Mark over on Markreadsharrypotter just asked that very same question, and all the stories make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside about the power of books and compelling characters. PLus, I'd really like to know the stories of all my friends here, so:
How did you lot get into Hermione Granger and the Two Loveable Dunderheads?
This is how it happened for me:
In the summer of 2000, I was turning 15, had just spend five years at a grammar school where I was being bullied to the point of throwing up every morning and was about to start at a new school in the hopes of finding people who actually liked me, and I was terrified that I might find out it actually is ME, not THEM that is the problem, despite my parents telling me otherwise (Thank GOD they signed me up at the new school. Best thing to ever happen to me). I was pretty much friendless, so my formative years had been spend as an escapist bookworm. When I wasn't reading, I was miserable.
To give me a boost of confidence and a treat before the start of my new life, my parents sent me off on a 4 week language course in Florida, because I loved English (yes, I was THAT kind of kid. Still failing in school at that point, though, because I didn't dare draw attention of any kind towards me in class. The German school system places you with the exact same 20-30 kids all through 5th-10th grade. So there really wasn't any sort of escape for me. It was an all-day-long party). As we said goodbye on the airport, one of the other german kids pressed CoS in the English original onto me. I scoffed at it in the car, because I thought the blurb sounded ridiculous and the illustrations on the german covers I remembered seeing at the bookshop were ugly as sin - HP mania was just two months shy of rocking the whole world.
One friday night, I ran out of reading material (I was an insomniac, as well. I am sure my everyday life the previous 4 years had NOTHING to do with that...), so I grudgingly grabbed CoS. By saturday afternoon, I was on a bus heading downtown to see how many books this series had. Bought PoA, inhaled it. Begged my parents to give me the 32,- Mark I'd need to buy the hardcover version of GoF (which was the book I hid behind during my first week at the new school. Good thing the kids who remain some of my best friends today were kid and tenacious enough to drag me to lunch with them regardless), then circled back to PS.
I loved it and its character so much that I went online (at an Internet cafe... oh, quaint old times) to look up all available illustrations. Unsatisfied with what I saw, for the first time in my life, I picked up a pencil for drawing rather than writing. Inspired mainly by Tealin's amazing work, I became (and still am) a fanartist (I know: shocking news, isn't it?), which led to me ditching med school for art school after graduation 5 years later. This summer, I've graduated as a Graphic Designer, Illustrator and Book Artist.
So in a very big way (and millions of small ones), HP really did make me what I am today. I've embraced that fact by having my first tattoo six months ago be a quote from HP. But I'm not telling you what it is, yet, because it is a quote form a later book.
Harry Potter has been an escape for me, and it showed me a passion and later a profession I most likely would not have stumbled upon otherwise. I love those books on so many levels.
Listening to: Vampire Weekend
Reading: Eating Animals
Playing: "find the life"....
Drinking: Starbux Starbux and then some Starbux