I have books that I immensely enjoyed, and am in continuing awe of the skill of their authors. I have books that fall into only one of those two categories (I appreciate how well done they are, or I loved reading them). I have books that I think everyone should read because everyone will love them. I have books that I appreciate because of what they have to say about society. And so on.

This is why the question of “favorite” books is so difficult for me. I tend to mix it up, with books that I appreciate for different reasons. Today, I want to talk about another category: books that are personally, emotionally important to me for some reason or another. There are numerous books here, but today I want to talk about what I would say are, hands down, the most important books to me. And that would be the Harry Potter series.

It might sound silly, but these books have been with me since I was a small child. Whenever my gaze happens to fall on the bit of my bookshelves that holds the seven volumes (plus Quidditch Through The Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them), I am enormously sad that there will be no more (The Tales of Beedle The Bard‘s upcoming release does a bit to relieve that, though), but still happy in a nostalgic sort of way. To me, each book is not just linked to the wonderful stories inside, or to the characters that became friends (or dreadful enemies or incredible annoyances, depending on the character, the point is that they all became much more real to me than fictional characters)–these books are linked to parts of my life.

The first three books remind me of the part of my life when I first stepped out of my shell a bit. I was very intensely shy as a child, and the time when I first made friends (rather than my mother making them for me) was around the same part of my life that I first discovered the Harry Potter series through my third grade teacher. And what did my friends and I do? We talked about Harry Potter and pretended we went to Hogwarts! This time in my life was my first step towards independence, towards being my own person, in lots of ways that I didn’t even begin to realize then. But now, when I look at those books, I am reminded of it, and of who I was then.

And so on for books four through seven. These books mean a lot to me, as you can tell, to the point where, though I realize they’re far from perfect, and can even point out a few criticisms (one word: camping), I find it incredibly difficult to be objectively critical of the series. Except the epilogue, which was kind of awful.

What is it for you? The author or book or series that you love so much, for some reason or another, that it is simply above and beyond feelings for any other book?