Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books behind the Hogwarts Adventures
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Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books behind the Hogwarts Adventures

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  810 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Harry Potter. The name conjures up J.K. Rowling's wondrous world of magic that has captured the imaginations of millions on both the printed page and the silver screen with bestselling novels and blockbuster films. The true magic found in this children's fantasy series lies not only in its appeal to people of all ages but in its connection to the greater world of classic l...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Berkley Trade
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I've never read the Harry Potter novels. However, I've read "dissect famous English literature to see how they work" books before and found them fascinating, so I was interested when I got this unrequested review copy in the mail. The author based his selection of comparison books on books mentioned by J.K. Rowling in interviews or simply by their strong similarities to her novels on certain points. He didn't get his information directly from Rowling and sometimes even argued against her claims...more
Okay, I admit it - I love Harry Potter. I have the books in both the American and British editions (yes, there are differences). Though I had never heard of this book, when I received it for Christmas I was excited because it looked right up my alley. Written by a professor, this book takes a look at the literary influences on the beloved series, both those that J.K. Rowling acknowledges and those she has not. Granger takes a systematic approach, tackling surface meaning, moral meaning, allegori...more
Having read the Harry Potter series numerous times, I thought it would be a good idea to read a book like this one — that dissects the Potter stories and shows their connections to other works of literature from which Rowling drew (in some cases) inspiration. Granger teaches about Harry Potter to college students, so reading this book sort of felt like I was in school again, tackling a reading assignment...except I didn't have to take a test or do any homework afterward.

Jo Rowling has said that...more
The positive first: aside from the attention to Austen and Bronte which I find fascinating, the author discusses more interesting works that Rowling alludes to. There's Tom Brown, the Bible, Dorothy Sayers, Wide Saragasso sea and more. However, there was much summary of the works, a superficial treatment of themes and motifs and little else. Having done in-deptha analyses of her Austenian allusions, as well as the Narnia connections I think much more could have been done. Moreover, he misses out...more
This book was completely fascinating to me, and my first thought upon finishing it was that I needed to read it again. Granger basically uses this book to answer the question: Why are the Harry Potter books so popular? But he does so much more than that. He discusses literary traditions and devices that have been used for a long time, citing examples in a wide array of 'Great Books'. He talks about what the symbolism means, and why it resonates with us as human beings. He talks about the extensi...more
Adam Ross
Pretty good. Granger, an English prof, works to unveil some of the allusions and connections to broader literature in the Potter novels. While the English Major in me wanted more close readings of the various texts, the book serves as a solid introduction for the general reader to the incredible literary worth and depth in the Potter saga. Granger paints a picture both fascinating (Snape as Wuthering Heights' Heathcliff and Paradise's Dante) and disturbing (Order of the Phoentix as secret societ...more
May 25, 2013 Angie rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Harry Potter scholars
I had mixed feelings about reading this book. My first reaction was "Harry Potter, YAY!!!!" but then I thought about all the books I studied in college and how scholarly analysis tends to take the fun out of reading. I couldn't stand it if that happened to Harry Potter. However, after listening to several episodes of MuggleNet's Alohomora! podcast and enjoying it immensely, I decided to risk it and read this book.

While a little bit dry in places (some of those sentences seriously went on for abo...more
Claudia Piña
Aunque he leido otros libros del tipo (como The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy: Hogwarts for Muggles y The Psychology of Harry Potter: An Unauthorized Examination Of The Boy Who Lived), siempre me dejan con la sensación de que alguien está usando a Potter de pretexto para hablar de psicología/filosofía/whatnot. Incluso si te gustan esos temas, pocas veces logran conectarlos al libro de forma coherente y natural.

En este caso la experiencia fue diferente. No soy una gran entusiasta del anál...more
Explorer l'univers de Rowling en se basant sur ses sources littéraires, une excellente idée qu'a eu John Granger dans ce livre.
Ou l'on découvre l'influence de Jane Austen, de certains auteurs pour enfants britanniques, de la littérature gothique sur Harry Potter... Certains auteurs sont connus, mais d'autres complètement inconnus !
Les explications sont claires, et je me suis dit plein de fois "mais oui, mais c'est bien sûr !". Les chapitres de la fin en rapport avec les symboles spirituels m'ont...more
If a bit heavy-handed in its reading-in, so to speak, it makes up for it in knowledge and detail concerning the "great books" it discusses. There always seems to me to be a bit of grasping-at-straws attitude when it comes to books about books about the books that built the books. Studies have sprung up in wake of The Lord of the Rings' commercial success, as well as Narnia and various others (Percy Jackson comes to mind, with Riordan's playful pop-cultural update of Greek Myth)--and they invaria...more
Belle Nicole
I really really enjoyed this book. Not only did it make sense of Harry Potter but it sparked my interest in other areas of literature: alchemy and gothic literature to be precise.
I enjoyed reading about different types of literature that made up the Harry Potter series; I don't read or learn much about this subject, so that was interesting. Sometimes, though, the discussion would go over my head, especially when the author talked in philosophical terms. I don't know why a person who hasn't read the Harry Potter series would read this book, as it makes references throughout to the books, but if you hadn't read the HP series, the experience would be ruined with all the spo...more
The Harry-Potter-obsessed-English-major in me really loved this book. It reads like a set of literary analysis papers combined and tied together. I had read most of the books that were used as comparisons to Harry Potter- I don't think I would have enjoyed it If I hadn't.

