Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, published in 1997, is the first book in the Harry Potter series and introduces the character of Harry Potter. It’s no secret that this is the book that got a whole generation of children reading, and the book doesn’t disappoint. We learn about Harry’s miserable life living in a cupboard under the stairs in the house of his ghastly aunt and uncle followed by the liberating news that he is a famous wizard and will not remain the downtrodden orphan forever. Leaving the direness of suburbia behind, he goes off to boarding school at Hogwarts.
Stories of English children going to boarding school have been popular fare for generations, and the combination of clever wizarding/magical touches with the boarding school format are a fun backdrop to the various adventures that take place. Unlike later books in the series, it’s not an overly long book, and the audiobook—read by the excellent British actor Stephen Fry—comes in at just under 9 hours and is highly enjoyable, even for the adult listening along.
Note: In the US, the book was published as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which isn’t as good a title. At the time, J.K. Rowling was an unknown writer, and probably not in a position to point out it didn’t make sense.
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