waiting for #4 – Goblet of Fire – to be released. It was excruciating. It didn’t come out until the following June, if I remember correctly, so I had something like 8 loooonnng months to wait.

Before long, of course, Harry Potter was all the rage. At least partially fueled, I’m sure, by people like me – who raved about it to everyone they met. I can’t remember how many people I lent those books to, when I could finally bear to let them out of my sight.

As the release date – or, in industry lingo, strict-on-sale date – approached, bookstores started hyping all-night events so Harry Potter fans could have their book in hand at 12:01.

It was like that for each of the successive volumes as well, and, of course, the movies. I, like so many other HP fans, anxiously awaited them all. I’ve read and re-read each book more times than I can count. Ditto the movies.

With one exception: I still haven’t seen the theatrical version of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. So this weekend I will be doing just that. As well as re-reading the seventh and final novel.

Then, and only then, will I be in the correct mental state to catch the midnight showing of part 1 of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows on Thursday at the Colonia Theater.

See you there!

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