11 Best Harry Potter Books Ranked, Including Extended Series

Joanne Rowling, better known by her pen name JK. Rowling, helped an entire generation of kids become fascinated with reading again. Her Harry Potter series set the standard all other young adult novels are measured by, and it’s no wonder why. 

With witty writing,  descriptive storytelling and layered characters, the stories of Harry Potter and the magical universe he lives among his friends, allies, and enemies have already become literary classics. 

It’s considered by many a perfect example of low or urban fantasy, splashed with dashes of romance, black humor, tragicomedy, thriller, and even horror. Without a doubt, it also fits the description of a coming of age story. All in all, the Harry Potter universe is filled with a little something for everyone’s taste. 

There has been some controversy behind the series, but in the end, it’s a magical and fascinating world penned by a brilliant and witty writer.

Let’s explore in-depth this rich and thrilling universe Rowling created, to the delight of millions.

1. Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone (JK Rowling)

The series’ very first book, there is no doubt why Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone managed to win over the critics and readers alike. It introduces the audience to a wide array of thrilling and easy-to-relate-with characters, as well as a rich backstory. In this initial adventure, the titular character, Harry, discovers that he is not a normal kid living a miserable life with his aunt and uncle. He is a wizard, and he will be attending the prestigious magic school, Hogwarts. There, he’ll discover that a dark plan to bring back the ultimate dark wizard is being weaved by one of the school’s teachers. Harry, along with his new friends, will fight a battle against time to save the world from the return of You-know-who. 

Review: This is without a doubt an enchanting and fun first approach to the Harry Potter saga. It might be a bit childish for older audiences, who might enjoy the later books better. That being said, it’s still a beautiful story and worthy of being read even by adults. 

It’s a funny and beautiful book, it charmingly introduces the reader to the characters they’ll get to know so well throughout the rest of the series. It doesn’t offer hints at the darkness that’ll become predominant in later installments. Perhaps it’s a bit of a blessing, as this might have kept avid readers from getting into the series, to begin with.

  • Author: Since the same author penned all the books on this list, we’ll be talking about her in this first entry alone.

Joanne Rowling is a massively renowned author best known for her Harry Potter series. She was born in Gloucestershire and worked as a researcher and bilingual secretary before deciding to quit in order to dedicate herself fully to her writing. During seven years, she wrote incessantly and finally managed to get her first book published. She eventually would go on to sell the rights to her books and produce several films. Apart from her Harry Potter saga, she’s written several crime books using the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. 

  • Pages: 223
  • Publisher: Raincoast (26 June 1997)

2. Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets (JK Rowling)

In this second installment, Harry Potter has lived a miserable summer with his aunt and uncle but is soon to return to his beloved Hogwarts. He can’t wait to see his friends once again but is confused as to why they haven’t contacted him over the summer.

The mystery of this utter lack of communication with the wizardly world will soon be unveiled, and it will unwittingly open the door to the schemes being played by the dark forces that want Lord Voldemort to return. Harry and his friends will have to endure a school year filled with strange occurrences, and the lives of several students will be put in the line, including one of Harry’s best friends: Hermione Granger. 

Review: The chamber of secrets is a thrilling and exciting book that both children and adults will enjoy alike. It’s more grown-up than the first book of the saga, both in content and in the age of its protagonists. It was well-received by both the public and the critics, who praised the strong plot, engaging characters and overall funny and moving dialogues.

If there is a weak point, it’s one shared by many other books in the saga: An unnecessary use of the deus-ex-machina plot device. 

  • Pages: 251
  • Publisher: Raincoast (2 July 1998)

3. Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban (JK Rowling)

Harry Potter and his best friends are 13 in this third book. From this moment on, the series will begin getting increasingly dark as it progresses. The prisoner of Azkaban begins with a dark and dangerous threat that’ll follow the trio of protagonists all through the book. In the end, though, a surprising twist will make them realize that not everything is what it seems. There is a dark secret lurking in Hogwarts, but their hidden enemy is as unlikely as he is dangerous. 

The titular prisoner of Azkaban will be a constant source of mystery and unanswered questions throughout the book. These won’t be resolved until the very last chapters of the book, and the revelations will make avid readers gasp!

Betrayals, secrets, and creepy dementors will keep the readers on the edge of their seats until the very end!

Review: The third book in the Harry Potter series is emotional and fascinating, showing the titular character’s growth. It also allows the reader to get a glimpse into the past, at the experiences Harry’s parents and their friends shared once upon a time at Hogwarts. It was received well by both the public and critics alike. It’s worth mentioning that the prisoner of Azkaban was accused of being too sentimental, but it’s most definitely a worthy read.

  • Pages: 317
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury (8 July 1999)

4. Harry Potter and the goblet of fire (JK Rowling)

Foreign students making a grand impression? Check! A tournament filled with danger and twists at every turn? Double-check! A conspiracy that threatens not only Harry’s life but also his fellow contestants? You bet!

