It’s getting close to Christmas and your parents are planning on leaving you at Hogwarts over the holidays so they can visit your big brother Charlie in Romania. The good news is, even though your parents have slugged you off for one of your more interesting brothers, you get to spend Christmas with some of your other precious family members. That’s right, books!
Madam Pince and I have been in cahoots, handpicking a selection from the Library that we think would be perfect for spending time alone in your now witch or wizard-less common room. We ask that you take notice of where you put down our copy of Moby Dick—someone has placed a vanishing charm on it which has made it a nuisance to find and has resulted in many prolonged searches.
1. ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte
If you prize greatness in yourself and others and want to witness more of that greatness in some of the most famous works of literature, look no further than Jane Eyre—where greatness is so abundant it will overflow from your standard size 2 pewter cauldron. The narrative, writing and themes are phenomenal! It really is no surprise that this novel has remained one of the finest pieces of fiction for over 150 years. Set in the heart of Bronte country, on the treacherous Yorkshire moors, Thornfield Hall is vivid, stormy and secluded, with a dark pool of hidden secrets. Jane Eyre has a will of iron and she wields enormous power over herself and others by being able to stick to her own morals no matter the cost. This novel also contains the most Slytherin character in literature, a certain St John Rivers, who is so ambitious about his philanthropic work that he holds others under a vice grip of ‘St-John-Morality’, and tries to succeed through very calculated emotional manipulation. Needless to say, this book is made for Slytherins who enjoy examining the grey between light and dark.
2. ‘Moby Dick’ by Herman Melville
Captain Ahab is going after the mightiest prize of all—the white whale they call Moby Dick. But Moby Dick is incalculably hard to find, even harder to conquer, and has already taken enough limbs from Ahab that the number of lost appendages rivals that of Professor Kettleburn. Moby Dick is a story of sheer obsession. Unlike Professor Kettleburn, Ahab doesn’t retire or lose steam or profit off of his close misses by admitting defeat. Instead, he becomes more determined than ever, and to this end, is willing to put everyone around him in danger. This is a story about power imbalance and the quest for glory as well as transforming into the very monster that you had set your heart on destroying. Ishmael’s narration is like a Hufflepuff loadstar, and you will find yourself being drawn to him, as you are to your real life Hufflepuff friends, through his kindness and loyalty.
3. ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen
If you’re a Slytherin, and you feel as if being an outcast and misunderstood is kind of your bread and butter, then Persuasion explores these themes with great precision and with an admirable heroine to boot! I imagine this is what it feels like to be the only Slytherin in a family full of Gryffindors. Certain looks and secret glances are so important in Austen, and in Persuasion, they are meaningful in spades. For Slytherins, there is a certain pleasure in being tuned into these wordless conversations. When your Ravenclaw best friend Benwick is too busy with his nose in a volume of poetry, or your Hufflepuff brother in-law Charles is too distracted from exclaiming over his love for shotguns, your quick and discerning recognition lays all truth bear. Persuasion is also one of the greatest stories of long enduring love that resonates with a certain Slytherin Byronic hero—if you were hit hard in the heart by ‘Always’ then you’ll feel that same earthquake tenfold on the ‘Rickman’ scale in Persuasion.
1. ‘Wives and Daughters’ by Elizabeth Gaskell
Molly Gibson is almost certainly a distant relation of Helga Hufflepuff herself. When we are introduced to Molly at the beginning of the novel, she lives with her father Mr Gibson, who is the country doctor, and they are in such happy communion that they eat as much cheese together as they want and without any interference from ladies who deem these things improper! But soon, Mr Gibson marries again, and into the house comes the most diabolical Slytherin ninny that could ever be dreamt possible; her new step mother: Mrs Kirkpatrick, as well as Mrs Kirkpatrick’s charming and secretive daughter Cynthia. We follow Molly as she bears the brunt of her new family. She does this by showing them inexplicable kindness and standing up to the enemies of her new sister with the impassioned strength of a true badger. Let’s just say, Molly’s unwavering loyalty causes her to pursue a confrontation that makes Ernie Macmillan’s proclamation of Harry’s being the heir of Slytherin look cute. There is also a natural science element within the story that Professor Sprout might consider constructive in the study of Herbology.
2. ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’ by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Werther can’t help but fall head over heels in love with Lotte on his trip to the idyllic German village of Wahlheim. The problem is, she is already engaged to a rather nice guy called Albert. Werther loves and befriends Albert too. In fact, he cares for just about everyone—all of Lotte’s brothers and sisters, the village workers as well as paupers and simple-minded men and women. The novel depicts an eternal love which can never be overcome—it’s like experiencing all the symptoms of a love potion without ever having been slipped one. Such is the heart of a Hufflepuff! The novel follows Werther’s toxic suffering, having to watch on whilst his soul mate remains with another man. Hufflepuffs are confronted with being on the back burner all the time, in friendships as well as relationships, and it is through their kindness and patience that they continue to make others happy.
3. ‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen
“No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her to be born an heroine.” I am pretty sure they said this about Tonks too, and look how she turned out! This is Jane Austen’s funniest novel in which the author has a bit of a laugh over some of the serious Gothic vibes that the Slytherins get swept up in. Catherine meets fellow Hufflepuff, Henry Tilney, in Bath, where he shows himself to be the perfect gentleman by knowing the minutiae of a good muslin. Henry is clever and sarcastic and sympathetic—one of Austen’s most charming heroes! He wins the heart of our heroine without having to tell her that she is beneath him! That’s right, we’re looking at you Darcy! Catherine likes to believe the best in everyone, and in Northanger Abbey, this means she is constantly being harassed by the exorbitant and speechifying Gryffindor, John Thorpe, as well as his cunning and money hungry Slytherin sister, Isabella.
1. ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ by Agatha Christie
You’ve been recommended Sherlock Holmes at every turn, you’ve received so many copies of Arthur Conan Doyle’s book for birthdays and at Christmas that you’ve had to toss them into the Vanishing Cabinet and pray you’ll never see the sight of them again. Hercule Poirot is a wit, and he is almost certainly the guy that settles on the right answer to the common room riddle when there has been a somewhat-lengthy bank up by the door. What’s more—he doesn’t have the Gryffindor tendency to show off about it. In Murder on the Orient Express, you are constantly asked to keep an open mind. The murderer isn’t obvious or trivial, and Poirot must be able to find the answer among what seems like thousands of faulty opinions, inexplicably tossed in his direction. There is an exponential increase in being on the edge of your seat. Nothing comes close to this thrill of the chase! Well… except perhaps being moments away from a solution in arithmancy, or having three more clockwise stirs before a perfect draught of living dead.
2. ‘Ender’s Game’ by Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game is proof that genius requires both empathy and sound reasoning. These two things are combined perfectly in the character of Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin. As a boy, he is taken away from his home and sent to combat school in space with a hoard of other children. This is Hogwarts, but instead of spells and potions, they learn the art of war and advanced mathematics. They are competing against each other all the while; Ender is surrounded by other intoxicatingly brilliant Ravenclaws, making for some stiff competition (imagine the vibes in the common room the day before the Spell’s exam, but so much worse!) If Ender succeeds, he will go on to command an army and fight an alien race called the Buggers in a second crucial war to protect earth. The stakes are monstrously high. The slightest bit of moral deviance can lead you catapulting down into the extreme recesses of Slytherin ‘diplomacy’. A rash Gryffindor decision will mean failure. And Hufflepuff kindnesses might make you the target for exploitation. This novel shows that great knowledge also lends itself to devastating effects—which mimics a certain Professor Quirrell’s quest for power in oh so many ways.
3. ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett
This play explores so much simultaneous nonsense and profound meaning that it makes Professor Trelawney’s antics look a little bit meek. Vladimir and Estragon, two homeless men, sit by a tree, and whilst they are waiting for someone called ‘Godot’, they conjure up a grand spectrum of stories. You get the feeling that these destitute men are so crazy and imaginative that they have discovered a new type of magic that is all at once powerful, elaborate and timeless. The play tries to answer some of those grand questions that Ravenclaws have looked to the stars for. If you know there will be a Gryffindor present, it’s probably best you don’t suggest this read for the Hogwarts Book Club– the Ravenclaw prefects have suggested that too many floaty thoughts and abstract ideas make them a little glassy eyed.
1. ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell
If you are a Gryffindor, and you’re obsessing over an enemy in Slytherin who you secretly have a huge crush on, then you should probably check your Apparition License in case your name there has accidently changed to Margaret Hale. The novel plays host to a number of issues plaguing industrialist England—worker’s rights, food shortages, strikes and the north/south divide. Margaret is strong, courageous, heroic and not afraid to put her body on the line in order to help a friend in need, whether they are deserving of it or not. Should S.P.E.W. require a new presidency, Margaret Hale would almost certainly fit the bill. Sometimes her heroism back fires more loudly than Hagrid’s motorcycle—she is prone to letting no one in on her secrets, thinking that she must face these trials alone, and they inevitably fall hard around her like the thousands of prophecies sent crashing down in the department of mysteries by a certain boy wizard with a lightning scar.
2. ‘The Final Empire’ by Brandon Sanderson
The Mistborn series is a hero’s journey so epic and action packed that it really does put the Triwizard Tournament to shame. Vin is scooped out of the slums by a dashing, athletic, kick-arse, smart-mouthed and crush-worthy steel-inquisitor slayer (this writer may be more than a little bit partial to him). Kelsier and Vin are Mistborns—they are able to burn metals inside their stomach in exchange for a variety of superhuman powers, and Kelsier wants to train Vin up so that they might defeat the big bad—The Lord Ruler. This bloke is not unlike another dark Lord we know who needs vanquishing! There is action and adventure at every turn. This world is probably what Hogwarts would be like if you only had to study the cool subjects like Defence Against the Dark Arts and Flying.
3. ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte
Gilbert Markham is a young man who is impassioned, a little bit rash and intrigued to the extreme by the new tenant at Wildfell Hall—a certain Mrs Graham. She is a widow, has come from a society from Merlin knows where, and is a little too protecting of her son, little Arthur. Anne Bronte’s novel opened the eyes of many of its Victorian readers. It was new and bold because it touched on so many dangerous themes— it showed the true effects of alcoholism, the catastrophes of domestic abuse, and the inexorable policing of women’s voices. The character of Helen is brave and strong with a bottomless power of will—she would probably be able to petrify the basilisk if it took a look at her. She has been wronged so many times and put up with it in order to protect her child from the destructive grasp of her husband. I imagine this is what it would have been like if Harry had of grown up with Professor McGonagall instead of the Dursleys—attack Harry at your own demise Voldy! McGonagall will turn you into a toad before you can say ‘Have a biscuit, Potter’.
Have you read any of these novels? I’d love to know what you thought of them! You can talk to me down in the comments or you can catch me here on Twitter and Instagram. Click the links to activate the Port Key!