A college kid’s definitive ranking of the “Harry Potter” books


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

Harry Potter is the titular character of the series which has sold more than 500 million books worldwide. Read through this ranking of all seven “Harry Potter” books.

Pavan Acharya, Reporter

During Wildcat Wellness, I escaped the constraints of my dorm room and ventured back to the magical world of “Harry Potter” via a free trial of Kindle Unlimited.

My journey back into the pages of “Harry Potter” was magical and nostalgic, but challenged my impression of the series. It is inevitable that my perspective as a stressed-out college student would shift my view of a series of children’s books. 

After deep thought and concentration, I present to you my new and definitive ranking of the “Harry Potter” books, from least favorite to favorite. Spoilers ahead. 

7. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

This ranking likely comes as no surprise. “Chamber of Secrets” is the most forgettable “Harry Potter” book. 

Despite its short length, the second entry of the series features one of its most extensive plots. More plot does not necessarily guarantee a better story, however, and “Chamber of Secrets” lacks characterization and emotion as a result.

It is by no means a bad book and I see why I thoroughly enjoyed it as a child, as it includes the escapist elements Harry Potter fans have come to expect. But the convoluted plot makes it an unenjoyable reread.

6. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

Like most penultimate entries in franchises, the sixth “Harry Potter” book exists to set up its much more engaging finale, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Although it is intriguing to learn about Lord Voldemort’s past, “Half-Blood Prince” is essentially just exposition. Parts of this book that are not a chock-full of set-up are dedicated to awkward teen romance, which I personally did not enjoy.

“Half-Blood Prince” has enjoyable elements, one of which being Potter and Albus Dumbledore’s fleshed out relationship. J.K. Rowling’s sixth “Harry Potter” book is a solid entry, but it is unable to stand on its own.

5. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

“Sorcerer’s Stone” is the original “Harry Potter” book. The entire Wizarding World franchise owes its existence to this fun and whimsical first entry.

Rowling’s introduction to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is impossible to dislike, due to the creative ideas employed throughout this book, drawing the audience into a world of magic. 

As an adult, however, I found this book a tad unengaging. Having read “Sorcerer’s Stone” multiple times, I don’t feel the same emotions of awe and wonder I felt as a child. Despite my aging perspective, though, “Sorcerer’s Stone” still delivers a fantastical introduction to the “Harry Potter” series.

4. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

“Prisoner of Azkaban” is the first stepping stone the Harry Potter series takes to a more mature direction for its story and characters.The third “Harry Potter” installment significantly improves upon “Chamber of Secrets” by having a simpler plot and an increased focus on character relationships.

In “Prisoner of Azkaban,” Harry’s thoughts and fears are fleshed out, and throughout the book we feel his longing for his dead parents. Sirius Black and Remus Lupin’s introductions to the series connect to the book’s theme of nostalgia. 

3. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” 

“Deathly Hallows” is a perfect ending to the “Harry Potter” series. It’s personal, emotional and has the highest stakes of the series. 

Most of the book takes place outside of Hogwarts, with Harry, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger on the move in search of horcruxes. This new dynamic creates an added tension which makes the eventual demise of Lord Voldemort even more satisfying. 

“Deathly Hallows” fires on all cylinders to deliver a mature and satisfying conclusion to the “Harry Potter” books.

2. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

I’m not going to lie, this ranking is probably surprising — heck, it surprised even me. But “Order of the Phoenix” is one of the best Harry Potter books, even though it was my least favorite entry as a kid.

The fifth Harry Potter book is the first to completely embrace a mature tone, perhaps to keep pace with its aging audience. Throughout the book, Harry has to deal with a Wizarding World that has turned its back on him and refuses to believe Lord Voldemort has returned. This concept sets up one of the most engaging plots of the series. 

“Order of the Phoenix” successfully changes the formula for what a “Harry Potter” book can be and presents its protagonist with mature, grown-up challenges.

1. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

The fourth “Harry Potter” book has and will always be my favorite. 

“Goblet of Fire” is peak Harry Potter. It includes the fantastical elements we have come to love from the series and has the most interesting story of the series. This entry also deals directly with concepts of death and evil, setting a darker tone for the rest of the series.

Rowling’s fourth “Harry Potter” entry provides fun, maturity, and most importantly escapism, making it the best book of one of the best series of all time.

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Twitter: @PavanAcharya02

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