18. I am thankful for J.K. Rowling.
When I was little I liked reading and having books read to me. The Spot books by Eric Hill were my favorite. Unfortunately, I was too smart for my own good. My reading level was several grades higher than my own, thus I was forced to read boring old people books. I hated it. It really put me off reading for a while. Then in middle school I was up at school in the summer for some reason and I found a copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner from Azkaban that someone had left behind. I didn't have anything else to do so I started reading it. Obviously I was very confused and had no idea what was going on, but I liked it.
I quickly read through all the books out of the time and it changed my life forever. I was a huge Harry Potter nerd. I read fanfiction, listened to/appeared on podcasts, had midnight release parties, hosted a Wizard Rock concert, and most of my friends in high school I made because of our mutual interest in Harry Potter. That last icon up there, about Voldemort? I made that. I made several HP themed icons in my day but that's by far the most popular one. Imagine the most HP obsessed person you can think of, that was me. Sean Biggerstaff, the guy who played Oliver Wood, was at the top of my celebrity crush list for pretty much ever.
Harry Potter let me know that I could enjoy reading. There were stories out there that could engage my mind without boring me to death. It's such a well planned out series that I could read it over and over and pick up on new little details each time. I spent so much time theorizing and using critical thinking skills because of this book. When you get to the end, and you learn the full backstory of who Snape is... it's just amazing. There is so much depth to him He's still my favorite fictional character.
More than just impacting all of my teenage years to a greater degree than anything else, more than bringing me and my friends together, J.K. Rowling reminded me of my love for the written word. I started reading again and never looked back. Reading, especially fantasy, is one my favorite hobbies now and I'm not sure that would be true if I hadn't found that book in middle school. I can never thank her enough for that.