Review: Repotting Harry Potter, by James W. Thomas

Repotting Harry Potter: A Professor’s Book-by-Book Guide for the Serious Re-Reader, by James W. Thomas. Allentown, PA: Zossima Press, 2009. 376 pp. $18.99 (paperback).

I’m sometimes puzzled at people, some of my good friends among them, who never give a serious thought to rereading a book, even a classic. Yet these same people would surely not pass up a trip to Paris because they’ve already been there or refuse to listen to a CD of Beethoven’s Ninth because they’ve already heard it. (p. 41)


Professor of Literature James W. Thomas holds that there are “plenty of rewards and surprises” to be gained by rereading one’s favorite books (p. i). And in Repotting Harry Potter: A Professor’s Book-by-Book Guide for the Serious Re-Reader, Thomas convincingly elucidates the kinds of gems to be found.

Toward that end, he analyzes the seven books in J. K. Rowling’s famed Harry Potter series, dividing each into manageable sections (often covering several chapters) and pointing out various instances of foreshadowing, symbolism, external references, and humor that Rowling incorporates into each. Understanding and looking for these literary techniques, says Thomas, makes reading and especially rereading great works of fiction all the more enjoyable. . . .

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