I created a coping mechanism for muggles in denial: a Harry Potter Reading Map. I wanted to create a reading map that was as universally appealing as possible, so I decided to choose the most widely read contemporary series I could think of: Harry Potter. This story/character driven series appeals to readers of all ages and most interests. I think one of the best things about the Harry Potter series is the amazingly depth of the diverse secondary characters. As much as we love Harry, Ron, and Hermione, many Harry Potter fans wish that they could read books that focused on other characters – like Luna Lovegood, Molly Weasley, or Lupin and Tonks. I have created a reading map to suggest fantasy materials that feature characters (or that embody the tone of the character) similar to 8 different secondary characters from Harry Potter. Each page contains a short 3-sentence summary of the character, and at least 3 annotated book suggestions. Most of the materials suggested are novels I discovered through advanced searches in NoveList (combining appropriate appeal factors and the limiter “Adults”), however I also included a graphic novel, 3 non-fiction books, a cafe, a band, a musical, and a flash animation, selected based on Amazon reviews and/or personal experience with each.
When deciding which secondary characters to focus on I considered popularity, uniqueness, and appeal. For example I included Fred Weasley because he is probably to most loved of all the light-hearted, humorous characters. As a result decided not to include other humorous characters like Nearly-Headless Nick or George Weasley, because the category of “Humorous Fantasies” was already filled. I didn’t include any universally hated characters, such as Rita Skeeter, Doris Umbridge, or Voldemort, because I wouldn’t expect many people to click on those links or be interested in the suggestions. Although some of the most well-loved characters are interesting, not all of them corresponded well with a type of fantasy story. I would have loved to include Hagrid, however I had trouble thinking of a sub-genre of fantasy that would make sense for a loveable, yet sometimes gruff and ignorant giant. The more complex the character was, the more difficult it was to include them in the map.
Although limited to the characters in the series, I was able to create a diverse reading map that may encourage readers to try a type of book they’d never thought of before. The 8 categories are: flirtatious magic realism love stories, intellectual fantasies, paranormal romances, humorous fantasies, mythical creature protagonists, character-driven stories featuring fierce magical mothers, character-driven stories featuring quirky magical women, and “magical surprises” (stories about regular people who suddenly discover magical powers). Four of the categories are sorted by the type of story, while the other four are sorted by the type of protagonist. When selecting books for the protagonist categories, I considered not only the protagonist’s similarity to the Harry Potter character, but also the compatibility of the tone. For example, the books in Mrs.Weasley’s section feature fierce magical mothers, but they also are written with an intensity and tender depth that fans of the character will appreciate. The books in Luna Lovegood’s section feature quirky magical women, but they are also language-based and contain many strange whimsical elements that Luna-like readers will enjoy.
In the end I think I’ve created a highly useful and fun tool that will appeal to a wide range of readers. While rereading Harry Potter can be a lot of fun, discovering new books is even better.
Have you read any of the books on my reading map? Let me know what you thought in the comments!