Personally, I'm a huge fan of the new-ish 50 Shades of Grey series.

I know it doesn't have anything to do with magic and isn't a fantasy story of any kind, but I do still think it appeals to the same type of audience as Harry Potter...well, maybe not the kids.

But, I'm talking about the young adult crowd.

There's no denying that the series is insanely popular, and all three have been scheduled as movies, with the first one just released a few months ago. The question is, what about these two drastically different series makes them appeal to the same general audience?

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to look at why the books might appeal to the same general demographic: teens and young adults.

 

Shared Themes of Darkness and Self-Discovery

Let's face it, begin a teen/young adult is tough.

You're too old to just follow along with everything your parents, teachers, and professors say, and yet you don't quite know what to do with yourself. Your place in the world often seems small and unimportant, and you need to figure out how to get through.

Trust me, I've been there, and I know that for many it's also a huge battle between "the light and the darkness" to use a cliched idea from literature. That's also exactly why I think that these two series relate so well to each other, and teens can relate to them.

Both series are, essentially, a battle between good and evil, or darkness and light. In Harry Potter, the battle occurs between Harry and Voldemort externally, but it also becomes clear later in the series that the battle is also partly an internal struggle Harry has. This is represented by the fact that Harry and Voldemort are intimately tied together.

In order to succeed, Harry must conquer the darker side of himself, and actually die in order to do so. That is, one must fully destroy the vestiges of who you once were in order to be reborn into someone new.

The same idea floats through Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed. The omnipresent themes are darkness here are expressed more sexually, with the destructive romantic relationship, sado-masochistic concepts, and even rape.

These themes, too, represent a journey to self-discovery and the conquering of one force of oneself over another. How the characters deal with that conflict becomes the driving force behind the works.

If You Haven't Yet: I Recommend a Read of Fifty Shades of Grey

If you're reading this post and you haven't yet read any of EL James' works, I strongly recommend that you do so. Personally, I think that they're well-written, complex, and, as I mentioned above, address a number of the themes that virtually every teen and young adult goes through at some point in his or her own personal development.

You'll be able to relate to the story in one way or another, and it might even shed some light on yourself!

Get the mp3 from Fifty Shades of Grey Audiobooks, or get the book from Barnes and Noble.

What do you think? Do you like 50 Shades of Grey? Send me a note to let me know!

If you've already read the entire Harry Potter series, which I'm assuming you have if you're reading this blog, then I want to introduce you to another great adventure story.

Like HP, this tale also involves magic and a parallel world that runs along right next to our own...or at least could have.

What's the book?

A Game of Thrones!

About The Game of Thrones Series

Also known as Song of Ice and Fire, the A Game of Thrones series was written by author George RR Martin.

Like Harry Potter, there are 7 novels in total, 5 of which have currently been published. Book 6 is slated to come out this spring, so its a great time to start reading the other 5 so you're ready in time!

At any rate, the series takes place in the medieval kingdom of Westeros, an island nation that, not unlike Britain, sits across a channel from a larger continent.

Westeros is divided into various regions, each of which have been brought under the power of "The Iron Throne" to rule as one nation.

After the king is murdered, however, factions break out and old rivalries reignite the kingdom. Add to that a few magical elements - one character can control dragons, another brings forth magic from a devil-like God, and up North mysterious ice zombies threaten to invade the country - and you have a fantastical tale that's both intriguing and fun! Trust me, if you like fantasy, you'll devour these books in no time, and be left wanting more!

Why it's Great

To be honest, I first came across the series a few years ago when HBO debuted their television version of the books. In HBO's Game of Thrones, each season represents 1 book of George RR Martin's series. While the plots follow fairly closely, HBO does take some liberties with the books, and like any film/television version of a novel, you can't possibly capture all of the details and nuances of a great book on screen.

Anyway, my point is simply to say that while I first came across the series because of the tv show, after getting hooked on the first season and went and bought a copy of the books. At that point, only 3 of the 5 (soon to be 7) books were published, and I read them pretty quickly.

The mix of adventure and magic, with great allusions to real medieval history and the vivid setting are a few of the things that really captured my attention and made me love these books. I hope you'll think the same!

Where To Get The Book and Audio

If you are interested in checking out these novels, I recommend you don't download them, but read them in a real book form.

I also really recommend the audio recordings of them, since it lets you live alongside the characters, much as the show does, but with the full details of Martin's original writing.

To get the latest books and listen to the full audio recording, download A Feast for Crows mp3 free or download A Dance with Dragons mp3 free from http://agameofthronesaudiobook.com.

For the book versions, check out GoT on Amazon, as always, which will have the complete series for you.

 

I'm a huge fan of listening to books on tape and audio recordings of my favorite novels, and when it comes to Harry Potter things are no different.

