It’s about to get real. So many people have strong feelings about the Harry Potter series, myself included. One of my favorite discussions is finding out which of the Harry Potter books is someone’s favorite and which is their least favorite. Harry Potter was such a huge part of my childhood. I went to three midnight book releases and four midnight movie releases. I dressed up as Hermione for countless Halloweens and was extremely disappointed the year I turned eleven because an owl didn’t show up with a handwritten letter from Professor Dumbledore.
You’re not going to want to read this if you haven’t read the books. Also, if you haven’t read the books, what the fuck are you doing with your life? Get to it.
So, here’s my definitive ranking of the Harry Potter series. Prepare for babbling.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
When I was 9 or 10, my mom came home with the third Harry Potter book. She said that everyone was going crazy for the series and she thought that I’d like it. For some reason, she didn’t realize that it wasn’t the first book in the series. But it didn’t really matter. In the first four books, J.K. Rowling did a good job of making the beginning chapters explanatory. I didn’t even notice that it wasn’t the first book until I finished it. It’s also the book I’ve re-read the most. I think my paperback copy is also missing a couple of pages because it’s been beat up over the years.
But the reason why I like it so much is that Harry finally finds a little bit of family. Plus he’s growing up a little and isn’t quite just a little boy anymore. I love the dementors as an evil entity because it’s really just the physical form of fear itself. Lupin is also one of the best characters in the book and Harry’s first real father figure. I love the twist of Peter Pettigrew being Scabbers and how Sirius didn’t betray the Potters and the Time Turners! And how Hermione used a wizard version of a time machine to take more classes. What a NERD I LOVE HER. And Buckbeak! And Hermione slapping Malfoy (she punches him in the movie, but slaps him in the book). Oh and how could I possibly forget Aunt Marge and Professor Trelawney?!
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is just pure gold and it will forever be my favorite part in the series.
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This is the second book in the series I read. YEAH, I went 3, 4, 1, 2 while I waited for the fifth book to come out. Don’t hate on me. Hashtag respect my journey.
The third book and the fourth are a close first and second for me. There are so many fabulous things about the fourth book that I’m just going to put it all in one paragraph and you’re just gonna have to deal with it.
The Quidditch World Cup and the camping wizards and the guy who likes a breeze around his privates. The House Elves, especially Winky and Dobby and how Hermione wants to free them all. OH AND DOBBY’S SOCKS. How the twins guessed the ending of the World Cup and their Ton-Tongue Toffees (lol Dudley). The Triwizard Tournament and how Krum is still a student and Ron wanting his autograph and Hermione going with Krum to the Yule Ball. Ron asking Fleur to the ball and failing. The twins thinking an aging potion will fool Dumbledore (it’s the only time they’ll ever see each other as old men oh my god I’m going to cry forever). Even though Lord Voldemort is evil, I can appreciate his genius plot to get a body and OH MY GOD MAD-EYE MOODY. How could I forget him and his “CONSTANT VIGILANCE.” I love that it’s really Barty Crouch…JUNIOR. I’m still sad about Cedric and that the fourth book sets up a pattern of someone close to Harry dying at the end of the books. The Sphinx in the middle of the maze! Hagrid and his Blast-Ended Skrewts. There are so many great things in the 4th book that it’s actually difficult for me to list it as number 2, but Prisoner of Azkaban has my heart forever.
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The first book is about as good as a first book of a series can be. It’s a really quick read and it sets up all of the characters so well. The best part is being able to see the wizarding world through Harry’s young eyes and appreciating the magic of it all. Everything is new and shiny and it always tugs at my heartstrings when Hagrid comes to take Harry to Hogwarts. I love how persistent the hundreds of owls are in bringing Harry’s letters, when it really would’ve just been easier to send one of the professors (looking at you, Albus) to explain to the Dursleys and Harry what was up. But perhaps Dumbledore just wanted to bombard Number 4 Privet Drive with thousands of letters just to see the Dursleys freak out.
I love how Hagrid gives away secrets and he named his three headed dog Fluffy and he tries to raise a dragon is one of the most flammable homes ever (how many times did Hagrid’s hut catch fire in all of the books?). I love how Harry though that Wood was the name of a cane that McGonagall was going to beat him with. The Mirror of Erised and all of its mysteries. Harry getting presents for Christmas for the first time and Mrs. Weasley knitting him a sweater even though she only met him briefly (oh god how I love Mrs. Weasley and her kind and loving heart). Everyone is still innocent in the first book and while Harry fights Voldemort again (OMG I also love how Voldemort is coming out of Quirrell’s head. That was such a good twist), he doesn’t have the same brooding darkness that he gets in the later books. For now he’s still a child. A child that has had to grow up too quickly, but he retains most of his innocence, I think.
