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

Harry Potter's Bookshelf by John Granger
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really liked it

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, allegorical meaning, and mythic meaning, drawing out correlations to Dickens, Sayers, Austen, Tolkien, and Nesbit to name a few. The academic in me tore through every chapter and turned over each argument.

Reading this book felt like I was back in college sitting in a lecture (in a good way) and had me thinking about Harry Potter in completely new ways. A scholarly text like this runs the risk of pretention, but the tone throughout is conversational and does not require previous knowledge of every text mentioned in its chapters. One of my favorite connections was the one drawn between perspective in Rowling's novels and that of Jane Austen's novels, perhaps most effectively in Emma. On the other hand, there are a few instances where it felt like Granger was stretching, especially when trying to identify patterns in every single book and some of the Christian imagery.

However, despite some of those moments when I just didn't buy it, overall I really enjoyed digging into this book. If anything, I wish I could have reined myself in and read it a little slower because it definitely warrants some time to digest each layer of argument. Part of what is so wonderful about the Harry Potter series, and so many great works of literature, is that each reading provides something new; I never get bored with the story. Without a doubt, I will pick up this book again to challenge and expand my own understanding of the magical world that has captivated me for years.
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Reading Progress

December 27, 2010 – Shelved
Started Reading
January 1, 2011 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Alicia (new)

Alicia May That is one amazing review right there! Thank you for this, it really genuinely helped :)


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