My view is that the best way to truly appreciate any story is to listen to a good narration of it. That allows you to sit back, relax, and just let the story flow through, and always reminds me of what it might have been like to live back in the days of Ancient Greece, with Homer or some other storyteller sitting around the fire weaving a tale of epic proportions.

Well, there's no doubt that Harry Potter is The Odyssey of the 21st century. Like Homer, Rowling has spun a magical tale with mythical creatures around every turn, and you only get a sense of that through the original narration of the book. That's something not even the movies can compete with!

The Best Audio of Harry Potter

In my view, the best narrations of the series were done by Jim Dale. He's one of those great voice artists that you probably have never heard of, but have most certainly heard!

Dale has a sweeping, smooth British accent that cascades through the pages of Rowling's novels. He recorded the complete set a few years ago, and also recorded voices for the Harry Potter video game.

The other option for the series is Stephen Fry, who also does an excellent job, but, in my mind, can't even remotely compare to Jim Dale. Personally, I feel like Stephen Fry's voice is a little too "old papa" and takes on the role of a father reading to his children. While I'm sure that's interesting and advantageous for a lot of people, for me it just isn't my style.

To take things one step further, the best audios are by far in that later books. Deathly Hallows and Half Blood Prince simply have a lot more excitement and mystery to them, and are certainly far more complex and "grown up" than the first few books in the series.

That's another point in favor of Jim Dale, because a fatherly bed time story might be ok for The Sorcerer's Stone, but when it comes time for Harry and Voldemort to face off in the series climax, I'd rather opt for Dale.

There's a great back to back comparison of the two narrators reading that climactic scene in this youtube video, which should give you a good sense of the difference. Listener beware, though, because if you haven't already read the books you don't want to listen to this scene first! Even if you have seen the movies and know what happens, pick a different, earlier clip to compare the two.

You can click here to download the Jim Dale Half Blood Prince audiobook, or click here to download the Jim Dale Deathly Hallows audiobook, free from harrypotteraudiobooks.org.

 

In this post I'm going to give a quick overview of the Harry Potter novels. But don't worry, I'm not going to write out a long drawn out synopsis, because I know you've probably already read all of the books anyway (or at the very least have seen the movies) and because there are already tons of places you can go to find those types of summaries.

Instead, I thought I'd take a minute to write down what I did or didn't like about each of the novels, to help to put them in context for you.

Sorcerer's Stone

The Sorcerer's Stone, also known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, is the first book in the series. It's also one of the easiest to read and most appropriate for a younger audience. One of my favorite parts about the series as a whole is how Rowling seems to adapt the complexity and style of each book to Harry's age, so the books become more sophisticated as Harry grows older.

In the first installment, we're introduced to the world of wizardry that exists just beyond modern-day Britain.

This juxtaposition of a fantasy world within and among our real world is part of the intrigue of the Harry Potter novels, and one of my favorite elements of the book.

Chamber of Secrets

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we begin to see that the "wonderful" world presented in the first novel isn't always as rosy as it may seem. We begin to get a sense that there are internal conflicts among the witches and wizards of Hogwarts, and that a dark history lurks in the recent past, with the introduction of "He Who Cannot Be Named" to foreshadow the events of the later books.

Prisoner of Azkaban

Prisoner of Azkaban is, personally, not my favorite. We're introduced to Sirius Black, Harry's uncle, as he escapes from Azkaban, the maximum security prison. It's in this book that we also get a sense of how there is evil following Harry and agents of Voldemort at work, but the theme and plot aren't yet strong enough to make this a compelling book.

At best, we're told simply to hang in there and anticipate the rest of the series.

Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in the series, is where the series really begins to pick up, at least in my eyes.

That's because after all of the allusions and references to Voldemort we've had throughout the series up to this point, this is the first book where we actually get to meet him face to face, even if only briefly.

It's also the first book that takes a truly dark turn, as we see the first death of a main character. Whereas before the evils were "lighter" instances of trolls and snakes, now we see that there are big stakes at play, as Voldemort regains his power and begins to mount an assault on the wizarding world.

Order of the Phoenix

The Order of the Phoenix picks up right where The Goblet of Fire left off. Harry realizes that he isn't alone in his fight against Voldemort, and there have always been close allies at hand to protect him and help him on his journey.

This is also where Harry begins to train his own army to fight off the evils, after his frustrations with the inability of the government and school authorities to take any meaningful action.

This is the first book where we really see Harry as a leader, and not a child stumbling his way through uncertain events.

Half-Blood Prince

Snape vs. Dumbledore, what else could you want?

Deathly Hallows

Finally, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows provides a long and climactic conclusion to the 7-part series. Harry, Ron, and Hermione realize that many elements of the earlier books are actually tied neatly together, as they've collected a number of trinkets that each house a portion of Voldemort's soul.

They then set off on a quest to find the remaining ones, and Harry realizes that the last is actually himself, and he must face off against Voldemort directly in order to bring an end, once and for all, to the dark wizard.