... always there to welcome you home

Hands up, who is having a bit of a miserable winter? I’m suffering with a bit of mild SAD from this lingering, not-sure what-it’s-doing British winter and I’m not the only one. It seems like most people I know, in one way or another, is feeling the winter blues at the moment.

So as always, my solution is books; I plan to hibernate and read as much as possible till Spring. I’ve just finished re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird after the spectacular news of Lee’s long awaited sequel coming out later in the year. I read it for the first time when I was 14 so I don’t remember much about it, and I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have gotten half as much out of it as I did this time round. So I’m now all caught up and ready for Go Set a Watchman to come out in July. A perfectly valid reason to re-read most would say.

But what about those books that you keep going back to, again and again? Your old favourites that you’ve read so much you could probably recite whole passages from memory, which is helpful because those particular pages of your copy are falling out. As you know, I am all for re-reading books a few years on, at a different stage of your life, to see what else you can get from it. All the best books hold up, even fare better, from two or three readings. But what’s the reason for reading a book once a year, or even more? You can’t get that much out of it surely?

That’s what I found myself asking as I was pulling my copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone from the bookcase one evening this week. I wasn’t hoping to gain any new perspective to the Harry Potter series, nothing I wouldn’t have already picked up from the countless re-reads of the series I’ve done in the past nor the hours I’ve spent on Mugglenet or Pottermore (yes, I’m a Potterhead, I’m surprised this hasn’t come up before now - seriously). There was no reason other than I wanted to feel comforted and secure, and needed something easy and familiar. So I read it in bed with a hot water bottle and giggled away at the differences between the American and British versions (I have both - plus a French version) and was able to get up the next day feeling slightly more resilient than I had the morning before. And I don’t apologise for this being my nth re-reading, or feel guilty that I could have been reading something more ‘substantial’ in this time. To me, at the end of a bad day, Hogwarts is a wonderful place to go.

I will at some point write about why so many people seem to turn to the Harry Potter series during hard times; it’s something I’ve noticed regularly in the fandom. But I think for now we all needed a reminder of how comforting books can be in general. I hope everyone turns to their well-read favourites during these seemingly never-ending dark evenings and get that same glow as I did.

JK Rowling quote

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