Harry Potter is a fantasy book series that was first published from 1997 to 2007. At the time, there were not that many intricate, imaginative, and fully fleshed-out fantasy series made for children.
The books shot to fame immediately, and fans patiently awaited the next installment’s publication. People would queue up outside stores for hours, waiting for them to open when the books finally arrived in stores.
An entire generation of children grew up with Harry Potter, the novels had a great impact on their lives, and made people want to read books again.
The books are not simply fantasy novels intended for children and young adults, but explore some complex issues such as death, love, family, and the importance of friendship and perseverance.
The books have been widely critically acclaimed, and have sold over 500 million copies worldwide, sparking a successful movie series, too.
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who has not heard of the story of Harry Potter.
About Harry Potter
Harry Potter is arguably the most well-known and popular fantasy book series in the world.
Written by British author J.K. Rowling, the series follows a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger as they become students in a magical wizarding school called Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
As Harry joins the school as a ‘muggle’ – a person unknowing of the hidden world of magic, he begins to learn about himself, his identity, and his past.
A dark and powerful wizard, Lord Voldemort who wants to take over the wizarding world and destroy all ‘muggles’ or those with non-magical blood in his search for power was destroyed many years ago.
The wizard sought to kill Harry and killed his parents in trying to do so, but Harry was the one who survived, or The Boy Who Lived.
His story is legendary in the wizarding world, and many thank him for ridding them of the evil Lord Voldemort. Or so they thought.
Rumors spread of the dark wizard’s return, and Harry is the only one who can go up against him.
Throughout the series, Voldemort returns in various ways to put Harry’s life in jeopardy.
Along the way, many characters are introduced, and Harry and his friends must learn how to harness their powers if they are going to face the threat of Lord Voldemort and save humanity.
If you’re unsure where to begin with the Harry Potter series, let’s take a look at which order to read the books in, and what each one entails.
Harry Potter Books In Order
The first book in the series is The Sorcerer’s Stone, or the Philosopher’s Stone if you are reading in the UK. This book sets up the story and introduces us to the characters, the wizarding world, and Hogwarts.
Harry is being raised by his horrid Aunt and Uncle who have kept him in the closet, and use him as their own servant.
That is, until one day a giant man arrives on Harry’s 11th birthday and tells Harry that he is of magical descent, and is ready to go to the magical wizarding school.
He is whisked away and discovers magic. However, in the magical world, Harry is incredibly famous.
He is the boy who survived the evil Lord Voldemort, the dark wizard who murdered his parents. From there, he is set on a course to discover his destiny and purpose.
- The first book of the series, which sets up the wizarding world nicely and introduces readers to the wonders of magic.
- Is one of the shortest books in the series, and deals with some themes of death and grief.
Themes: Identity, Death, Destiny, Magic, Fantasy, Friendship
Harry has spent the summer with his horrid aunt and uncle and is so ready to return to Hogwarts for his second year. However, before he leaves he is visited by an elf who warns him not to return to school.
There is a plot to make terrible things happen. Harry ignores this message but soon begins to see that the elf was right.
A terrible monster has been unleashed in the school, hiding in the shadows, seeking to kill. Harry must figure out who is behind these horrible acts before it is too late.
- Invites you to a journey of mystery, and keeps readers guessing the whole time.
- Opens up a discussion of race, with muggle-borns and those of ‘impure blood’ being seen as lesser than ‘pureblood’ students, which can be difficult to deal with for some readers.
Themes: Monsters, Fear, Death, Magic, Mystery.
In this book, Harry discovers that an infamous prisoner of the fortress of Azkaban has escaped from his prison.
A known murderer is on the loose. The wizarding world is abuzz with the prisoner’s escape, and Harry discovers that there is one person that is truly at risk – himself.
Soon enough, word spreads that the prisoner is within the walls of Hogwarts, and Harry is not safe. But, all is not as it seems, and Harry is unsure who to trust and who to fear.
- We learn more about the wizarding world and its prisons and history. We are introduced to the marauder’s map and those who created it, and Harry learns more about his parents, and how they came to die.
- Can be scary at times, with horrible creatures and the threat of a murderer on the loose. Not for younger readers.
Themes: Threat, Mystery, Magic, Friendship, Fantasy.
In the fourth installment, we get to see more of what the wizarding world is like. The Triwizard Tournament invites two other wizarding schools to compete against Hogwarts in a mysterious and deadly competition.
