The enchanting world of Hogwarts, unforgettable characters like Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the spine-tingling adventures they embark on, the epic battle between good and evil – these are just a few elements that have made the Harry Potter series an everlasting phenomenon among readers of all ages.
What if you’ve already turned the last page of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, yet you’re not quite ready to let go of that bewitching universe? Don’t fret, because the literary world is brimming with captivating stories waiting to be discovered.
This article aims to guide you through a collection of books that, while may not take place in Hogwarts, certainly possess the ability to cast a spell on your imagination just as J.K. Rowling did. If you’re an adult who found the Harry Potter series enthralling, these books are selected with you in mind. Whether it’s the allure of a fantastical universe, the thrill of a mystery waiting to be unraveled, or the captivating journey of characters growing up and discovering their potential, we’ve got you covered.
So grab a butterbeer (or a more ‘adult’ drink, if you prefer) and get ready to embark on a literary journey through magical realms, mysterious adventures, and poignant coming-of-age narratives.
It’s time to step onto platform 9 ¾ once more, but this time, we’re venturing beyond the world of Harry Potter.
Understanding the Magic of Harry Potter
The Harry Potter series isn’t just about witchcraft and wizardry, it’s about friendship, bravery, love, loss, and the grey areas in between. It’s a series that, despite being categorised as children’s literature, offers substantial depth and complexity in its narrative and characters. Let’s delve into what makes Harry Potter enchanting to its adult readership and the criteria we’re using to recommend our book list.
The Appeal of Harry Potter to Adults
A cursory glance at Harry Potter might lead one to believe it’s merely a children’s series about a young wizard’s adventures. However, delve deeper, and you’ll find themes of sacrifice, identity, societal structure, morality, and much more that resonate with adult readers. The series matures with its characters, shifting from lighter, more whimsical plots to darker, more intricate storylines.
Adults find themselves relating to the characters as they navigate through the trials and tribulations of life, their experiences of love and loss, and their perseverance in the face of adversity. Harry’s world is full of moral dilemmas and ethical questions that don’t merely entertain but provoke thought and reflection.
Qualities of the Recommended Books
In recommending books for adults who loved Harry Potter, we’ve considered several key factors that made the series appealing:
- Complex Characters: Characters who are not just black and white but live in shades of grey. Characters with their own strengths, flaws, dreams, and fears that make them relatable and real.
- Engaging Plots: Stories that are not just about magic but also explore deep, profound themes, have plot twists, and that can immerse and surprise the reader, just as the Harry Potter series did.
- Elements of Fantasy and Mystery: The books will have a sense of magic, wonder, and mystery, the key elements that define the Harry Potter series.
- Strong Friendships and Relationships: Relationships that are authentic, evolve over time, and impact the characters and their stories.
- A Balance of Light and Dark: Books that, like Harry Potter, contain elements of both whimsy and danger, joy and tragedy, hope and despair.
As we move through the book recommendations in this post, keep these factors in mind. They will help guide you towards finding your next magical read!
Expanding the Fantasy Genre
As we step out of Hogwarts and into new realms, we first find ourselves still within the comfortable territory of the fantasy genre. As the genre that birthed Harry Potter, fantasy offers a plethora of books packed with otherworldly creatures, fantastical settings, and magical systems. In this section, we’ll explore adult fantasy books that offer complex themes and mature characters while still sparking that sense of wonder and adventure that you loved in the Harry Potter series.
A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
Taking a turn towards the gritty, George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series is a sprawling epic that’ll keep you hooked. The series offers an intricate web of characters and plotlines that make the politics of Hogwarts seem simple. Its blend of political intrigue, complex characters, and an ever-looming magical threat make it an engrossing read for any Harry Potter fan seeking something a bit more mature.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss is the first installment in The Kingkiller Chronicle series. It follows the story of Kvothe, a gifted wizard telling his life story. The series brilliantly incorporates elements of magic, lore, and bildungsroman. Much like Harry, Kvothe attends a school of magic, where he navigates friendships, rivalries, and challenging professors. The elegant prose and captivating plot make this a must-read.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman is a fascinating blend of mythology, fantasy, and Americana. The story follows Shadow, a man caught in the middle of a war between the gods of old myths and the new gods of modernity and technology. Gaiman’s imaginative storytelling and richly drawn characters offer a reading experience that is both thrilling and thought-provoking.
