“Why would I want to read a children’s book?” Him Indoors remarked, smugly, quoting some comedian who also hasn’t read the books.
How many copies now? 450 million? That’s more than … well, almost anything. The Lord of the Rings has sold 150 million copies; A Tale of Two Cities over 200 million.
Harry Potter is, quite neatly, Dickens meets Tolkein, and not a lot else. Sure, it borrows heavily from ancient myths and has quite unsubtle anti-Nazi allegory running through it. It takes a bit here and there from Narnia and has the sly, off-beat humour of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. Mostly, though, it’s just Dickens’ David Copperfield with 20% more Sauron.
Sometimes – like David Bowie – the reason something’s popular is just because it’s good.