In my first eighteen years of life, I managed to avoid all things “Harry Potter.”

I tried reading the books in second grade when someone gave me the first four, but after my dad and I read the first chapter together, we deemed them uninteresting. In fourth grade, I sold those same first four books in a class mini-mall for $40 of fake money — I didn’t even think twice about giving them away.

As I got older, I never once regretted my decision. Whenever my friends talked about the books or movies, I would simply stop listening just in case I one day decided to give the books another try. I live by a strict “no watching the movies until after reading the books” policy, so I never watched the movies either.

In December 2015, I sat in my small journalism class listening to every single person in the room discuss “Harry Potter” and Miami’s Quidditch team. I knew the gist of the story, but I didn’t know the rules of Quidditch, so I began asking questions. My friends in the class were appalled when they discovered I had never even read the first book; even my professor was shocked. How could I have possibly gone so long without reading the most popular series in the world?

My professor approached me at the end of class and explained why he liked the books so much, and how he thought I should give them one more try. I, admittedly, was hesitant because my life seemed just fine without having read or watched “Harry Potter.”

But when I got back to my dorm, I called my parents. My birthday was in four days, and I had an idea for one more present: the first “Harry Potter” book.

“Those books are for children, Audrey,” my dad said, laughing at my request.

However, on the first day of my nineteenth year, my parents gave in and bought me a “children’s” book. I read The Sorcerer’s Stone in a day. I was hooked. I needed more, and I needed it now.

A self-described nerd, my family shouldn’t have been surprised when I added a few new books to my Christmas list. My dad criticized my choices, as expected. Instead of my usual historical fiction selections, I wanted the next three “Harry Potter” books. I even convinced my mom to let me buy The Chamber of Secrets on my first day home for break but was forced to wait until Christmas to read the next two.

Luckily, ABC Family held their yearly “Harry Potter” marathon before Christmas, and I was finally willing to watch the movies. I recorded them all, so I could watch each one as I finished the books.

I’m only on “Order of the Phoenix,” but I’m emotionally connected to the characters and very determined to finish the series. In fact, (spoiler alert) when someone told me that Sirius Black eventually dies, I had a not-so minor meltdown. I wasn’t prepared. That was when I realized just how much these books now mean to me.

I don’t regret my decision to wait so long to read the books. In fact, I think I have a much greater appreciation for them. I avoided (almost) every single spoiler, so I’m able to experience so many different emotions as I go along.

If you think you missed your chance to read “Harry Potter” in your childhood days, you are wrong. Take my advice and just get past the first chapter of the first book. JK Rowling, in my opinion, takes a very long time to introduce the story in each book, but once you get past that, it becomes an amazing experience that makes you wish you were a student at Hogwarts.
Reading “Harry Potter” at 19 years old was most definitely worth the wait.

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