Each of these books offer elements reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, from complex character arcs to fantastical world-building. Yet, they also tread new territory, exploring themes and styles that can provide a refreshing reading experience.
Venturing into Magical Realism
Now that we’ve explored the realm of fantasy, it’s time to tiptoe into a genre that beautifully marries the ordinary with the extraordinary: magical realism. This genre seamlessly weaves elements of the fantastical into otherwise ordinary lives and settings. For Harry Potter fans who appreciated the way magic coexisted with the ‘muggle’ world, these magical realism novels can offer a fresh perspective.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
A pillar of the magical realism genre, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez, tells the story of the Buendía family over seven generations. The novel, set in the fictional town of Macondo, is a tapestry of dreams and realities intertwined. The way magic pervades the everyday life in Macondo could evoke the similar enthralling feeling that the wizarding world existing parallel to the muggle world does in Harry Potter.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman is a modern exploration of magical realism. The story follows an unnamed narrator who returns to his childhood home and recalls a series of extraordinary events from his youth involving a young girl named Lettie Hempstock and a pond she claimed was an ocean. The narrative mixes a sense of nostalgia and fantasy reminiscent of Harry Potter, but with a decidedly more adult perspective.
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
“Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie is a blend of historical fiction and magical realism. It tells the story of Saleem Sinai, born at the stroke of midnight on the day of India’s independence, who finds himself possessing telepathic powers. This intricate narrative weaves together themes of identity, destiny, and the blur between the magical and the mundane, offering a rich and complex reading experience.
These magical realism books hold the power to enchant, surprise, and move you, just as the Harry Potter series did. But they’ll also introduce you to new styles of storytelling and new ways to perceive the world around us.
Diving into Mystery and Adventure
Every Harry Potter book carried within it a central mystery that kept readers turning pages late into the night. Whether it was the identity of the Half-Blood Prince or the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling understood how to weave suspense and adventure into her magical tale. If you found those elements of the series engaging, you might enjoy diving into novels that, while not based in a magical world, offer riveting mystery and adventure.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is the first book in the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson. It’s a thrilling blend of mystery, intrigue, and a hint of conspiracy as journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander investigate a disappearance. While it doesn’t contain magic, its intricate plot and compelling characters provide a reading experience that’s hard to put down.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” combines mystery, adventure, and a dash of historical and religious intrigue. The story follows symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu as they unravel a cryptic puzzle that leads them through a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci. The multi-layered mystery and the high-stakes adventure may remind you of the thrill of the Harry Potter series.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
“And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie is a classic mystery novel that delivers suspense in droves. Ten strangers are invited to a remote island, only to be picked off one by one in line with a chilling nursery rhyme. While a departure from the magical world of Harry Potter, Christie’s mastery over suspense and intrigue can satisfy those who loved the mystery elements of the Harry Potter series.
Dive into these gripping narratives that take you on a roller coaster ride of suspense, intrigue, and heart-pounding moments. Remember, magic can be found in the most unexpected places, even within the heart of a mystery.
Exploring Coming of Age Stories
One of the key elements that made Harry Potter resonate with millions worldwide was its coming of age narrative. We grew up with Harry, Hermione, and Ron. We witnessed their trials, their growth, and their journey from children grappling with a larger world, into adults ready to face it. If this aspect of the Harry Potter series resonated with you, these coming of age novels might just be your next favorite reads.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger is a classic coming of age tale that delves deep into the angst, isolation, and struggles that come with adolescence. The story follows the experiences of sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield in the days following his expulsion from prep school. Although devoid of magic, Salinger’s novel captures the universal experience of grappling with growing up.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a modern coming-of-age story that deals with themes of identity, belonging, and the pain and joy of growing up. Told through a series of letters written by the protagonist, Charlie, the novel explores the highs and lows of adolescence in a way that’s both heartwrenching and heartwarming.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is a profound coming-of-age story embedded within a narrative that grapples with themes of racism and moral injustice. Through the eyes of young Scout Finch, readers experience the loss of innocence as she and her brother Jem begin to understand the complexities and contradictions of the adult world.