The competition hasn’t happened for over 100 years due to a high death toll of students, but once again it is taking place, and Harry can’t wait to see it unfold.
Hoping to have a quieter year at Hogwarts, and not be at the forefront of the drama, Harry finds himself wrapped up in the events of the tournament. However, the threat of Voldemort’s power is growing stronger.
- The Triwizard tournament is thrilling to read about, and you feel you are taking part in it yourself.
- Books are becoming increasingly dark, and more death and evil is present.
Themes: Dark, Mystery, Fantasy, Threat, Competition, Coming Of Age.
Harry is now in his fifth year of Hogwarts, and the challenges are becoming stronger. Lord Voldemort is gathering his followers and his strength, and Harry is a sitting duck.
The wizarding government fails to believe that Voldemort is going to return, so Harry and his friends join together to form a club to learn how to defend themselves.
- The theme of friendship is truly present in this book, as students band together.
- This is one of the largest books in the series, and you may find some sections do not progress the story as much.
Themes: The Value Of Friendship, Government Ignorance, Political Power, Death
Voldemort has returned. Harry is fearful for his life, and the safety of all of those he loves. Professor Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts is always away from the school on a secret mission.
When he returns, he seeks Harry’s help and offers insight into who Voldemort once was, and how he behaved as a boy and at Hogwarts school.
In doing so, they hope to uncover the dark lord’s secrets and weaknesses if they want to learn how to defeat him once and for all.
In the meantime, Harry discovers a second-hand potions book once owned by the mysterious Half-Blood Prince, where he learns tricks and tips of how to make the most powerful potions. But, who is this secretive potions-master?
- We learn more about Lord Voldemort and how he came to be so evil and dark. We gain insight into his past, and learn how to possibly destroy him.
- Slows down the pace of Harry’s journey substantially.
Themes: Mystery, Fantasy, Death, The Past.
In the final installment, Harry embarks on a journey to uncover Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes. By finding and destroying them, they can destroy the evil wizard and save humanity.
As the series progressed, the books have gotten darker, leading to this spectacular finale.
Harry and his friends have already lost so much. Loved ones, family members, and all those who have fought against evil.
Harry faces more danger and battles than ever before, and has lost himself along the way. He must now decide on ‘doing what is right, and what is easy’, with the safety of the wizarding world on his shoulders.
The book leads to an incredible showdown between Harry and Lord Voldemort, good and evil, on none other than the grounds of Hogwarts itself.
This is the end of Harry’s spellbinding journey and battle against the wicked Lord Voldemort. Will goodness prevail?
- Amazing finale to the 7 book long journey.
- Be warned, there is a lot of death, evil, and destruction which can be upsetting.
Themes: Good vs Evil, Death, Destruction, Love, Friendship.
If you want to be taken on a journey filled with magic, battles, wands, mythical creatures, and mystery, then Harry Potter is the series for you.
With seven spectacular books, J.K. Rowling takes you on one of the most incredible adventures and coming-of-age stories.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Order Should You Read The Harry Potter Books In?
You should read the books in chronological order, in the order shown above, as this is what J.K. Rowling intended.
She is very good at setting up the story, and once you have read the books to completion, you will want to read them again, as you’ll pick up on so many foreshadowing and foreboding moments throughout the earlier books that really come together in the finale.
Should I Read Harry Potter Before Watching The Movies?
I would recommend reading the Harry Potter books before watching the movies, however, it doesn’t really matter.
The movies have limited timeframes, so a lot of the wizarding world is left out, and all of the nuances and imagination that J.K. Rowling poured into the books is glossed over in the movies.
Once you’ve read the books, you’ll find that there are a lot more characters with interesting quirks that are not in the movies, such as Peeves the ghost, or Winky and the other house elves who are employed at Hogwarts, and the characters have much more depth in the books.
You will get to understand the wizarding world much more, be able to see more wizardry classes, and explore the town of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley in greater detail.
You also get a greater understanding of the villain Voldemort, and how he came to be when you read the books, particularly in book six: The Half-Blood Prince, which you do not get from the movies.
Likewise, if you’ve seen the movies and loved them, then we implore you to read the books.
Can I Skip Any Of The Harry Potter Books?
No, you should not skip any of the Harry Potter books. J.K. Rowling is a master of her craft and leaves subtle hints and a lot of foreshadowing in the Harry Potter books.
While you may be excited to get to the end, it has a far greater impact if you read all of the books in order without skipping any, as you could miss a vital clue or hint.
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