Unlike either of the two Matts, I’m actually inclined to be a little sympathetic to Ron Charles’ argument. There is something a little awry when intelligent, literate people read only Harry Potter and not other books that are not only better, but that they might actually enjoy more.
That being said, Matt (the older one) has a point. Even if you agree with Charles’ basic thesis, there’s no reason to be a dick about it. Instead, it’s better to take a positive approach and recommend some good books.
So I’m going to take this opportunity to strongly recommend three other book series. All three are sci-fi or fantasy and all three are, like Harry Potter, quick, addictive reads.
The first one is pretty light fair, but if you’re reading Harry Potter I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re not a snob about reading popcorn literature. The Harry Dresden Files by Jim Butcher have been called Harry Potter for grown-ups a lot, but the tone is too different for that title to really fit – it’s a lot more film noir and with a sharper sense of humor. Still, it’s got the quick pace, convoluted mythology and addictive quality of the best Harry Potter books – just with a noir twist, a bit more of a wink and nudge, and much better characterization. Just don’t watch the awful Sci-Fi channel adaptation.
For dark fantasy with a little bit more meat on its bones (and some political undertones that any liberal blogger would appreciate) you can’t get much better than China Miéville’s books about the twisted steampunk landscape of Bas-Lag, starting with Perdido Street Station. For people who find Rowling’s fantasy creations a little too derivative this is a demented, inventive acid trip.
Richard K Morgan also writes some of the best politically themed speculative fiction out there. Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Woken Furies are gritty, bloody, furious future noir masterpieces. Like Miéville, Morgan’s got a particular interest in leftist politics – his book Market Forces is what would happen if Noam Chomsky wrote the script for Mad Max.