4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
When I first read the fifth book, I was so annoyed at Harry. “Blah blah blah I’m so angsty why doesn’t anyone listen to me or tell me anything I’m not a child I’m fifteen.” I re-listened to the audiobook over the summer and I gained new appreciation for the book and how Harry felt. Sure, I still hated to hear him whine about how no one told him anything, but I could see why he was upset and I was so glad when people put him in his place.
The thing that I truly loved the most about Order of the Phoenix is Professor Umbridge. I love to hate her. She’s a perfect character and she’s incredibly nuts. It’s so satisfying to see read about her being carried away by centaurs. Hermione standing up to her and reading the entire Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook and telling Umbridge her opinion is so great. Ah! And Dumbledore’s Army and Cho Chang crying all over Harry. Hermione and her magical coins and the hexed sign up sheet. Dumbledore easily getting away from Aurors and Fudge. Everything about the Department of Mysteries makes me sad and it’s one of my least favorite Harry Potter chapters ever. Sirius didn’t deserve to die and Harry didn’t deserve to have the closest thing he had to a relative taken away. I think it’s pretty great that Professor Trelawney is the Seer who made the prophecy about Harry and Lord Voldemort though! OH, and seeing Professor Lockhart again is pretty much one of the best parts of the book. And of course it got left out of the movie.
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Do you know how difficult it is to make this list? I can see my Harry Potter books sitting on my bookshelf behind me. Judging me. Wondering why I must hurt them this way.
There are a lot of things I love about The Deathly Hallows. I love that we discover Harry has had one of the Hallows this entire time. I love that there’s a radio show of the resistance. Bill, Fleur, and their Shell Cottage. Learning about the wands. The epilogue (except did Ginny not have any say in her own goddamn children’s names? What the fuck Harry? Should this book have been called Harry Potter and the Deathly Patriarchy?). Learning about Snape (doesn’t excuse his dickhead behavior for the previous 6 books though. I still don’t like him and he’s a dick to children. I don’t care if he tried to keep Harry safe because he loved Lily, he holds a lot of hate in his heart and took it out on children). NEVILLE killing Nagini and leading the resistance in the school is pretty awesome. “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!”
Things I hate about Deathly Hallows: Fred dying. Moody dying. Tonks and Lupin dying. Harry, Ron, and Hermione just aimlessly wandering around for a while (side note: Hermione’s beaded bag is one of my favorite things possibly ever and also #travelinglightgoals). Dobby dying. The trio making Griphook help them and trying to trick him into not getting the sword right away. Ron’s whining about the lack of food and yet not doing much to help the situation. The chapters during which they trade wearing Slytherin’s locket and they’re all cranky.
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The reason this book is so low on the list (it’s a coincidence that the sixth book is also six on my list) is that I’m constantly annoyed at Harry for being obsessed with Malfoy. Yes, Malfoy was doing bad things that ultimately led to a bunch of Death Eaters entering Hogwarts, but Harry is just really annoying about it all. OMG, he’s also annoying about the Half-Blood Prince’s book and trying the mysterious spells he finds in there (helloooo, he almost ripped Malfoy to shreds). Also Dumbledore dies and I hate that.
Things I really love about the sixth book: Professor Slughorn and his Slug Club. Ginny being really good at hexes and an all around badass. Side note: Movie Ginny got shafted and is nowhere near as amazing as Book Ginny. It’s a great injustice. The idea of the Vanishing Cabinets connecting and acting as a passageway. My favorite part of the sixth book is finding all about Lord Voldemort and why he does what he does. Plus the whole idea of Horcruxes is fascinating.
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Okay listen. Before you get all pissed that Chamber of Secrets is at the bottom of my list, let me just say that A. One of the books had to be at the bottom of the list. B. I really hate snakes.
I hate snakes so much that every time I read Chamber of Secrets I would bite my lip relentlessly. There are actual blood stains on some of the pages.
Some things I really love about the second book: Hermione is the one who figures out how the basilisk is moving around the school. Professor Lockhart and his bravado. Harry losing all of the bones in his arm because of Lockhart. Lockhart losing his memory. Poor Ron and his broken wand. The way those two idiots flew the car to school when they couldn’t get on the train. Everything about Dobby and how Harry helps free him with his sock and Riddle’s diary. I love that Ginny is the one who opened the Chamber because definitely no one saw that coming.
Things I hate about The Chamber of Secrets: SNAKES.
So there you have it. My ranking of all the Harry Potter books. This was fun and yet painful to write. Because even though I prefer some of the books over the others, I still love the entire series with all of my heart. All of the books are very special to me. When I first went to college, I couldn’t fathom leaving them behind so I brought all seven with me. Those books mean home for me and even though they’re falling apart and I’ve lost the dust jackets for books 4-6, I cherish them.