The goblet of fire is an installment filled with mysteries and dangers lurking in every corner. It also features a particularly dramatic death of a beloved character, and it’s the first time the readers were faced with the reality that no one was really safe. From that point on, the door became open for other such shocking deaths.

Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is considered by many the weakest book in the series. This is due mainly to Harry’s apparent dependence on other people’s actions all through the plot. Even entering the contest wasn’t his idea, and most of what happened through the book would have occurred no matter what he did or refused to do. That being said, it’s still a deeply emotional story and it’s still a moving and fascinating read. The tone of this book is far grimmer than its predecessors, and that might be a welcomed change for the series’ readers, many of whom grew alongside the protagonists.

  • Pages: 636
  • Publisher: Raincoast (8 July 2000)

5. Harry Potter and the order of the phoenix (JK Rowling)

Hogwarts faces massive changes in the Order of the Phoenix, and it’s undeniable that not all villains dress in black. Not only do Harry and his friends have to face Voldemort’s followers, but also a brand new villainess clad in pink.

The death of yet another beloved character broke many reader’s hearts, and it’s clear by now that the books will grow increasingly grim and gritty as the series continues. Harry and his friends are 15 in this book and they are forced to endure trials that no teenager should come face to face with. By the end of the book, the future is uncertain, but Harry’s determination to fight for what’s right is stronger than ever.

Review: The fifth book in the series was mostly praised by both readers and critics alike. The plot is thrilling and filled with suspense, the protagonists go through major character development and there are even a few tear-jerker moments for those who cherish a little bit of drama. Most of the criticism that the book received comes from the violence and moral dilemmas featured throughout the story. For those who preferred the lighter tone of the first and second books, this might be a bit too dark for their taste. It’s not appropriate for very young children, though it’s certainly a fascinating read for the older audiences.

  • Pages: 766
  • Publisher: Raincoast (21 June 2003)

6. Harry Potter and the half-blood prince (JK Rowling)

By this sixth installment, all bets are off. Danger is more real than ever, and heartbreaking deaths will shock the readers more than ever before.

Betrayals are the order of the day, and it’s undeniable that the half-blood prince is filled with so many twists and turns that it ends up leaving the readers feeling both thrilled and confused at the same time.

The risk of spoiling several plot twists prevents us from revealing too many details from Harry Potter and the half-blood prince. It’s safe to disclose that it’s filled with dark humor, romance, drama and several surprise revelations that make for the perfect preamble for the series’ last book.

Review: The sixth book of the series is definitely not fit for younger audiences. It’s thrilling and filled with suspense, as well as violence and darker themes than ever before. It’s aimed at a more adult public. Though it’s filled with emotional scenes, it also features the wry humor JK Rowling has become well-known for. The characters are well established and have grown tremendously since the first book in the series. It’s a fascinating volume to read, but the readers should be ready for it to be more intense than previous installments. 

  • Pages: 607
  • Publisher: Raincoast (16 July 2005)

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows arrived at the bookstores worldwide to the delight and disappointment of millions of readers. It was the ending of a beloved series, and it’s undeniable that many wished it could go on for a few more books.

Within the first few chapters of the book, the readers are faced with several dramatic scenes and shocking deaths, so it’s certainly an eventful read. The stakes are higher than ever in this last book, and even the protagonist’s safety can’t be ensured. The battle between the Order of the Phoenix and Voldermort’s Death Eaters comes to an inevitable climax during the Deathly Hallows, and in the end, only one side will prevail.

Review:  The big finale arrived with bells and whistles! The Harry Potter series came to an explosive ending with the Deathly Hallows. There is a reason that it holds the Guinness World Record for most novels sold within 24 hours of release. It surpassed 8.3 million copies sold in the US, adding 2.65 million in the UK. This book was expected with great anxiety by readers all over the world, and it didn’t disappoint. A major criticism that the book faced was that it felt a bit too rushed. It could have been divided into two parts easily. This would have allowed JK Rowling to better develop the plot and focus on the ending with far more details. That being said, it’s still a brilliant ending to a brilliant series.

  • Pages: 607
  • Publisher: Raincoast (21 July 2007)

8. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (JK Rowling)

Harry Potter and the cursed child is an alternative storyline to the original Harry Potter series. Unlike the first seven novels, this story is a play and intended to be enjoyed at the theatre. The story opens up 19 years after the ending of the seventh book. Harry Potter is grown up, married to Ginny and works as Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Magic. The focus of the story is not set on him, but rather the youngest of the couple’s children, Albus Severus Potter. During his first year at Hogwarts, young Albus befriends Draco Malfoy’s child, and worse still, he is sorted into Slytherine. These two facts will be the beginning of a series of misfortunate events, with Albus and his best friend putting the present at risk after messing up with the past.

Review:  The cursed child wasn’t originally a planned book in the Harry Potter series. This is made clear by the stark difference between the characters featured in the first 7 books and this literature piece.

