At the behest of my good friend Jim Hamilton and after seeing a recommendation from Andrew Peterson, I decided to make my way through the seven books of the Harry Potter series. I just finished the final book today, and I have to say that it was more than worth it. The stories are moving, filled with pathos and triumph. Very few books move me to tears, but these did. I would rate the series right up there with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I know that many Christians have expressed concerns over the years about the magical elements in the Potter series. Nevertheless, I don’t see the magic of Potter to be any different from the magic of Tolkien or Lewis. The magic really isn’t the main point of the story. The primary themes are good vs. evil, love, loyalty, friendship, family, and redemption. In other words, it’s about the stuff Christians care about most. If you come away from these books thinking they are mainly about magic, you’ve really missed the point.
As I have finished each book, I have also been watching the movie versions. While I appreciate the acting and the fine production value in these films, they really don’t hold a candle to the books. Movies are very limited in their ability to recreate the depth of characterization that is possible in a book. Even the best movie adaptations often falter at reproducing complicated plots. There’s simply not enough time. If you really want to know Harry, Ron, Hermione, et al. and if you really want the whole story, you have to read the books. If you want to experience the genius of Beethoven, you’re not going to get it by reading his Wikepedia page. You’re going to have to listen to his music. If you want to experience the genius of J. K. Rowling, you’re not going to get it from the movies. You’ll need to read her books.
As far as fiction goes, I’ve enjoyed these books as much as anything else I have ever read. I hope you will too.
[I listened to the audiobook version of The Potter Series, narrated by Jim Dale. It's a brilliant performance, and the audio version allows you to enjoy the books during the mundane tasks of the day (like your daily commute). You can order them here. The least expensive option, however, would probably be to check them out from your local library.]