We all know the story by now. A struggling, single mother sits on a train. There’s nothing particularly extraordinary about her until the moment when a young wizard with black hair and glasses walks into her head. It’s almost as famous as the story that she would then write. 20 years ago, today, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released. For many of us, it’s hard to imagine the world without it– like a world without trees. Since then, there have been seven more books (including The Tales of Beedle the Bard), nine movies (including Fantastic Beasts), a West End play, and millions of people around the world captured and inspired by the story of Harry Potter.
For me, the course of my life as a student has been shaped by Harry Potter. Essays and classes and stories, all occurring because I both love Harry Potter and because it is gaining traction as a literary work. It’s not fully there yet– a quick search on JSTOR shows mostly reviews and articles discussing the Harry Potter Phenomenon, and a few discussing the works label it as Popular Fiction– but it’s clear that they’re not going away. As my particular wheelhouse is comparative literature, I have read lists and lists of those “Books You Should Read After Harry Potter” articles but none of them really grabbed me. Sure, Percy Jackson and A Series of Unfortunate Events are fantastic series, but the lists themselves are more “You liked Harry Potter? Have some more YA”. They don’t really have anything to do with Harry Potter.
These books do. I’m not going to be talking about as many things as I normally do in my list posts, but as someone who could fill entire blogs with literary study on Harry Potter, these are some good places to start.