Harry Potter reading advice

I read the first Harry Potter book (in translation) some years ago, and have since seen and enjoyed the first five movies. I’ve never really felt the inclination to read any more of the books, for some reason. Anyway, given the amounts of spoilers I’ve stumbled across since the release of the seventh book, I’ve started thinking about reading the last two books before I learn even more about what happens, instead of waiting years for the last two movies.

So, should I start from the beginning and read books one through five, or should I pick up book six now?

Most people who enjoy them find them to be compelling page-turners. If you did read them in order, and enjoyed them all, it wouldn’t take you long to do.

There are hints and clues throughout the series that link all the books together - a carefully laid out connection. It would be a shame for you to miss out on that, just for expediency’s sake.

I think it’s worth the effort to read them all. If you get to the end of book three and don’t want to read the rest, then no loss. But if you read book four and then wish you’d already read book two, that will just mess your head around.

I recommend picking them up and reading from the beginning. You can blow through book 1 and 2 in a few hours each without missing anything, as they’re written for kids. Plus, they’re really fun to read!

Here’s another vote for reading them all in order. There was definitely some thought put into the planning of these books and they work really well in order. Plus, I felt that by the time I got to the final book, Rowling was expecting that the readers had read everything before it, so there wasn’t as much *last time in Harry Potter…*thrown in.

Another vote for start from the beginning and read them all. With a little effort, you can probably blow through the first three books in a couple of days (the fourth book is the turning point where they become much longer and more in-depth). At that point, you’ll know whether or not the series is for you.

Read the books in order. I’ve seen the first 4 movies and you can’t depend on them to fill you in on everything you need to know. You’ll be reading the sixth book, Dobby will show up and you’ll be asking “why on Earth did the House-Elf from the 2nd movie all of a sudden appear at Hogwarts?” whereas if you read the books it makes perfect sense.

I agree; read them all. Book 7 is totally unforgiving in its assumption that you’ve read everything else in the entire series. It has been a year+ since I read book 6, and that seemed like too long of a gap to keep all of the characters straight when I just read book 7.

My experience was that the first two books were the hardest to get through, because they are so simplistic and childish (in the sense that they are definitely children’s books) and I easily could have given up and thought, “no loss.” I had a specific incentive to keep going because I needed to read the forth book. Otherwise, I would have stopped. I was told too that I had to read the first three or else most of what was in four wouldn’t make much sense. Resigned, I kept going. However, by the end of the third book, I was hooked, 100%. After that I breezed through the books, inhaling them because I couldn’t get enough. I read the first six books in a week and a half.

The funny thing is, after I read seven, I went back and started again from the beginning. I thought I was reading different books. The simplicity and childishness didn’t bother me. In fact, knowing how the story progressed, I was more inclined to pay attention instead of barely skimming to get through them. What I found was that not only are there an amazing amount of clues and important information in the first two books (all the books too, of course) but that I delighted in all the little details and Rowling’s style of writing that seemed irritating to me the first time through.

Don’t worry about all that your first time through the early books, but do get through them. If by the end you’re as hooked as we are, you will actually want to go back and read them again, slower and with more comprehension.

I say read them all, but I will tell you what my husband did. He had read the first two, and maybe the third one years ago (he was studying German at the time, and wanted to practice – the library had copies in German so he picked them up). Recently our niece, who lives with us, wanted to watch all the movies in anticipation of OotP coming out, so we watched one a night and my husband really enjoyed hanging out with us and watching them. He went and saw the movie with me as well. With Tiff and I filling him in on little plot points, and the two of us talking about what might happen in book 7 non-stop, he decided to skip ahead and read books 6 & 7 along with us, because he “just needed to know how it ends”.

Yeah, he missed a lot of little things, even with us filling him in, but he was fine, since he would never be a die hard fan anyway. He also skimmed all Quidditch and relationship stuff, because he didn’t care about that.

So it can be done if what you are wanting is to just know how it ends. But you’ll miss a lot of the delightful little details JKR puts in her books, a lot of the foreshadowing (the whole Aberforth thing seemed way too coincidental to my husband until I told him the bits mentioned in previous books, for example), and some of the charm. So depends on why you are reading them and what you want to get out of it!

I read the first book with my book club and thought it was OK, but wasn’t blown away, and didn’t feel a compelling need to rush right out and read the others. Then my wife got hooked on them and read them all, as fast as they came out. Eventually I saw the movies, in order, and decided I wanted to read the books too, after all. We’ve been reading them aloud with our eldest son, who’s now 10, in order (we’re about 300 pages into Deathly Hallows, at the moment), and have found that to be a wonderful experience together.

Count this as another vote for reading all of the books, in order.