That Damn Harry Potter

When it comes to Harry Potter, I was a late adopter. For years, I chuckled at the avid readers who camped out at book stores the night before the latest book’s release. My wife is hard to buy for, so when she mentioned half-heartedly that she should read Harry Potter because all of her friends were fans, I bought her the boxed set of the first 6 volumes. She read about 10 pages to humor me, and has not picked them up since.

Months later, looking for something to read one day as I left for the airport, I grabbed the first book of the series from her bedside table. I was instantly addicted, and proceeded to plow through all seven books during the next 4 months. I can’t articulate what is so great about these books, but rarely have I enjoyed reading anything more.

Now, having finished them all, I find myself depressed and empty. I knew this would happen, so I nursed the last two books, never reading more than a little bit at a time. Still, I am left aimless in Harry’s absence. Which is why I turn to you, the blog readers: what should a recovering Harry Potter addict read next to restore meaning to his life?


James

I'd definitely second the recommendations for:

Hughart's _Bridge of Birds_ and _Story of the Stone_: tales of an ancient China that never was, but... oh my, it should have been!

Martin's _Song of Ice and Fire_ for gritty fantasy.

And add, if the descriptions of Ice & Fire sound appealing:

Steven Erickson's series _Malazan Book of the Fallen_; the first title is _Gardens of the Moon_. Densely plotted, character-driven, and intensely original. Be warned, if you don't like unhappy events, the books include a lot of realism, including some all-too-close-to-real-life brutality - much like George R. R. Martin.

Murali

Steve,

As many had suggested you should try "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit", if your haven't read them till now.

1) "Sword of Shannara" and "Voyages of Shannara" series by Terry Goodkind
2) Belgariad & Tamuli series by David Eddings
3) First few books of the "Sword of Truth" series
4) "A Song of Ice and Fire" series by George Martin. Though it doesn't contain magical stuff, still is a good read, pretty different from other fantasy stuff.

Of all the above, you will find the "Sword of Shannara" series pretty similar to LOTR and "Harry Potter"

Happy Reading.

Charlie

Maybe you have already read The Lord of the Rings, but if you haven't, do so now. It will keep you busy for an eternity. That is, if you get crazy and pick up everything that is out there.
- Hobbit
- 3 Lord of the Rings books
- The Silmarillion
- History of Middle Earth; 12 books showing original
writings and different versions of the stories.

Also, pick up any book in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. They are satire fantasy novels. The usual characters of witches, trolls and dwarfs but hilarious and silly. And, there are about 25 of them in the series.

L

Artemis Fowl, Eragon.

dave g

try philip pullmans dark materials trilogy, I was forced to read it whilst waiting for the final HP book and ended up finding them much more enjoyable.

John Squire

From a little further afield, genre-wise, the Ender series from Orson Scott Card. Ender's Game gave me (and my son, years later) the same hook that Harry did. It's a core trilogy with a handful of "connected" books.

AaronS

Levitt,

I read something very interesting in the "Quotable Quotes" section of a recent Reader's Digest: "Life is too short to read good books. Read only great ones."

That was an epiphany for me, as I am one of those avid readers who reads during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, just before bed, etc., if suitable.

And so I began to ask myself what are the truly GREAT BOOKS. I don't know them all, but I know some of them, and am endeavoring to read them all.

Here are the books I am reading so far (not done with them all):

1) The Bible (completed: the central book of Western Civilization...epic stories, truths, ethics, and the miraculous)
2) All the works of Shakespeare (very much in progress)
3) All the works of Plato (not started, but already did some in college philosophy; wish to especially read "The Republic")
4) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Gibbon (can't wait!!!)
5) Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy (acclaimed by most literary critics to be the greatest of all novels--and I have to agree, for I have never read a novel that so truly understood the heart of man)
7) The Stories of O. Henry (completed--the most dashing of short story writers--every one with a great twist)
8) Robinson Crusoe (completed--a wonderous work about the range of human ingenuity, all within a framework of religious devotion)
8) The Stories of Sherlock Holmes (I think I have read it already, but it's been a while, and those stories will seem new to me again--just as O. Henry's)

I have read other classic books not listed (e.g., Huckleberry Finn), and there are certainly more that I should be sure to read. But I figure these provide a very strong foundation in western literature, and will also be a nice little library to pass on to my son.

