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Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books behind the Hogwarts Adventures Paperback – July 7, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; 1st edition (July 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425229793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425229798
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Granger is an author, speaker, and professor. A graduate of the University of Chicago, where he studied classical languages and literature, he uses Harry Potter to teach English literature online at HogwartsProfessor.com. He is a frequent speaker at academic and fan conferences and has been interviewed as a "Harry Potter expert" in the "Wall Street Journal," the "New York Times," CNN, and the DVD of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." He and his wife, Mary, have seven children.

Customer Reviews

His insights and explanations have enabled me to delve deeper into the text and its referents as well as my responses.
David W. Stroud
After reading John's books, I found great joy in reading books that I previously had put down because I "just couldn't get into it".
James Devine
John Granger has written a fantastic and fascinating exploration into the great books behind J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
Amy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hardy on July 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
In his latest contribution to serious Harry Potter scholarship, John Granger takes on the challenge of analyzing the influence of the "great books" upon the wildly popular series. Rather than a tedious "this looks like that" listing, Granger takes the reader on a delightful journey through the many remarkable literary genres that are woven into Harry's adventures. Using the four layers of meaning (surface, moral, allegorical, and anagogical/mythical), Granger delves into a lively, readable analysis that never gets bogged down in literary jargon, but always remains insightful and thought-provoking. The influences he covers range from the fairly obvious ( Dickens, and all those sympathetic orphans! Austen, and all those surprise endings!) to the more obscure but equally relevant (Sayers's detective novels, Gothic stories whose influence actually puts Harry in a role usually given to heroines).

Summary is used sparingly but effectively. Even "literature geeks" who have read all these books and written papers on them will not find these sections tedious, and they may find handy reminders. Granger frequently unlocks useful insights with his characteristically friendly and accessible "voice." Readers familiar with Granger will not be surprised to see points on alchemy and on Rowling's unique twists on post-modernism, but those who have not read Granger's other works may now be tempted to go further into his work, like the Deathly Hallows Lectures, after getting hints of those topics here.

The text is well documented with readable apparatus, but an index would be nice. This is a valuable addition for any bookshelf of Potter studies, appealing both for novice readers and serious literature geeks.
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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Elisabeth P on July 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
In Harry Potter's Bookshelf, John Granger provides an insightful tour through the literary influences that helped to shape the Harry Potter books. He looks at ten literary genres with representative books and authors that he believes were part of the rich mental "compost" from which Harry Potter grew.

But this book does much more than pay respects to Rowling's excellent artistry in "rowling" together various genres, themes and ideas. It teaches us to think about what it means to be good readers, of Harry Potter and of countless other great books, and what it means to let our experience as readers change us. In his forthright, non-jargony writing style, Granger provides HP enthusiasts with teaching on symbolist literature and how it can and should be profitably read on four levels: the surface, moral, allegorical, and anagogical levels. He explains how this kind of reading, which used to be commonplace, is rarely now understood. And he looks at the Harry Potter books, in light of the great books that came before them, on all four of these levels.

If you've never deeply considered Harry Potter's literary family tree, which includes Dickens, Austen, Bronte, Stoker, Shakespeare, Swift, Chaucer, Goudge and Lewis, you will find much literary food for thought in this excellent guidebook. If I had to choose favorites, the chapters on Gothic elements in Harry Potter (Snape as Heathcliff and Harry as gothic "hero/ine") and on the alchemical scaffolding of the HP books are especially golden, but there is much to mine in every single chapter as we consider the amazing artistry of Rowling the postmodern symbolist.

I have no doubt that teachers wanting to mine the literary riches of Harry Potter with their students will be especially delighted with this book.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Christina Semmens on July 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is the book about Harry Potter that you've been waiting for. John Granger spectacularly presents all of the reasons for why the Harry Potter series have not only been so popular, but why readers will come back time and again to reread the series. Mr. Granger does this by providing the reader the fundamental keys to understanding Ms. Rowling's series. These keys assist a reader in discerning the four levels of meaning contained in the Harry Potter series, but also will assist a reader in appreciating all great English literature.

A must have book for any Harry Potter fan who wants to know the WHY behind how Ms. Rowling was able to entice millions of reader down the rabbit hole into the magical world of Hogwarts, and then keeps you in this magical "wonderland" throughout the Potter series.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By James Devine on July 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am writing this review to share with you what I know about John Granger. I met John at the base chapel at Parris Island in 1989. He and I were lay readers, he for Recruit Platoon 1048 and I for Platoon 1050. He was an honors graduate of the University of Chicago from the Great Books program. I had a business degree from Lenoir-Rhyne University in NC. I learned from our talks that he was unlike any character I had ever met. John has a simple philosophy for life. His life is dedicated to becoming more Christ-like each day. I think all Christians have this same hope. What makes John, I think, unusual, is his whole-heartedness in enacting that which he believes will make him a better man.

John's joy and love of life is contagious. It always seemed to me that His happiness was simply part of his nature and he came by it naturally. Several years ago, John wrote The Hidden Key To Harry Potter, giving me a first glimpse into the genius of Granger and was, in fact, the key that unlocked a world I never knew existed, the storehouse of knowledge found through reading great books.

After reading John's books, I found great joy in reading books that I previously had put down because I "just couldn't get into it". Dracula, Frankentein, The Brothers Karamozov, and Tale of Two Cities to name a few. I'm looking forward to tackling Shakespeare and Plato as well. Whoever thought a former Lenoir-Rhyne linebacker and Marine Corps NCO would read Pilgrim's Progress and Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy? Well I did and enjoyed them greatly.

I recommend Harry Potter's Bookshelf by John Granger because I love what I can see when I stand on the shoulders of the greatest storytellers of the ages. And I thank John for handing me his telescope. Thanks again John, for helping me become a better man.
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