These novels, while not magical in the literal sense, hold a magic of their own — the magic of growing up, of self-discovery, and of understanding the world around us. So, if you enjoyed witnessing Harry’s journey from boyhood to manhood, these books might be the perfect fit for your reading list.
Following the Hero’s Journey
At the heart of Harry Potter is the hero’s journey – a classic narrative archetype where a hero is called to adventure, faces trials, and eventually returns transformed. If you loved Harry’s journey from an ordinary boy living under the stairs at Privet Drive to the saviour of the wizarding world, you might appreciate these books that beautifully illustrate the hero’s journey.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit content in his comfortable, unadventurous lifestyle, who is thrust into a quest full of danger and discovery. As Bilbo encounters dragons, goblins, and other threats, he undergoes a transformation that echoes the hero’s journey archetype.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho is a story about a young shepherd named Santiago who embarks on a journey in search of a worldly treasure. The novel is a poignant exploration of self-discovery and destiny, presenting a metaphorical hero’s journey where the greatest treasure often lies within.
Dune by Frank Herbert
“Dune” by Frank Herbert is a science fiction novel that tells the story of Paul Atreides, whose family controls the desert planet Arrakis. As Paul navigates political intrigue and an alien environment, he embarks on a hero’s journey that reshapes him and the fate of a whole galaxy.
These novels, each in their unique way, follow the transformative journey of their protagonists, much like Harry’s journey in the Harry Potter series. These narratives remind us that sometimes, the most significant adventures can start in the most unlikely places.
Embracing Young Adult Novels
While we’ve recommended a number of books written primarily for adult audiences, there is a wealth of young adult (YA) literature that, much like Harry Potter, transcends age boundaries with their appeal. These YA novels deliver complex themes, character development, and captivating storylines that adult readers can appreciate.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins is a dystopian novel that follows the story of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl forced to participate in a deadly competition as a form of entertainment and control by her society’s rulers. The novel’s themes of survival, morality, and power dynamics offer a rich and engaging read for adults.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak is a historical novel set in Nazi Germany, narrated by Death. The story follows Liesel Meminger, a young girl who finds solace in stealing books and sharing them with others. Despite being categorized as a YA novel, The Book Thief explores themes of war, mortality, and the power of words, resonating deeply with adult readers.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry is a dystopian novel that explores a society where sameness and conformity are valued above all else. The story follows a boy named Jonas who is chosen to receive memories of the world before sameness was implemented. The novel’s exploration of memory, individuality, and societal structure provides ample substance for adult readers to chew on.
These young adult novels, despite being targeted towards a younger audience, provide compelling narratives and themes that can captivate and resonate with adult readers, much like the Harry Potter series. So, if you loved the depth and nuance that J.K. Rowling brought to her ‘children’s books’, these YA novels may offer the same richness and reliability.
Conclusion: Discovering Your Next Favorite Book
Discovering your next favorite book after finishing a series as captivating as Harry Potter might seem daunting. However, the world of literature is vast and varied, and there are countless books out there that can spark the same sense of joy, wonder, and deep engagement that the Harry Potter series offered.
Remember that part of the magic of reading is the journey of discovery. It’s about stepping into a new world, meeting new characters, and seeing life from different perspectives. So, whether you choose to dive into another sprawling fantasy epic, unravel a gripping mystery, or explore the nuanced complexities of coming of age, there’s a whole world of stories waiting for you.
Happy reading, and may your next literary adventure be as magical as your journey through the halls of Hogwarts.