Popular Novels

I finished reading Harry Potter today and it was a reasonably enjoyable read. I like to read stories which I’m not interested in if they are popular, to discover any reasons that the book might be popular. I’m aware that a book’s popularity may simply be chance but it’s better to be open about the possibilities. In this case, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has a number of good qualities.
It is simple to read, simple enough for children six years old and up, depending on the child’s reading level, and the characters are also quite simple. Each character is quite distinct, almost clichéd in their level of good or bad, rich or poor, nervous or brave. They have certain traits which make them easy to distinguish, from Hagrid’s speech to Snape’s perpetual gloom to Hermione’s bookworm persona, and this does make reading more enjoyable. These simple characters are both a reason that the novel is not going to be known as a literary classic and why it is going to be a popular fan favourite.

It’s also notable that the novel avoids anything that could offend. I’m aware that people may say Harry Potter is a children’s book and shouldn’t contain controversial things, but culturally, Harry Potter is not a children’s book, it is a children’s book that is read by just as many adults. To me it is fine to assess it like any other book. With this in mind, there’s no real violence, nothing about romantic relationships and the people who are within the story may be horrible people but they are not evil, they aren’t Patrick Bateman, they are unpleasant.

The plot is well-worn but solidly constructed. Outsider taking the reader into a new world. Downtrodden person who is destined for greatness and overcomes the bigotry of those in better positions. There are sufficient ups and downs to maintain tension. The plot is surprisingly tight, with everything that seems to be a side plot finally coming together in the end, each being necessary to resolve the problem of the philosopher’s stone. The novel maintains the sense of increasing wonder as we further explore the world of Hogwarts and though I wouldn’t normally pick up a book like Harry Potter and didn’t as a child, it was an enjoyable read.

Harry Potter’s the first of these smash-hit novels that I’ve tried which has genuinely good aspects to it. To me, it’s in a different place to novels like Twilight or Fifty Shades, which relied heavily on their subject matter and had many technical problems with the writing. It is interesting, simple and well-written. Harry Potter is the kind of book which should be popular.

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