So, consider, the next time you pick up Harry Potter, that you could be reading Anna Karenina or Henry V, etc.

Love ya, bro!

Read more...

Justin

In general, knowing you liked a given book is not enough to recommend another without knowing more of what made you keep reading.

That said, one of the first things I would toss at a recovering HP addict would be Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy. Evocative setting with interesting characters with a good epic flow.

O. Rodriguez

The Pillars of the Earth is an excellent book. It is an historical novel that takes place during the 12th century AD in England about the building of a cathedral. There are so many characters and fascinating stories behind all of them that it draws you in until you finish it. Not to mention there are some fascinating 12th century economics about church building and the wool futures market etc.

Kjetil Jorgensen

Deviating slightly to graphic novel, you could try the imprints of Fables written by Bill Willingham. A slightly alternate take on the characters of traditional fairytales.

Perhaps Neil Gaiman's Stardust, one of my recent reading-experiences that left me with that empty feeling craving for more when I were done. Or for that matter anything else Gaiman.

Patrick BG

I definitely second the Fables nomination - It's pretty unique as a series in that it switches back and forth between so many different genres, yet somehow retains a consistent tone throughout. Also, it's the best thing ever.

JH

If you want to stick with fantasy, I suggest reading The Lord of the Rings. It has a lot of substance to it, apart from being a wonderful fairy tale.

It's much better if you haven't seen the movies. The same can be said about Harry Potter.

Another good and easy read that's can get you off the Harry Potter high would be Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo. It's an easy read, wonderful story, and a good feeling of satisfaction at the end.

Rachel

They won't eat up much time, but Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were written by Rowling under quirky pen names. They present a bit of interesting background info for fans looking for a quick Potter fix.

Peter

I had a similar experience with a book you are familiar with,

Freakonomics!

I suggest you shift gears entirely and read

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

As I did with Harry Potter I became engrossed while reading it. It has about as much stuff in one volume as the Potter series in seven. At the end of Jest I felt .... different. I can't tell you or it would ruin the joke. I think I am the only one who got the joke, so read it and tell me what you think. I'll give you a hint, the title is the joke, the 1000 plus pages is the punch line.

Stefan Hayden

I suggest either Mortal Engines (about giant cities on wheel that eat each other) or go straight for the Harry Potter fan fiction at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Potter_fandom#Fan_fiction_2

Kent

The Dragon Lance series is a good read.

I would personally just find people that like to talk about the book to get over your depression. It's not hard to find people that like to discuss Harry Potter. Consider it a grief support group.

I had a similar discovery process of the Harry Potter world.

I used to laugh at the idea of reading a kid's book recommended by Oprah, until out of desperation for bathroom reading material while visiting my parents, I picked up "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

I was instantly addicted and much to my wife's dismay, read the first 3 books while on my honeymoon. At the time the first 3 were the only one's out.

I'm glad I read them early because the experience of the midnight releases are some of my favorite memories. Seeing the excitement in young kid's eyes as they celebrated openly about the joy of reading and imagination is completely priceless. I hope the success will be repeated some day.

Read more...

Dave

Aubrey-Maturin Series by Patrick O'Brian. Great writing and characters, interesting and often humorous stories, lots of history, and there are about twenty books in the series so you can go back to the beginning and start over because you will have forgotten the beginning by the time you get to the end.

Jason

Along with lots of other people, I'd say the His Dark Materials trilogy.

Derek

The Bible. This may sound cliche, but the more I read it, the more I want. The good thing is that there is so much to comprehend, you could read it your entire life and still have questions. I wonder if that's why they call it the "good book"...? Anyways, check it out.

WordAngler

Lots of good suggestions. No one has mentioned the
Tales of the Otori series (4 in all) by Lian Hearn. This series takes place in Japan... I couldn't stop reading.

The Word Angler, central PA