Ranking the books that I treasured as a child and still am completely obsessed with today is no easy task. Without further ado, here is what felt like a mother ranking her children, the seven Harry Potter books ordered, in my opinion, from worst to best.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD! (Obviously)
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2)
Although there are some definite moments of excitement, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is just not as fast-paced or captivating as the other books to follow or the one that came before it. It’s hard to follow such a remarkable and imaginative first book like The Sorcerer’s Stone. We do learn about the racism between muggles and wizards and experience the history of Hogwarts a bit more. We also meet Dobby, may he rest in peace. Not to mention, we encounter what Voldemort was like as a young boy (arguably a regulation hottie in the movie, FYI). Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is probably the spookiest book of the series. Students and a cat are petrified, we learn of Moaning Myrtle, a student was murdered in a bathroom, there are huge spiders, and there is a snake the size of a subway car. This was definitely a book that I had to read with all of the lights in my house on as a child (and as an adult today, too).
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6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
Once again, this is not a bad book, just not an extreme favorite. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we experience a great parallel story of Harry, Voldemort, and Draco along with the most shocking ending ever of Snape killing Dumbledore. Tensions are extremely high in this book as Hogwarts and the wizarding world itself are on the brink of extinction as Lord Voldemort gets stronger with every day. There is a ton of character development in this book; we see that Draco doesn’t have what it takes to kill Dumbledore after all and that Harry does not have it in him to kill Draco. We get clarification about Tom Riddle’s diary while learning more about his past. The middle of this book can drag a bit which is why it has found itself near the bottom of the rankings. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is very important to setting the stage for the final book, and how much harder it will be for Dumbledore’s army to defeat Voldemort without Dumbledore!
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5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
Many are not a fan of this book because it actually has a happy ending, and to that I say, let Harry be happy! Jeez, after having his parents murdered and years of fighting off Voldemort, he deserves a win! Many also are not fond of the fact that there is a lack of time spent at Hogwarts in this book as Harry, Hermione, and Ron spend much time in hiding and hunting horcruxes. Voldemort’s recollection of the night he murdered James and Lily will send chills down your spine no matter how many times you reread it. The battle scenes that were detailed will make you cry if you have any kind of soul. Dumbledore’s “return” is a pleasant surprise, along with learning of Snape’s true nature after all of these years! Storylines and character arcs are resolved very well and an era ends with tear-stained pages and an immense gratitude to J.K. Rowling for playing a defining role in so many childhoods worldwide.
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4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1)
Reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time will forever be one of my favorite childhood memories. We meet Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, and learn why his survival was so remarkable. Learning about the magical world of witches and wizards is the ultimate escape for children of all ages. It is here that we encounter iconic elements of Harry Potter fandom such as The Hogwarts Express, the Sorting Hat, Hogwarts itself, core characters that we will learn to love like our own family, Gringotts, chocolate frogs, Diagon Alley, and more. The sense of magic and wonder never loses its power throughout the book. It is a wonderful start to a fantastic series and the reason why I just spent $45 for a custom Hogwarts acceptance letter for myself on Etsy yesterday.
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3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)
Many people absolutely despise this book because they become extremely frustrated with Dolores Umbridge, but that is the power of good writing! The reason why this is not even higher on this list is because there is no quidditch, which is the only sport as a Potterhead that I care about. This book is a big turning point for Harry; he is no longer a child, but a young wizard dealing with the problems of the adult world, magical or not. Tons of readers get frustrated with this angst, but the things that Harry is experiencing justifies a little attitude now and then. The birth of Dumbledore’s army will never cease to make me cry as a group of like-minded wizards attempt to prepare for the unknown and take control of their own destinies in the Room of Requirement. Fred and George Weasley have a few surprises up their sleeves as usual, and we get to know Luna Lovegood, the wildly unordinary girl with a heart of gold. “I mustn’t tell lies,” I love this book!
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2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is jam-packed with events that we had never known about before, like the Quidditch World Cup, the Triwizard Tournament and Yule Ball. This is a long book and many had trouble getting through, but its lengthiness is needed in order to set up for the shift from childhood to adulthood. We have to endure the death of Cedric Diggory and the immense guilt that Harry feels because of it. Ron and Hermione have a huge blowout after their feelings for one another are not addressed. We learn in this book that Voldemort is officially back and Hogwarts is no longer a safe place. In other words, shit starts to get real in this book.
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1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3)
This will forever be my favorite book because we meet Lupin, arguably one of the best characters of the entire series. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is very tightly written and has an amazing plot; there are no lulls in the storyline that occur in later books. This is a great book to reread after finishing the series to explain why Snape acts the way he does during the climax of this story with Sirius Black. Dementors are introduced along with the Patronus charm. Our taste buds tingle at the description of butter-beer. We learn more about James and Lily and have to endure Harry’s earliest memories of his parents screaming while they are being attacked by Voldemort. We take away from this book the true meaning of friendship and loyalty and most importantly, how to identify the Peter Pettigrews of our lives.