There are a lot of things I associate with summer: the smell of sunblock, thick heat, bright colors, fresh food, swimming at the pool, and that particularly satisfying feeling of lounging around in the air conditioning after a day in the sun.
For nearly two decades, I have also, and most especially, associated midsummer with Harry Potter.
Summer is when the book releases came, still some of my happiest memories. Summer meant library events trying to draw kids into reading with the promise of magic. Summer as an only child with one working parent meant hours spent alone at that same library, where I found books about Potter and anything related to Potter: magic, herbology, mythology and even European history; where I used the public computers to browse Harry Potter fan sites, post in Harry Potter forums (the prominent and the obscure) and even voluntarily take on summer homework at “Hogwarts Online” (Yep, I was that much of a nerd). My best friend was a big fan too, and it seems like I lived at her house in the summer, watching the movies, making movies of our own, and reading fanfiction together.
I can no longer remember how I first fell in love with the Wizarding World. I loved everything about it, not only Jo’s brilliant writing but the aesthetic of the world, which holds both classic and fanciful appeal. I followed Harry from a life of forced normalcy and anxiety to a world of pumpkin juice on the breakfast table, bubbling cauldrons in the classroom, and mice in the Christmas crackers. This series- and all books about secret, magical places that teach and transform- provided an escape for me in dull and difficult times, but they also shaped me. They made me crave magic, even in the muggle world.