Submerged in fiction this fall

“You haven’t read Harry Potter? You have to!” I’ve heard those words countless times over the years, but I never thought I would be the one to say them.

Last year, as a fresh transfer to Tabor, my friends immediately introduced me to the Star Wars world and I was hooked.

Then during the spring, my roommate read the Harry Potter books, and I got sucked into watching the movies with her. To be completely honest though, I didn’t pay much attention to the first two, either doing homework or playing games on my phone while we watched.

But then the third movie, “Prisoner of Azkaban,” caught my eye. I became engrossed in the characters and the story. I found myself thinking about the movie long after the credits had rolled.

After the fourth movie, I decided I wanted to explore J.K. Rowling’s magical world for myself before we kept on watching. So in May, I picked up a copy of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

It took me all summer to finish the first four books of the seven-book series, as I tried to fit as much reading as I could into my busy summer in Nashville.

Once school started, I flew through the last three novels in only a few a weeks. This was partly because I decided to write my senior seminar essay over the series and I needed to finish the story as soon as possible.

But it also was due to the way the story captivated me and begged me to read during every possible waking moment. Luckily, I didn’t have a lot of homework during the beginning of the semester and was able to spend all of my free time reading. I read in the cafeteria. I read until the second my professors began class. I stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning to read.

I also bought a cardboard cutout of Ron Weasley, but that’s beside the point.

I cried a lot, too. If you’ve read the series, you know that it just rips your heart out at certain points. Somehow, I managed to be in public places during all of the heart-wrenching death scenes.

When I finished the final page of the last book, I felt like the world stopped turning and it took me some time to recover and to return to social life.

Now that I’m a few months removed from my introduction to Harry Potter and have drowned myself in research about the series for my senior seminar, I’m even more in awe of the story Rowling weaved together.

And I’m obviously not the only reader who feels this way. In my research, I’ve found incredible statistics about the popularity of the Harry Potter series. For instance, the series has 450 million copies in print. To put that number in perspective, “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, which also has seven books, has only 100 million copies in print.

Since reading her books, I have referred to Rowling as a genius many times.

This semester, I’m taking a creative writing class that has reignited my love for writing fiction. The class has also given me more respect for Rowling’s incredible ability to create intricate plots and compelling characters.

I recently watched Rowling’s new movie, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which is not a Harry Potter movie, but takes place in Rowling’s magical world.

There is a quote in the movie that perfectly sums up my feelings about Rowling’s creativity.

When encountering the beasts in Newt Scamander’s magical suitcase for the first time, Jacob Kowalski says, “I’m not dreaming.” Newt replies, “What gave it away?” Jacob’s answer is spot on: “I ain’t got the brains to make this up.”

But J.K. Rowling sure does.

This Thanksgiving, while I’m thankful for so many other things, I’m thankful that my friends introduced me to Rowling’s creative genius.

Bailey Kaufman, a Hills­boro native, is editor of the Tabor College student newspaper this year.