16 July 2005


I suspect this is tired desperation on my part, but here are some obligatory Harry Potter links:
"18 Fantasy Authors to Read Instead of J.K. Rowling" by Ed Champion

"18 More Fantasy Authors to Read Instead of J.K. Rowling" by Gwenda Bond

"Adults Who Read Harry Potter: Yea or Nay?" by Scott Esposito
Alright, that's enough.

I actually don't have anything against the Harry Potter books, as long as they're not touted as the greatest things to ever be printed. I've read the first four, and found the first three of those quite entertaining, particularly the third. The fourth I thought was tedious, but I know 12-year-olds who were riveted. I'll get to the fifth one of these days.

It's fun to see kids excited by books, to see them enchanted by stories and characters. There's something unsavory about scoffing at it all and being a Great Big Grump saying, "Well, child, one of these days you'll realize how much of your life you have wasted on those silly things when you could have been reading a real writer, like Harold Bloom."

Adults are a different story. Nothing wrong with adults reading books aimed at kids (just this week I read Thirsty by M.T. Anderson, which Kelly Link had kindly sent me a while ago, and which is a remarkable book in many ways, with quite a lot more bite than Harry Potter [ugh, sorry]), but I have been frustrated by some friends of mine who've read the Potter books avidly and have then gone on to associate all fantasy novels with kidlit. I gave one a copy of Jeff VanderMeer's Secret Life, because I thought she'd appreciate the variety of stories, the language, the playfulness with form, the seriousness of intent -- and her response was to think the book was for her 13-year-old son. Her loss.

There have been times when I've been asked by people what their kids might like if they like Harry Potter, and the question usually puts me at a loss, because I don't know much about children's literature, and so end up saying things like, "Well, there's always Dante," and getting horrified looks. So here are a few links gathered by Googling the phrase "If you like Harry Potter":
Links to various librarians' lists of books for kids who like Harry Potter

Salt Lake County Library list

Waterboro Public Library list

Neutral Bay Public School list
I'd love to know what people would recommend as the very next book a child or teen should read after they've read all the Harry Potters (adults should just go to Ed and Gwenda's lists). Put ideas in the comments below and in a few days I'll make a list of them all and put it up as a post. (I can just imagine what some people will suggest: Bleak House ... 120 Days of Sodom ... The German Ideology...)