Harry Potter and the Reading Habits of Adult Muggles

As the Harry Potter series nears its end, j of j’s scratchpad wonders how the series has changed the reading habits of adult readers. I suspect that most adults would argue that the series has made little, if any, difference in their reading habits. But, I wonder if this is truly the case.

Before Harry Potter, I, like most adults, led a boring reading life. I never stayed up past my bedtime to read one more chapter or one more page, unless I was forced to do so. I skimmed and scanned and read in fits and starts. And, when I read deeply, I focused on analyzing and critiquing the words before me. I could never imagine being seen in public with a children’s book. Instead, I spent my commute and lunch hour poring over newspapers, work-related reports, magazines, current events books, and novels that needed to be read for book group.

But, the day I picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at my public library, everything changed. Suddenly, I remembered that there were other ways to read (and other reasons for reading). I rediscovered pleasure reading and the joy of shared reading experiences. I became reacquainted with my favorite childhood books, finding comfort in the fact that the library’s children’s room was not an Eden from which I was forever banished, but a place to which I could return to whenever needed.

In almost a week’s time, the Potter phenomenon will be over. However, adult Muggles should not despair. There are other books and other imaginary worlds to explore, and there are librarians, booksellers, and other readers’ advisers eager to guide you.

And, if you would rather savor the last days of Potter-mania, than think about the post-Harry Potter future, there are many opportunities to reminisce, rejoice, and create. For example, you can wile away the days until the final book release with Matthew Reidsma and other cartoonists as they draw a different Harry Potter character each day.


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