April 8, 2018
“Knowledge is a gift. Knowledge is access, discovery, reflection, and most of all, a form of courage to face the truth in others and in ourselves.” – Jill Kolongowski, Life Lessons Harry Potter Taught Me
Life imitates art.
You know that saying, its been said over and over again. And one of my favourite things to do is to pull scenarios from my favourite pieces of literature and compare and contrast them to my own experiences. In Life Lessons Harry Potter Taught Me, Jill Kolongowski does just that. This collection of essays reflect back on the seven book series and in turn draws parallels from our favourite wizards. This book is thought proving, fun to read, and for any Harry Potter fan out there, it may just be a little enlightening.
I found the writing to be fast paced and never found the book to be dragging. There were moments that I immediately connected to and others in which I had to reflect back a bit more.
In the chapter: Sonorus, Kolongowski focuses on the power of words and how they can impact others. She mentions how an old English teacher had written her a letter that said, “Jill’s not a good writer, but she tries hard.” She then goes on to draw comparisons from the books between hurtful words and how the Dursleys used them against Harry etc. And while I found the book to life comparisons…illuminating, I kept thinking back to those words her teacher wrote.
As writers, we are our biggest critics and I think most of us have accepted that. And even though we sometimes welcome criticism, it still hurts and personally, knocks me down a few pegs. I have been told on multiple occasions that I am not a good writer or that I won’t amount to anything in the world of literature. I’ve dwelled on those words over and over again, but then I remember that along with the hammering words of negativity, there were some positive ones in there as well.
You would do well to remember that all words have meaning and while I am not saying you shouldn’t give someone criticism, just remember that there is a way to do it without completely discouraging them.
Another chapter I really enjoyed was Protego: On Kindness. This one really focused on the many ways you can show someone you care. It wasn’t always through words or grand gestures and I loved that. Personally, I am not the most empathetic person, it is something I struggle with, but Kolongowski took bits and pieces from the books especially when it comes to Hagrid and Molly that I could perhaps…take pointers from? If that makes any sense.
Kolongowski mentions that Molly Weasley shows her kindness by offering comfort, especially with food. Throughout the entire series, Molly can be found making sure the Order is fed or that her kids have enough food for the journey to Hogwarts. Then of course when Harry visits the Burrow for the first time, Molly makes sure he is fed and happy in her home. Kolongowski focuses on this and then connects it to how Harry used his miniscule scraps of food to feed Hedwig. I love this because Harry never learned kindness from his family, so when Molly shows him a small gesture it’s all he can think of when he wants to show kindness of his own.
I think a lot of the lessons that Jill wrote about will impact a lot of the readers. I connected with many of them and I even started to draw my own conclusions from the book series. I haven’t read Harry Potter as much as she has, but I am currently re-reading the series so who knows what else I will come up with.
Overall, I give this book 4/5 stars. I am not really one to read non-fiction, but I enjoy a memoir-type book once and while. Especially when the Chosen One is involved. If you are a fan of Harry Potter and you have made connections from the series overtime, then you should definitely check this book out. I read it in one day and it really helped me get out of my reading slump!