Like many people (especially twenty-somethings like me), Harry Potter changed my life. Once upon a time, I did NOT like to read. My family despaired of me, but even though I had a good reading ability, I just couldn’t find any books that I really connected with (besides Pokémon chapter books, which were way too easy and also crap).
When I was 11-years-old, my mom bought me a paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at a school bookfair. “I’ve heard this is pretty good,” she said, handing me the book.
I didn’t read it.
I remember, maybe a month later, picking up the book and reading the first page by the light of a Nikelodeon light up pen. It was boring, so I closed the book and put it aside.
I honestly don’t really remember reading Harry Potter for the first time. I mean, obviously, I read it and fell in love, but I don’t have any clear memories of experiencing the wizarding world for the first time. After, I kept pestering my mom for the sequel. Eventually, she gave in and even decided to read the first book for herself. She became a fan, too.
The rest is history. I read books 4-7 on their release days. I saw/own the movies, a ton of merchandise, costumes, a wand, etc. I almost started crying when I walked into Diagon Alley at Universal Studios in Florida.
But, as with every series, I have a favorite book and a least favorite. The rest fall somewhere in between, and I’ve discovered that some of my opinions are controversial.
So…here’s my list of Harry Potter books from my least favorite to my favorite. (Please keep in mind that I do love all of these books. Even a book at #7 on this list is within my 10 favorite books of all time.)
Here we go…
7. The Goblet of Fire
I remember reading chapter 1 of this book on the way home from the store. I was super confused. Where? Who? What? It got easier after that, but it still take so LONG for Harry to actually get to Hogwarts. To me, most of this book just feels like setup. It’s a bunch of filler that eventually leads to the resurrection/re-bodyfication of Voldemort. There’ a lot of stuff in this book that just doesn’t seem to matter all that much to the overall story arc.
6. The Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone
I feel really bad putting this book so low, but I just enjoy the others so much more. This is a fun, quick read that does a great job of introducing readers to the wizarding world, but…it almost feels a bit too light. Especially going back after all 7 books have been published, there are parts of the first couple of books that seem to be a bit erroneous. I do love the little things that get tied back later in the series, though (e.g. Sirius Black, Mrs. Figg).
5. The Chamber of Secrets
My opinions on this book are pretty much the same as with Sorcerer’s Stone. Some bits just seem a bit irrelevant or put in for convenience (like Nearly Headless Nick’s death day party). Also, the Ministry’s incompetence in the handling of the original opening of the chamber is frustrating. The ‘follow the spiders” bit has a point, but it’s given more time and importance than it probably deserves. My favorite thing in this book is the Tom Marvolo Riddle = I Am Lord Voldemort thing. It’s stupid and is very convenient, but 12-year-old me thought it was super cool.
4. The Deathly Hallows
I’m not going to lie, I’ve only read this book once (part of why this is a flawed list that I’ll have to revisit in the future). I remember being bored for about the first half, or as I call it, Harry Potter and the Really Long Camping Trip. I also remember being confused by the hallows and horcrux stuff. I didn’t cry, though, so there’s that. Thinking back on it, I really do love the hallows, the horcruxes, the wand possession bit, and the fact that Harry manages to kill Voldemort without using dark magic. I also appreciate how well J.K. Rowling managed to stick to the classic hero’s journey. This was a very smart and satisfying conclusion to one of the best series of all time.
3. The Order of the Phoenix
CAPSLOCK HARRY!!! This book used to make me a bit angry because I thought that Harry was too whiny. I understand his anger and frustration a lot more now. Dolores Umbridge is probably one of the best villains ever. Voldemort is evil in a rare, Hitler kind of way. Umbridge, on the other hand, works in every office, every institution, and every government. She is much more real and accessible kind of evil. Everyone has met someone like Umbridge in their lives, and that is why she is so terrifying.
2. The Half-Blood Prince
I absolutely love this book. I really couldn’t decide whether this should be first or second. I love Draco Malfoy, so I loved that he actually kind of turned into a woobie in the books. Plus, Harry spends the whole book being obsessed with Malfoy (so much fodder for fanfiction!). When I first read it, though, I was all about Harry/Ginny. And, of course, Voldemort’s background is explored in this book. It’s dark, creepy, totally messed up, and important. I’ll admit that I didn’t cry when Dumbledore died. But I did guess early on in the book who the Half-Blood Prince was. I own at least 3 copies of this book…
1. The Prisoner of Azkaban
LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! Seriously, I love time travel hijinks, so the end of this book is the absolute best. I also love Remus Lupin and learning all about the Marauders. I remember getting this book as an Easter gift, and I had to replace that copy a few years later because it was falling apart. I view this book as a bit of a turning. Not as much at GOF (the literal middle of the series), but this book is where things start to get a bit more complicated and murky. The main trio is getting more mature and intelligent, and it’s all so much fun. Fun fact: the POA movie was the first Harry Potter movie that felt truly magical to me. Alfonso Cuaron > Chris Columbus.
So that’s my list! What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.