Whether you are a keen Harry Potter reader, just beginning the series, or only now having interest, you likely noticed that the books seem pretty long. It is quite true that none of the books in the series would be considered to be short.
Harry Potter books are long because they are fantasy fiction novels, and fantasy fiction novels tend to be longer than other types of books. The writer has to describe fantastical creatures, characters, events, and places in detail, which typically takes far more pages than the average novel.
If you are curious about the length of Harry Potter books, this article is for you. Read on to find out if the books get progressively longer, which is the longest, and why this genre of books is longer than others.
Reasons the Harry Potter Books Are So Long
Below are the three primary reasons why these books are so long.
Fantasy Fiction Novels Are Famously Long
Writing a novel or a collection of novels based on fantasy versus reality requires a great deal of detail from the writer. The writer must create vivid imagery for the reader. Thus, this genre of books is typically long when compared to other genres.
Fantasy fiction writers must build a world for the reader to enter. These novels can have upwards of 150,000 words, making fantasy fiction considerably longer than other genres.
Romance novels may top out at around 90,000 words. Mystery, romance, and horror novels usually have approximately 80,000 words. Self-help books, on the other hand, will typically have 70,000 words or less; the longest fantasy fiction novel may be twice as long as a self-help book!
Still, the author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, does not rival one of the most well-known authors of our era, Stephen King, an author known for penning long books. His longest is over 1,400 pages long, significantly longer than any of the Harry Potter books.
While the book’s length may seem trivial, it is something all writers should consider and be aware of when writing novels. It would be best if the writer caters to the target audience’s expectations. Writing too much or not enough can drive away readers.
Readers are likely drawn to fantasy fiction because of the escapism of the literature. Literary escapism is imaginative entertainment and can serve as a distraction from reality. World-building is a huge component of effective escapism and takes lots of time and pages.
The Characters’ Growth Leads to Longer Books
Another reason the Harry Potter books are not only long but get progressively longer is because the character grows. Rowling did not write the series over eleven years, leaving the characters the same age all that time. The character ages throughout the series.
The series begins with a young Harry Potter, only 11 years old. By the seventh and final book, he is 17. As Harry grows, he encounters more complex situations as he becomes more and more mature. The series takes readers through an evolution of the character from preteen years to the cusp of adulthood.
The Intended Audience Helps Determine the Books’ Lengths
The intended audience for the Harry Potter series is middle school-aged children, ages 9 to 12, or those in grades four through seven. However, upon the first book’s release, it was quickly beloved by people of all ages.
Generally speaking, books intended for the middle school demographic are substantially shorter than any of the Harry Potter books. Historically, most other books for this group are anywhere from 64 to 150 pages long.
Despite all the Harry Potter books being longer than others for the same target audience, the series has turned out to be some of the best-selling children’s books of all time. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the second-best-selling children’s book of all time.
Five other Harry Potter books also make the list of top ten best-selling children’s books. The only book from the series that did not make the list is the last, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. These books are in the same best-selling category as classics such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Adventures of Pinocchio.
Further, it is possible that the Harry Potter series has led to or influenced the overall increase in the length of children’s novels. Before, people thought that longer stories would not hold children’s attention. Below is a summary of book lengths for middle school-aged children over several decades.
- 1976, approximately 100 pages per book
- 1986, over 140 pages per book
- 1996, around 140 pages per book
- 2006, about 175 pages per book
- 2016, 290 pages per book
Do the Harry Potter Books Get Progressively Longer?
Harry Potter books grow progressively longer as you read them, with one exception. The first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, is the shortest. Books two through five are each longer than the previous book.
The fifth book, The Order of the Phoenix, is the longest in the series, while the sixth is significantly shorter. The seventh and final book, Deathly Hallows, is the second-longest book of the series.
Harry Potter Books and Length
In all, the Harry Potter series includes seven books. The books were published over eleven years, from October 1999 to July 2010. As the stories became more complex, the books grew in length. The total number of pages of seven Harry Potter books is 4,100 pages.
Find out the exact page count of each of these books on our blog post: How Many Pages in Harry Potter? (All Books)
Harry Potter books are rather long. The books get progressively longer, reaching their peak in length with book five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. While the books seem long, they are in line with the average length of other books in the fantasy fiction genre. Despite their length, these popular novels are easy reads.