Reviews of ‘Harry Potter’s Bookshelf’

Harry Potter’s Bookshelf has been out for a week now and there are 8 reviews up on its page. They are all five star recommendations and all are very generous in their praise. Here are four, just in case you’re still on the fence about buying a copy:

5.0 out of 5 stars Most accessible, wide-ranging, and convincing trip yet inside Potter
By Stephen Schumacher (REAL NAME)

John Granger was a trailblazer, sniffing out the (not so) hidden Christian and alchemical roots of Rowling’s work back when just the first few novels had been published and initial critical discourse was often shallow or misguided (or verged on “Burn the witch!”). John’s early prognostications sometimes seemed a stretch back then, but time and further Potter volumes have largely proved them out.

The new “Harry Potter’s Bookshelf” updates and confirms John’s earlier analysis, but widens the field to shows Potter’s strong connections to what seems like practically all English literature! Austen, Dickens, Shakespeare, Bronte, E. Nesbit, Dracula, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, Gulliver’s Travels, Pilgrim’s Progress, The Secret Garden, Lord Peter Wimsey, The Brothers Karamazov, … the hits just keep on coming. (And not just big names – the “Bookshelf” includes surprises like the obscure “The Little White Horse”, which Rowling described as her childhood favorite and most direct influence on her Harry Potter series.)

The “Bookshelf” is truly jam-packed with good stuff, but it’s fun and fast-paced to read – a whirlwind tour rather than a pedantic plod. I don’t think John Granger will have too many doubters this time around: the connections he draws are simply too direct, well-documented, and convincing. His literary targets are hit dead-on – then resurrected within the Potter corpus, drawing readers in both directions.

5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Books That Stand Behind Harry
By Elisabeth

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. Readers already familiar with Granger’s work will find these ten chapters an excellent distillation of some of his most important teaching on narrative voice, postmodern literary characteristics, the hero’s journey, literary alchemy and more. If these themes and Granger’s work are new to you, I encourage you to step from the chapters you find fascinating here into some of his earlier books, especially “How Harry Cast His Spell,” and “The Deathly Hallows Lectures.”

5.0 out of 5 stars Mentally – yours, mine, and ours!
By David W. Stroud (REAL NAME)

I have just completed John Granger’s newest tome on Harry Potter. It is a superb linkage of English literary tradition and the master ideas incorporated into JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I confess to being a huge fan of Harry Potter; I’m in the midst of my ninth re-rereading of the series. Granger’s previous works have been on my reading list inter libra potteris. This one is another corker!!! My re-readings have been enhanced in a major way after each of Granger’s prior books. His insights and explanations have enabled me to delve deeper into the text and its referents as well as my responses.

I had doubted that there was much to be added, quite frankly. I was wrong. HARRY POTTER’S BOOKSHELF is an outstanding addition to Mr. Granger’s prior books. I particularly enjoyed the section on Gothic elements in literature and further appreciated not only Rowling’s work but the works of Charles Williams, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien as well. I gained further insight into one of Rowling’s favorite books by Goudge also.

The literary skeletons of Shakespeare and other English Greats laid bare in the discussion of alchemy are worthy subjects of admiration and dissection alone, but coupled with the usage by Rowling in the HP series, are not mere fossils unearthed by careless diggers, but living ancestors whose heritage is made visible! This is not something discussed in my long ago college literature classes but it is an explanatory message of great power to aid the enjoyment of all literature.

I would like to enlighten you on my enlightenment in each of the 10 genres under discussion in this excellent work! But that would be far too long a review. I encourage you most heartily to purchase this book and open your mind to the glorious literature that anticipates and informs Harry Potter. The gifts John Granger makes available are just waiting your reception and opening of them to further your enjoyment of all your reading.

“Are-you-MENTAL?” is Ron’s question to Harry on more than one occasion, but with Granger’s insights you will be: for Rowling and Harry, Shakespeare and many of his plays, Tolkien and Middle Earth, even Dante and the Divine Comedy. Get Granger. Get mental. You’ll love it!

5.0 out of 5 stars The book about Harry Potter you’ve been waiting for
By Christina Semmens (REAL NAME)

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.


  1. Patricio says

    Congratulations John! Surely, this new book is as good as your others books!

  2. Arabella Figg says

    The book is FANTASTIC. See also the reviews at Barnes & Noble, including mine as dchan (I lost a “helpful” rating when revising it).

  3. revgeorge says

    John, I hope to have my review up this weekend. I have about 15 pages left in the book. It was a productive day despite being on planes most of it. Got reading done. Almost finished listening to The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit. And found a copy of The Little White Horse by Goudge at the Borders in the mall across from the Azkatraz hotel.

  4. Kathy the Unspeakable says

    Congratulations on the great reviews! I just finished reading How Harry Cast His Spell, and plan on buying this book as soon as I get my next paycheck. I can’t wait!

  5. I actually just bought this book in Barnes&Noble. I’ve never read any of your books before, so first-time reader, first-time visitor. I’ve only just finished the first two chapters, and it really is a great read so far! Per your open suggestion in the Introduction, I’ve been jotting down notes and thoughts on the chapters I’ve read. I think it’ll be interesting to read through these when all’s said and done 😉

  6. Welcome, Jananae!

  7. Arabella Figg says

    Jananae, you’re in for great literary adventures at the HogPro table!

  8. Thank you! I’m looking forward to reading others insight, and adding a bit of my own.

  9. I got a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble, and just ordered my copy. Can’t wait!!!

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