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I got into Harry Potter sometime in 1999.  When my little sister [livejournal.com profile] celebros  started reading them, I mocked her -- not entirely sure why, except that I was a big brother and I hated the look of the cover art on Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets.  But something about Prisoner of Azkaban was more interesting to me.  I’m not sure what.

I just know that by the time the next two books came out, [livejournal.com profile] celebros  & I had to read alternate chapters of the hardcover, because we couldn’t wait the few hours until the other one was done.

I was already involved in internet fandoms -- Star Wars and Ronin Warriors -- and Harry Potter rapidly took over my waking hours and my online time as well. FictionAlley and its forums (and FAPchat, the official chatroom for the forums) became like a home to me.  It was the only place I could be surrounded in geeks my own age (Star Wars nerds were mostly older than me).  Harry Potter is the first series that ever truly gave me a sense of community -- the first time I ever felt like I was a citizen, a part of a genuine in-group.

The biggest thing it did to change my life, however, was a little more obvious.  When I got involved with a Harry Potter-based RP on livejournal, I met a group of people who would continue to be some of my best friends through and beyond college -- most of you, oh my friendslist, even today, are people I met through HP fandom.  And of course, there’s [livejournal.com profile] handgun , the first person I ever fell head-over-heels in love with, and who I got engaged to not once but twice.  For that matter, while I already knew [livejournal.com profile] lesyeuxouverts , my second fiance, it was through the same Harry Potter RP that I reconnected with and fell for her.

Harry Potter and RPGs have pretty much defined my adult social life.  And that’s not really an accident.  Both are full of ideas and full of loose ends, perfect for encouraging imagination, discussion, interaction -- maybe not the best fantasy stories out there, but among the best to geek out about.

So when I say that, despite the many inconsistencies, flaws, and suchlike that I intend to pick on for the next few months, I love these books, and they are part of me... that’s what I mean.  I could trace in more detail how the people I met because of Harry Potter have shaped my life, but I think most of you who are still reading me know, because the majority of my readership has watched it happen -- you are those people.

Thanks, guys.

Later this week I’ll tackle Sorcerer’s Stone for the second time, and Chamber of Secrets for the first re-read.  Then we’ll really get into it.
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So, my sister-in-law, [livejournal.com profile] dragon_of_doom , alerted me that there's a Harry Potter Readalong going on from September through December, and I thought that I'd take part.  You know, in a methodical, organized fashion so typical of my endeavors. 

This last weekend I read both Sorcerer's Stone and Deathly Hallows, sometimes both in the same sitting, alternating chapters.  Oops.

A four-month readalong is a strange thing for me, given that I can read even the weightier volumes in the series in six hours and that, being unemployed, I have time enough to do so.  So I think what I want to do as I re-read the series (probably about once a month or so?) is take a variety of different looks at it.  One of the things I noticed during my simul-read this weekend is just how many shout-outs or callbacks to Sorcerer's Stone are in Deathly Hallows.  The two books are tied very closely together -- perhaps moreso than any two successive volumes in the series.

As I go back and readthrough again, I think I'm going to begin by looking at three things:

1) Untold stories I want to hear.  There are a lot of them, ranging from worldbuilding I'm curious about to characters I'd love to see more of, to off-stage events which appear just as compelling as what's foregrounded.  Many or even most of these will have fanfic written for them, of course, and if I call out something like that and you've read the fic, please link me!

Alternately, perhaps you and I, oh fiendslist, will be inspired to write more fuic.  Whichever.

2) Hidden connections.  Gringotts in SS as foreshadowing for Gringotts in DH is perhaps the most obvious example, but I want to strip this series down to the skeleton, and see how neat all that substructure looks.  What was obviously pasted on late in the game?  What seems clearly foreordained since the beginning?  What linkages, themes, resonances, and what have you stand out?

3) Worldbuilding and its ramifications.  JKR is not known for stunning consistency in this area, especially where math is concerned, but all the most fascinating fannish essays I have seen are ones which extrapolate the unseen parts of the Wizarding World from the parts we do see, and then explain how they might work in a fashion which is canonically consistent.  I'll write some of thee essays myself, or link to the more definitive ones I have read when they seem relevant.

I'll probably do no more than one or two posts a week on the issue, but Harry Potter has been such a big part of my life for so long, I'm sure it can keep me busy.

That'll be the first essay, sometime later: Harry Potter and me.

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