20 Years of Harry Potter: Goodreads Members on the Magic of J.K. Rowling's Books

We were all Muggles once. Before Harry, before Hogwarts, before Quidditch and Sorting Hats, our lives were all a little less magical. That changed on July 26, 1997, when J.K. Rowling published her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (published a year later in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).

Two decades into the boy wizard’s reign, Rowling’s books have spawned blockbuster movies, theme parks, stage productions, and a powerful legacy that rivals those of far older classics.

“Will kids (and adults, as well) still be wild about Harry a hundred years from now, or two hundred?” Stephen King wrote in his review of the fifth book in the series. “My best guess is that he will indeed stand time’s test, and wind up on a shelf where only the best are kept; I think Harry will take his place with Alice, Huck, Frodo, and Dorothy, and this is one series not just for the decade, but for the ages.”

To mark the 20th anniversary of Philosopher’s Stone‘s publication, we asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter to tell us how the series has impacted their life. Check out some of our favorite stories below and then share yours in the comments!

1. “It brought my mother, myself, and my children closer. Three generations fighting over who would get to read the next book first.” -Nauina

2. “It ignited my love of reading. I essentially grew up with Harry. I will be forever grateful for its influence on my life. Always.” -Andrea

3. “It was the first book I read in English! It taught me the language.” -Lilly

4. “When I was in middle school, I was bullied. In my mind, I went to Hogwarts every single day to escape my own torment. Thank you, J.K. Rowling! Thank you Harry, Ron, and Hermione.” -Taryn

5. “I met my best friend through reading Harry Potter, and she’s now my bridesmaid. Our friendship will be 18 years old.” -Erin

6. “I’m an old lady with an old kid and didn’t read my first Harry Potter book until last September. Prior to that I used to wonder what there was in the way of current entertainment that could compare with what I had—shows like Howdy Doody and Westerns. Now I know that with Harry, this generation got something far better. It’s some serious magic.” -Judy

7. “My Dad still calls me Hermoine! It’s nice to share the love of the books with my family.” -Sally

8. “I had turned away from reading. J.K. Rowling brought me back…and she brought me back stronger and better than I ever thought possible. Thank you, J.K. Rowling. Thank you.” -Natalie

9. “When my oldest was about ten, he asked if there would still be Harry Potter books when he grew up. I said, ‘Of course, books are forever. Why?’ His answer: ‘I just wanted to make sure I can read them to my kids someday.’ -Stephanie

10. “I want to be a writer because of Harry Potter! Because when I read those books, I experienced a feeling of incomparable love and warmth.” -Gashugi

11. “It kickstarted my obsession with fantasy and science fiction—and it helped me overcome my depression.” -Nitasha

12. “OMG! Where do I begin? A coworker introduced me to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I read the entire book in one day and was hooked from that moment on. I’ve gone to all of the midnight book and movie releases. I reread the series so many times I’ve lost count. No words could adequately explain my love for these books.” -Shanda

13. “It’s been the best friend that’s never abandoned me!” -Phoenix

14. “It gave me a happy and safe space I can always turn to no matter what.” -Jelke

15. “I always pick up Harry Potter books when I need to be reminded that hope perseveres even in the darkest times. Thank you for the magic, J.K. Rowling!” -Desiree

16. “It shaped my politics. As a young reader navigating the world, the books helped me better understand the moral consequences of our actions!” -Rachit

17. “I have dyslexia and ADHD. In middle school, I was reading at a second grade level. I had this friend who was a big reader, and she would tell me about the world inside those books. I was so mesmerized by it. But I got tired of being told about it and wanted to see it for myself. So I went and got Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I read and reread that book so many times until the words started to make sense. I started trying to read everything. In the seventh grade, I went from a second grade reading level to an eighth grade level in one semester. It was all because of my friend…and because of Harry Potter. I’m such a huge reader now. I don’t know who I’d be if I’d never found those books. A me who can’t read—it’s a scary thought. I owe it all to that series. It sounds dumb but it really was like finding a home.” -Rebecca

18. “I found my fandom and my people! And we’re cool now. When I was younger, I would’ve been ridiculed for being so bookish and nerdy.” -Bri

19. “I was 11 when I read them for the first time. It seems so long ago. Those stories kept me afloat when everyone else in my life was trying to drown me. I just wish I could read them for the first time all over again.” -Shivani

20. “Hogwarts is my home, and I’m still waiting for my letter.” -Dounia

How has Harry Potter affected your life? Share your story with us in the comments!

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7 Great Books Hitting Shelves This Week

Need another excuse to go to the bookstore this week? We’ve got seven! Bulk up your Want to Read shelf with these brand-new standalone titles.

The Silent Corner
by Dean Koontz

You should read this book if you like: Thrillers, vengeful widows, deadly conspiracies, fugitives, not being deterred by murderous enemies

Check out the interview with Koontz here.

Two Roads from Here
by Teddy Steinkellner

You should read this book if you like: YA fiction, high school seniors, getting to experience two potential outcomes of a life-altering decision

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
by Theodora Goss

You should read this book if you like: Fantasy, mad scientists and feral children, London murder mysteries, classic literary monsters, adventure

Another Kind of Madness
A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness

by Stephen P. Henshaw

You should read this book if you like: Memoirs, poignant family narratives, inspiration and hope, debunking the stigma behind mental illness

Tycoon
by Katy Evans

You should read this book if you like: Romance, ruthless businessmen who are also hot and wealthy, second-chance love stories, startups

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting
by Joe Ballarini

You should read this book if you like: Middle-grade fantasy, secret societies, monsters that really do live under beds, butt-kicking babysitters

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud:
The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman

by Anne Helen Petersen

You should read this book if you like: Nonfiction, pop culture analysis and gossip, examining why society loves to love (and loathe) non-conforming women

BONUS: The wait is over—check out three of the buzziest sequels coming out today!

Black and Green
by C.L. Stone

The eleventh book in The Ghost Bird YA contemporary series
(Start off the series with Introductions)

Trap the Devil
by Ben Coes

The seventh book in the Dewey Andreas thriller series
(Start off the series with Power Down)

Salvaged
by Jay Crownover

The fourth book in the Saints of Denver romance books
(Start off the series with Built)

What are you reading this week? Let’s talk books in the comments!

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