Contrary to popular belief, not every '90s kid grew up reading Harry Potter. While my friends pored over each book in J.K. Rowling's mega-popular series, I was just meh about the whole thing. I did see the films, so I knew the basic story line, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. I was a bona fide Muggle, and I was OK with it.
But with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child's script-in-book-form dropping July 31, I felt like it was time to just read the damn series so everyone would stop telling me to. I'll be honest, I really did not want to like it. When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone came out in 1997, my mom and I read the first chapter, and I thought it was boring (Sorry, Jo!). But over this past month, I was surprised to discover that I thoroughly enjoy Harry Potter.
The movies are watered-down versions of the books.
All right, let's get this out of the way first. I mean no disrespect to the cast and crew of the eight films, because they were all super well done. BUT, after reading all 4,224 pages in the books, way too many details were left out. To be honest, I'm surprised I was able to follow everything in the movies so well as a kid, since there was a ton missing. Like with most book-to-film adaptations, the original source material is just stronger and more detailed, simply because it can be. A book can be as long as an author pleases, while a movie really shouldn't be three or more hours long. (*cough* Quentin Tarantino *cough*)
Apparently, Hogwarts students actually did have homework.
I never got that vibe from the films, and was admittedly jealous that Harry, Ron, and Hermione went to fun "magic" school while I had to go to regular school and do homework. But in the books, there are chapters upon chapters about all the studying and coursework the kids had to do on a daily basis. Ron's quote above is the only reference to tests I remember from the films, but Order of the Phoenix devotes a major chunk to O.W.L. preparations.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione were pissed at each other all the damn time.
Holy crap, you guyssss. It felt like every three chapters, someone wasn't speaking to someone else. Sure, they're the three best friends that anybody could have, but jeez. I don't remember getting in that many fights with my BFFs growing up.
Dean Thomas had a bigger presence in the books...
Confession: I forgot Dean was even a character until How to Get Away with Murder first premiered and the internet freaked out at how hot Alfred Enoch got. He's still a minor character in the books, but I felt like we got to know more of his personality — and more of him in general — than we did in the films.
...which made me totally start shipping Dean and Seamus Finnigan.
I never thought of them as a thing from the movies alone, but seeing them get more action (pun unintended) in the books sparked a ship I'd overlooked. After a quick Tumblr search, I can see I'm definitely not alone.
There's a lot of fat-shaming happening.
Early on in the series, Harry's cousin Dudley Dursley was described as having "a large, pink face, not much neck, small, watery blue eyes and thick, blond hair that lay smoothly on his thick, fat head ... Harry often said that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig." I also remember a quote or two about how many chins he had and his fat bottom. Vernon and Petunia got the same treatment — and naturally, they're despicable characters. It all felt a little over the top and kinda mean, TBH.
That Dumbledore meme from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire I've seen on Tumblr finally makes sense.
Michael Gambon, chill TF out, bro. The book said "calmly," not "frantic and crazed like a man with diarrhea who can't find a toilet."
Dobby isn't actually awful.
I wasn't a big fan of the house elf in the movies because he just seemed to pop up and cause problems at the absolute worst times. He's 100 times more helpful in the books, what with getting Harry the gillyweed for the Triwizard Tournament and telling Dumbledore's Army about the Room of Requirement.
Other things besides Snape killing Dumbledore actually happened in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
This became one of my favorite books of the series, but literally all I remember from the movie is baby Voldemort being played by Ralph Fiennes's nephew and Snape killing Dumbledore. (I, ahem, fell asleep during the movie's midnight premiere, and went in and out of consciousness during the Avada Kedavra business.)