This post is part of our series ranking the top 25 bygone products and trends we'd like to see return.
Long before I read any of the Harry Potter books, I'd heard about them; working in an English department, it was hard to avoid the excited squeals of my coworkers and students whenever a new one came out. Not wanting to join the hordes of cape-wearing man-children who seemed addicted to the boy wizard, I avoided the series as long as I could. Finally, at the end of fall semester 2001, I decided to take a break from grading. When I got to the movie theater, though, I'd seen everything that was showing, except the Harry Potter movie. Bowing to the inevitable, I decided to give it a shot.
A couple of hours later, I was hooked. I immediately went to Waldenbooks, where I bought a copy of the first book. Around 10 o'clock that night, I was done with it and was dying for the second. All the stores were closed, but I seemed to recall seeing the books at my local 7-11, so I ran over and found book two, The Chamber of Secrets. Somewhere around 7:00 a.m. the next day, bleary-eyed, I returned to the convenience store to pick up The Prisoner of Azkaban. A day or two later, my girlfriend loaned me the latest book, which had yet to come out in paperback. As with all the rest, I burned through The Goblet of Fire. Then the waiting began.
Over the subsequent six years, I've spent a lot of time waiting for J.K. Rowling. I've waited for books to come out and movies to be released. I've waited to see who was cast as Voldemort and who was cast as Sirius Black. I've waited for relationships to develop, conclusions to arrive, and plot points to resolve. In the meantime, my girlfriend became my wife, and we have spent way too much time on geeky debates about the series. When the fifth and six books came out, we each bought a copy because neither of us wanted to wait for the other to finish. When the seventh book arrived, we were strapped for cash, so we only got one copy. She read it first, but was polite enough to burn through it. I helped by keeping the kid out of her way.