8 Books That Should Be On Every Harry Potter Fan's Bucket List
I love Harry Potter as much as the next person. (Actually, in most situations, probably way more than the next person. I love Harry Potter to an almost unhealthy degree.) The series is literary comfort food for me. I know that no matter what, I can always curl up into the books and be home. But as much as I adore rereading, Harry Potter is, alas, only seven books. There is a wide world of amazing literature out there, waiting to be devoured.
It's hard to pin down exactly what makes Harry Potter so, well, magical. Is it the colorful characters? The thrill of wizarding school? The spirit of adventure? No doubt, J.K. Rowling's world is packed-full of charm. But there are also darker, more serious sides to the Harry Potter books. Are we, then, drawn to the struggle between light and dark? The deep emotions we feel with Harry as he fights his way to the end? The answer is probably yes, yes, and yes to it all. Each person has their own personal draw and connection to Harry's story.
So, as you try to satisfy that Potter craving, these books will hit the parts of you that are aching for more Harry Potter, and they'll act as Portkeys, taking you to new, fantastic worlds and adventures.
1. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
Really, there are tons of great Discworld reads to choose from. Magical fantasy world? Check. Commentary on real life? Double check. Charming British-isms? Out the wazoo. Set in the hilariously absurd Discworld, in a swashbuckling city called Ankh-Morporkh, Guards! Guards! follows a rag-tag crew of city Watchmen (led by the lovable Captain Vimes) as they try to save the city from itself, and, most recently, the threat of a fire-breathing dragon.
2. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Just as Harry discovers a wizarding world behind the Muggle world, The Lightning Thief reveals a thriving world of Greek mythology churning behind our modern lives.This is the first in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and like Harry Potter, it's one of those series that, while written for young readers, will delight you no matter what age you are. Percy is just a normal New York kid until he finds out that his father was a god, and he's sent to a demigod summer camp on Long Island called Camp Halfblood, where he encounters magic, friendship, and chaos, all wrapped into one.
3. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
It would be impossible to create this list without including a Neil Gaiman book. Stardust is the definition of an adventurous romp, filled with rich characters, innovative ideas, and simply charming story-telling. This is the story of Tristan Thorn, who ventures from his small town into a fantasy kingdom on a quest to retrieve a falling star — which, much to his surprise, turns out to be an actual woman. Filled with witches, curses, lightning pirates, royal intrigue, and plenty of magic, Stardust will tickle you in all the important ways.
(If you've seen the movie, the book has a separate flavor. Both are marvelous.)
4. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
If you're looking for more magical adventure, this is one of the best fantasy books around. Set in a a richly-packed realm that has rules all its own, The Way of Kings follows several fascinating characters: a slave named Kaladin who inadvertently becomes a leader; Shallan, a young scholar/artist as she plans a grand theft; and Dalinar, the brother of the recently-assassinated king, who has been having strange, harrowing visions. Bubbling under the surface are prophetic rumors of an ancient, powerful order called the Knights Radiant. The first of Sanderson's Stormlight Archive Series, this book is huge but you'll blow through it.
5. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
This book is a thrilling step away from the white-male-dominated side of adult fantasy. Like Harry Potter, Who Fears Death is filled with magic, prophecy, heroism, and coming-of-age themes — all packed in the story of a girl, Onyesonwu, growing up in turbulent post-apocalyptic Africa, who must use her magic to end the genocide of her people. Who Fears Death is very much a book about womanhood, for all its challenges and all its power, and it is unique in the way that it infuses womanhood into the concept of magic.
6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Another enchanting wizarding school, with different characters and different stakes. (There's even a professor who's a bit of a cross between Dumbledore and Mad-Eye Moody.) The first in the Kingkiller Chronicle series, a hero-in-hiding named Kvothe tells the story of how he became the legend that he is. Like Harry, Kvothe has humble beginnings, but soon finds that he has a special quality and a draw towards heroism that often ends up with him in the midst of trouble. Music, romance, and magic-learning weave together in beautiful prose to bring Kvothe's world to life.
7. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
It's no secret that I'm a huge Tamora Pierce fan. If you're aching for a more Hermione-centric version of Harry Potter, crack open Pierce's books stat. Alanna: The First Adventure is the first of the Song of the Lioness quartet, chronicling the story of Alanna of Trebond, who disguises herself as a boy in order to become a knight. As she pushes herself through the challenges of knight's training, she discovers both friendship and excitement, along with a dark mystery surrounding her new life.
8. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
This is a book that you'll love if you love the magic and intrigue of Harry Potter, but don't expect a world of cheer. This is the story of Nathaniel, a boy magician-in-training, who summons an ancient djinni, Bartimaeus, in order to exact revenge upon a fully-fledged magician. This book is characterized by Bartimaeus' hilarious footnote-ridden style of narration, and his cheeky perspective on humankind.
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