In the midst of finals and papers, I thought I’d blog about some books I think are worth a read (post-finals, no doubt), especially if you’re a fan of the Harry Potter books. Even if you’re not a fan — and especially if you’re not a fan because you think they encourage occult practices — the following books are definitely worth your time. In particular, at least 2 of the 4 books I’m going to recommend focus primarily on faith and theology in Harry Potter, which makes them worthwhile reads for Harry Potter fans who try to seek out God in all things — which is one of the Jesuit ideals, by the way. I, for one, am a huge believer in the idea that God loves to reveal Himself through stories (all kinds), and the Harry Potter books are no exception.
And so, without further ado, here are my 4 recommendations of Great Reads for Potter-heads (or soon-to-be Potter-heads *wink*):
An awesome book (which blew my mind the first time I read it) whose main idea is that we are all “‘wired’ to respond to ‘stories that reflect the greatest story ever told'” (Publisher’s Weekly). Granger argues that the story of Harry Potter is certainly one such story, and he explains why, using very specific examples from the books. This book focuses on the first 5 books of the series.
The Deathly Hallows Lectures (also) by John Granger
I recommend this book, not having read it myself (yet), as a completion of John Granger’s take on the books. Written (and delivered as lectures around the country) after the release of Book 7, these lectures bring his “these books are a reflection of the greatest story ever told” thesis full circle to incorporate the rich contents of the 7th book. If you haven’t yet read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7), it’s probably a good idea to hold off reading this book until you do.
Harry Potter & Imagination: The Way Between Two Worlds by Travis Prinzi (of The Hog’s Head Internet-fame)
Here’s another book I haven’t read yet, but that’s because it hasn’t been released yet (it’s available to pre-order now). But if you go to the link for it, you can see the table of contents, and man does it look like an awesome book! It covers imagination, literature, faith, culture, politics, gender… all of which the Harry Potter story meets head on, without fear or apology. And the results of this meeting are why people keep reading the books — over, and over, and over again. Prinzi examines this meeting of story and life in his book, which is definitely on my must-read list.
The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide by Nancy Carpentier Brown
This book I just stumbled upon while collecting the links for the above titles, but I thought it sounded like a good one, and apropos since we are a Catholic Jesuit institution. It sounds worthwhile in particular because it offers a different perspective on the books — while Granger and Prinzi are both scholars (albeit dads as well), Brown is a mother first and foremost, which means her book is aimed at a family audience. She addresses among other things the books’ compatibility with the Catholic faith, and reveals an “attitude toward contemporary fiction that is both open and discerning” (Fr. Pierre Ingram, C.C. S.T.L.). For any of you Catholic Potter-heads out there, this book is sure to flesh out the Catholic meaning of the Harry Potter story for you.
All four of these books should be available in the Library later in the year, so add them to your “Must Read” list before returning to the world of finals and papers… Only 2 more weeks to go!