First and foremost, the main difference is the fact that Harry Potter and the cursed child is a play instead of a novel, and it’s divided in two main parts. Secondly, avid readers and long-time fans will be quick to point out that Harry, Hermione and Ron are characterized in a very different way than they were in the original series. 

Though the play has been critically acclaimed, those who only read the script had mixed reactions to the plot. It’s to be noted that the actors and actresses greatly complimented the dialogue and highlighted the best parts, allowing critics to ignore the weaker points in the plot.

  • Pages: 336
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (July 25, 2017)

9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch through the ages (JK Rowling)

Fantastic beasts and where to find them is meant to simulate the textbook belonging to Harry Potter while he studied at Hogwarts. It’s a book mentioned repeatedly in the original series, and offers the reader information on several fictional monsters and creatures.

Meanwhile, Quidditch through the ages is another book that exists within the Harry Potter universe and was penned by Nilworthy Whisp. It’s a popular read among Quidditch aficionados in the wizardly world. 

These books are two of JK Rowling’s many efforts to help those in need. 80% of all profits were donated to aid poor children around the globe. It was framed in the programme Comic Relief, in which celebrities, comedians and writers donate their time and talents to charity.

Both books raised over £17 million by July 2009, and they are still in circulation as for the release of this article.

Review: Both fictional books pretend to be non-fictional volumes that Harry Potter both read and cherished through his stay at Hogwarts. They are funny, witty and entertaining particularly for those with a deep knowledge of the Harry Potter universe. It’s unlikely that these will thrill non-fans, but they are certainly interesting additions to the main series.

Fantastic Beasts was adapted into two different movies, and they turned out to be highly profitable. Eddie Redmayne, the actor who plays the protagonist in the movies, also read the audiobook, adding an interesting element to a fascinating story.

  • Pages: 128 and 56.
  • Publisher: Raincoast (1 December 2001)

10. Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists and Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (JK Rowling)

Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists and Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies were three e-books published at the same time, with no physical versions. They were released in several languages and all are under 90 pages long.

The history of Hogwarts gives the reader a deep and witty look into several objects and rooms in the grand school. It contains fun data about the Hogwarts express, the sorting hats, the Hufflepuff common room and the Great lake. This book also tells stories about several of the school’s ghosts and the many magical objects found in it, like the sword of Gryffindor and the Chamber of secrets.

Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists is a fascinating guide that’ll reveal several interesting details about several key characters in the Harry Potter universe. Among them the reader will find out more about Dolores Umbridge, Horace Slughorn, and Quirinus Quirrell, as well as institutions such as the Ministry of Magic and Azkaban.

Finally, Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies focuses on the many heroes in the potterverse. The reader will discover fascinating information about such thrilling characters as Minerva McGonagall, Remus Lupin, Sybill Trelawney and Silvanus Kettleburn.

Review: Though these ebooks’ content clearly aren’t literary masterpieces, they are entertaining and fun, especially for long-time fans. 

While the books have a few fun surprising details that were not featured in the original books, they weren’t received with great acclaim by the critics. It was quickly noted that much of the information could actually be acquired for free from the official Harry Potter webpage. That being said, for diehard fans who want to own every single piece of memorabilia related to their favorite fictional universe, these books will certainly be a fun addition to their collection.

  • Pages: 80, 66 and 72.
  • Publisher: Pottermore Publishing (September 6, 2016)

11. Harry Potter Complete Series Boxed Set Collection (JK Rowling)

Die hard fans immediately jumped at the idea of having a gorgeous boxed set collection.The series was beautifully illustrated and placed in a large box containing all seven original books. Each volume features a beautiful and unique cover with a different art style than the previous editions.

There are several different options for fans to pick from. The cheapest ones offer a beautiful yet cheaper box, while the more expensive alternatives actually lock all seven books in a wizard-themed chest. It’s mostly a novelty item, as the individual books have the same content, but it’s a pretty addition to the collection of any big Harry Potter fan.

Review: The actual content of the books is the same as the entries 1 to 7 in this list. What changes is the design of both the covers and the illustrations featured. These are gorgeous collections that allow readers to own the entire series with a brand new design. Unless you love collecting and displaying books front and center, you might not need to purchase this box set. 

Though it’s certainly a stunning set, most readers have complained that the box containing the books is flimsy, even in the most expensive alternatives. It seems to be made out of sturdy cardboard. The more common complaint is that readers wish the box was crafted from something harder and more durable. That being said, the design is beautiful, and if placed in a single location without moving it around too much, it shouldn’t tear or break easily. 

  • Pages: 3872 pages
  • Publisher: Depending on the collection.

Harry Potter has undeniably become one of modern literature’s most beloved series. It cultivated the love for books in many young readers and got older audiences to realize that the young adult genre could offer incredible stories. JK Rowling’s creations influenced an entire generation of readers and made an undeniable mark in popular culture. Her work was adapted into movies, video games, amusement parks, and plays, and they remain as popular today as they were 20 years ago.

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