The Marketeers Club: Harry Potter and A Reader’s Nostalgia

Tayler Lord is a publicist who is seriously considering a Harry Potter tattoo.

I haven’t read a book all summer. How? I work for a book publisher! I majored in English! My boyfriend and I don’t have enough room for all of the books we have combined in our tiny home! How have I not read a book in three months?!

It’s because every time I open a book, I think, “I’d rather be reading Harry Potter right now.” As a result, I’m pretty sure I’ve been on the same page of Emma by Jane Austen since June.

So, why don’t I just read Harry Potter? A fun fact you should know about me is that I read the entire Harry Potter series once a year. I really jumped the gun this year when I finished the series sometime in February, again. I know that I don’t have to limit myself (I’m a grown up, I can do what I want!), and I should read what I want to read. But at the same time, there are so many books in the world. We’ve published nearly eighty already this year, and we’re a moderately sized university press. So why do I keep turning to a series of books that I’ve read at least eight times?

It all boils down to nostalgia. (Probably.) I only think I’m longing for Harry Potter but really I’m nostalgic for when I was younger and reading an 800+ page book was some kind of feat. I didn’t have the tools to read critically, so I was just absorbing and enjoying the story.

In high school I still loved books but the tedium of book reports and AP papers took the fun out of reading. Then I studied English in college and my relationship with reading completely changed. I learned to love and understand books and writing more than I could have imagined possible thanks to the some incredible professors. But I hardly had any time during the school year to read books of my own choosing, and summers were spent reading books that my professors and classmates referenced that I hadn’t read. My only respite was the Annual Reading of the Harry Potter Series.

Since college, I’ve lost my way a bit with reading. There are seasons where I read a book a week, and then dry spells like this summer. I think it’s a combination of not knowing what to read (seriously, how do people decide which books are good without a professor telling them) and spending all day at work thinking and talking about books (sometimes it feels like that’s enough and I’m allowed to go home and watch five uninterrupted hours of the Great British Baking Show).

I find myself wanting to go back to the books that made me love reading, and Harry Potter is an acceptable way to do that. I also grew up reading Ramona Quimby books and A Series of Unfortunate Events—which, to be honest, probably warrant a new read from my twenty-five-year-old self—but I don’t feel like it is as acceptable to revisit those as it is Harry Potter. I mean, there are seemingly infinite Buzzfeed listicles with titles like “29 Times Tumblr made “Harry Potter” Fans Cry All Over Again” and “Here Are 100 Hilarious Harry Potter Jokes To Get You Through The Day.” Everyone else is indulging in Harry Potter nostalgia, why shouldn’t I?

Because I don’t want to lose the—forgive me—magic of Harry Potter. I never want to overdo it, I never want to become bored or unmoved by Harry Potter. I want to always be as excited by the bravery and friendship and love in these books as I was as a young reader. I want it to feel special each time I revisit the series, and that takes time, if only a year.

For now, I’ll read all the listicles and take all the “Which Harry Potter Character Are You?” quizzes as a way to assuage my longing to return to Hogwarts. Then, hopefully, I can finally finish Emma. After that, maybe I’ll pick up the copy of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi that mocks me from my bedside table. With any luck, that will lead to the new-ish Maria Semple novel that I bought last month. Then maybe I’ll spend some time with our new African Poetry Books.

And soon the seasons will change and it will be time to read Harry Potter once again.