Whenever somebody asks me what my favorite books are, I feel like my answer should be “important” books, like “Pride and Prejudice,” “The Great Gatsby,” or “Ulysses,” especially given that I’m a Literature major and should (theoretically) be familiar with the literary canon. And to be honest, sometimes I lie and name some of these classics, mostly because I feel like it’s what people expect from someone who has proudly labelled themselves a bookworm. But, for almost 13 years now, the true answer has been a little book series about a boy wizard. You may have heard of it—it’s called Harry Potter.

Now, I am well aware that although Harry Potter has great characters, an amazing story, and pretty damn good writing, it doesn’t quite fit in with what many would think of as “Great Literature,” which is why many people are surprised when I tell them that the Harry Potter books are still my favorite books of all time. However, what they’re missing is the difference between “best” and “favorite.” I am well aware that the Harry Potter books are not the “best books of all time”, and have read many books that I would say are, technically speaking, “better” than Harry Potter. But, they’re still my favorite, for several different reasons.

I read the first five Harry Potter books more or less right in a row, and they blew my 7-year old mind. Although I had been reading for several years at that point, I had never before known that books could be like this—I didn’t know that "foreshadowing" or "plot twists" existed, that books could make you laugh out loud or even cry, and least of all that main characters could die. I also never knew that it was possible to identify so completely with a fictional character, but Hermione and I were (and remain to this day) basically the same person. These books were what made me fall in love with reading, and that love has impacted my life to the extent that it played a huge role in my decision to major in Literature and with any luck, have a career in publishing.

To me, loving Harry Potter is practically part of my identity. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that those books helped shape me and my personality growing up. I read my first Harry Potter book at the age of 7. At 11, I won the trivia contest at my local midnight release of the 7th book, at 13, I had one of the best days of my life at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, at 15, I cried as the credits rolled on the last movie, at 18, I eagerly signed up for my college’s “Hogwarts at Hamilton” event, and now, at nearly 20, I immediately pre-ordered the script for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” the very same day it was announced, and later on this year I’m going to be there opening night when "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" hits theaters. So, no matter what it is I actually say when people ask me what my favorite books are, it’s safe to say that the real answer is undoubtedly Harry Potter. Always.