Daily Archives: November 19, 2010

The Science of Harry Potter Book Review

Happy Harry Potter Week!

It’s been nearly twelve years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone hit shelves in the U.S.  Since then, schools all over the world have added the Harry Potter series to required reading lists…kids (including myself) have forgone parties, sleep, and playtime to waiting in lines miles and miles long to get a first glimpse of the next Harry Potter novel.  Since its inception, the Harry Potter franchise has grossed more than four billion dollars…and that number’s only going to skyrocket with the movie release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

So what is it about this boy wizard’s world that has everyone hooked?  And how far away are we from really being able to enjoy using an Invisibility Cloak, having our own house elves, or training owls to deliver the mail?  Those are the questions Roger Highfield tries to answer in his illuminating book, The Science of Harry Potter:  How Magic REALLY Works.

Here we are introduced to the world of Harry Potter…not as J.K. Rowling shows it, but as a learned muggle might see it.  Highfield takes the works of Harry Potter and highlights the “magic” in them…the Invisibility Cloak, the Quidditch games, the animals in the dark forest, the people, places, and things that help bring Harry Potter to life, and attempts to explain to the reader how this magic could or might “work.”  For example, he offers his suggestions of DNA combinations to make yourself a Dobby, or a Hagrid, or even a giant man-eating spider.

I’m not going to lie here…a lot of this stuff went right over my head.  The calculations at the beginning of the book that tried to explain what must happen for a broom to fly or how to move through time were enough to make me “wingardium leviosa” the book right back on the shelf…but I plowed through and I’m so glad I did.

The Science of Harry Potter is broken down into two main parts:  the first part deals mainly with how the magic works…how we can ideally move through time or create Every Flavor Jelly Beans or mutate DNA genes to make a dragon.  The second half is more of a historical look into magic…an overview of the world of sorcery, witches and wizards, the Sorcerer’s stone, and the one wizard who would give Dumbledore a run for his money…

The Science of Harry Potter is a great book for any fan of the series.  While some may be weary that this book might ruin the magic, they should fear not.  After all, Highfield himself has this to say of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:  “Science will never be able to erase all the magic from life.”

COMING UP IN TWO WEEKS:  I’ll share with you the book that has changed my life…forever.


Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.


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