This book went into some things that I hadn't considered when reading Harry Potter but they totally make sense and I'll be thinking about them next time I read the series.

I'm giving this only 3 stars because it isn't fun to re...more
Jul 21, 2013 Jenn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
This was on my Wishlist for ages and I finally got it this past Christmas. I read a bit of it before I put it aside for other things. I was feeling a bit of HP nostalgia, so I picked it back up. I enjoyed most of it. The alchemy bit bored me to tears, but the rest I liked. I enjoyed reading direct ways that other books influenced the HP stories and saw it in most ways. I'd heard that Rowling especially was influenced by The Little White Horse quite a few times and I've read it. Twice actually. I...more
Alicia Scully
Granger explores the various genres and specific texts within the genres that have helped inspire the _Harry Potter_ books. I had been hesitant to read this book because I took a class along the same lines and I didn't know how much different this would actually be from what we discussed. While there were definitely some similarities, Granger went into several subjects, such as alchemy, that I had not covered before. The book was very easy to read as it was definitely written for the public but...more
Mr. Granger takes us behind the scenes for an in-depth look at the literary antecedents and works that inspired Ms. Rowling when she decided to craft a seven-tome epic about a boy wizard. Insightful, incisive and very clear about what makes for great literature and what doesn’t, Mr. Granger does more than give us a glimpse into the minds of a successful writer. He invites us to go out and seek the precursors that influenced Ms. Rowling and gave so many people a fabulous world and its inhabitants...more
A good read if you like the Harry Potter series and are curious about the literary underpinnings of the stories. In addition to helping provide me with a deeper context for Rowling's works, this book gave me a good and concise review of much of popular English literature without being heavy-handed or tied down in literary jargon. Not a book I would have read straight-through. Instead, it was better enjoyed by chapters. I will look forward to reading the Potter series with a different eye after r...more
Very interesting for Potter fans. J. K. Rowling's debt to classic literature and mythology is well known; less familiar to many readers are her homages to British children's authors like E. Nesbit and Enid Blyton. Granger (John, not Hermione) also finds connections to gothic horror, Jane Austen's social commentary, Swiftian satire, and medieval allegory. If this all seems a bit much for a simple children's fantasy, consider that Granger cites Rowling herself in support of his assertions.
I thought this was an interesting book. I did not take in-depth English Lit classes in college so it was fun to see the different levels he looked at her writing and how other lit showed up and influenced her. Some of it was a bit deep for me but a fun read. Vellinga and Bodily girls...give it a read if you think you might want to so we can talk about it on our next girls weekend (that is not planned but REALLLLLLY should be)
K.B. Hoyle
I have had the privilege of meeting John Granger, and he is really a dynamic character! His personality and intelligence are reflected in every book he writes, and this one is no exception. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but I really enjoy reading anything about Harry Potter, so this is one of those books that has fed my addiction. It's wonderful, especially to lovers of classic literature. I highly recommend it!
Angela Mondragon
Brilliant, for any literary fan or student or anyone interested in a deeper look at these wonderful books. Mr. Granger's essays cover multiple spectra of the Potter books from many angles, and you will come away with a richer and deeper understanding of all seven books individually and as a unit, and with suggestions for many other classics with the same attributes to add to your reading list.
Christi Lupher
I love John Granger's books on Harry Potter. They are incredibly insightful. My favorite is "How Harry Cast His Spell" which is more intensely about the books themselves. This book is more of a study of all the literary influences on Harry Potter. That sounds terribly dry, but it was fascinating. And... I finally understand what the heck Postmodernism is!
This book is certainly on the literary criticism shelf. It discusses the four layers of meaning and reviews books that Ms. Rowling may or may not have used as inspiration for the Harry Potter series.

This is much more of an academic treatise, rather than something a reader might pick up for fun. Very interesting, overall.
Matt Posner
I enjoyed this book for many things it revealed to me about the influences on J.K. Rowling. The extended sequence demonstrating that she used alchemy as an underlying theme was less entertaining and persuasive than the rest, and I skipped some. I will read more of Granger's Potter analyses at some point though.
Margery Bayne
This book definitely digs into material that I hadn't thought of before. If you think Harry Potter is only a surface level story, I would suggest this, because they levels of interpretation and symbolism that it discusses is pretty interesting. My only complaint has to do with the pacing.
Nicole Rivera
I found this book fascinating. I am a Harry Potter fan and have picked up on some of the depth of the books on my own, but this examination of the series as a work of literature was incredible. I highly recommend to any literature geeks or über-curious Harry Potter fans!
Hacker The Litwit
Highly enjoyable romp through the literature that makes up Harry Potter. The title would lead you to believe that this is about the books harry studies, but it is about the books Rowling loves and how much their genres influenced her creation of the iconic hero.
Chuck Jackson
Thoughtful. He really made me think about the agenda of J.K. Rowling - not a bad agenda, but just like Austen promotes morality she has her priorities.

I liked him opening up the other books that influenced Rowling - I will seek some of those out.
This has been my favorite of the studies of Harry Potter I have read. I loved the comparisons made to Gothic fiction and I now have a new insight into all of the little details in the books. Highly entertaining and informative.
This Book was pretty good. The interesting part was to see what books that were behind Harry Potter Books.It was also very interesting to see different topics the author had brought up because most of them I did not think of them before.
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