Let me count the ways.
First, the HP books are just good reads. Of all the books I read, I never, ever read fantasy. (OK, there was that brief attempt at The Highlander; Pam even bookmarked the saucy bits for me in an attempt to make me read and love it like she and Susan do, but to no avail.) But in HP, I love the time travel, the fantastic creatures, the spells -- the prospect of any of these in a novel never interested me in the least bit before HP.
All this fantasy wraps around a great story of friendship, love and loyalty.
And exciting! The mysteries, the clues, the chases, the narrow escapes! Sometimes after an especially thrilling chapter, I would have to set the book down and walk away for a bit to decompress.
But the thing I like best about the Harry Potter books is sharing them with Will. Maggie was 10 when I bought the first book, hoping that she would find it interesting. She didn't, and it sat on the bookshelf for awhile until Will asked me to read it to him; he was probably about 7 or 8. I can't even guess how many hours we spent sitting on the couch reading. I tried to use a different voice for each character, but I had a little consistency problem; Will would often say, "Mom, that's not how Mr. Weasley (or Hermione or Dumbledore) sounded like last night." (I think I did a pretty great Molly Weasley; I feel a kinship with her!) And he couldn't understand why I would get weepy in the middle of a sentence, as when Harry saw his parents in the Mirror of Erised. Will never wanted to stop for the evening, and begged me to keep reading, even though he had to close his eyes "just for a little bit."
We continued this way through three books, but a few chapters into book 4, Will turned to me and said, "Mom, would it be OK if I just read by myself now?" Well, that was terrific, because the boy who didn't much like to read was tackling a huge book, just what I had hoped for. But it was so sad for me to give up that time together. So, through 4,5 and 6, we took turns with the books and talked about each chapter, being careful not to give anything away if one of us had read ahead.
Last Saturday afternoon, we parked ourselves in the family room with two copies of Book 7, Will on the love seat and me on the couch. A moan or a chuckle from one of us would prompt the other one to ask, "What page are you on?" After Mass and a bite of supper, we were back at it; we didn't even hear Clay come in the front door (he had just gotten back from a week in China -- sorry, dad.)
Since it was county fair week, we had to interrupt our reading to work at our church stand. (One of the midway workers came for lunch every day, carrying his copy of the book to read while he ate; he didn't want to talk to anyone about the book for fear something from the plot would slip out. On Thursday he came without his book, and since he had finished it the night before, we had a nice talk -- I just had to warn him not to give anything away!) Will got a ride home early on Thursday with some friends, and I knew he would finish before Clay and I got home; I wanted to be there for him in case the ending upset him (how Molly Weasley is that?!)
I got up early Friday morning and finished the last few chapters. I loved the book and am happy with the ending, but I want more. More about Harry, more about the 19 years, but mostly, more of that special time with Will. Now that he's 14 and doesn't need me to read out loud anymore, he talks more with Clay, about football, biking and cars. But we'll always have lousy Scottish accents, "just one more chapter," and Quidditch play-by-play. That's why I love Harry Potter.