The second item of Harry Potter and the 30 Day Writing Challenge is ranking the books. As someone who has read this series more than 20 times over the course of 20 years, my ranking has morphed and grown along with me, but I think I’ve settled into a definitive order, which goes as follows:
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Look, as I mentioned in my previous post, this book was my introduction to the world of Harry Potter and it pulled me in like no other book had done before. It’s a good book. It’s just hard to place it about any of the other good books in the series.
6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix This book is a tough hang. You are stuck inside the head of a traumatized teenager, and teenagers (even those of the un-traumatized variety) are pretty exhausting. On top of that, Harry and co are under the thumb of Dolores Umbridge, and subjected to her maddeningly unfair tactics. Meanwhile, everyone is grouchy and sniping at one another. There are some amazing character moments (haaaave you met Minerva?) and great story-telling, but this book is stressful af to read.
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone This book is delightful and engaging and a letter perfect introduction to the Wizarding World. I don’t think I could find a thing to complain about if I tried. The only reason it doesn’t top the list is that it can’t hang with the complexity of the rest of the series.
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows In all reality, this is tied for number 3 in my heart, but that’s not how rankings work. This book contains, in my opinion, the most perfect stretch of writing in the entire series (The Prince’s Tale → The Forest Again → King’s Cross). This one gets better every single time I read it.
3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire This one really reads like a mystery novel. The twists and turns flashbacks and ultimate reveal are absolutely delicious. With some tweaking, it could almost be a standalone story, which is wild, since it is also so fundamentally interwoven with the story, as a whole. “Would definitely recommend,” said Dumbledore, calmly.
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince This used to rank much, much lower on my list. But with time, and deep diving, there is no way I could have it anywhere but here.
Moderately warm take: This is the best book in the series.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban I was always a reader. Beverly Cleary, R L Stine, Ann M Martin, Sharon Creech, Judy Blume, Madeline L’Engle, Louis Sachar, I read and enjoyed nearly everything they put out. But when I first read Prisoner of Azkaban, I would have forsaken them all forever, just for a chance to read it again. This book really has it all. Marvelous and compelling storytelling, beautifully written prose, the establishment of so many key elements of the overarching plot, some of the most oft-quoted lines in the series, and of course, the introduction of Sirius Black and Remus Lupin😍.
That’s my ranking, but your mileage may vary, so if you beg to differ, tell me! I mean, you’d be wrong, but I want to hear nonetheless 😉😚.