Books with Magical Properties

We all know about that terrible Monster Book of Monsters in Harry Potter, but how many other literary books have magical properties?  Walter Benjamin tells us about one of those magical books in a short story by Hans Christian Andersen:

“In one of Andersen’s tales, there is a picture-book that cost ‘half a kingdom.’  In it everything was alive.  ‘The birds sang, and people cam out of the book and spoke.’  But when the princess turned the page, “they leaped back in again so that there should be no disorder.’  Pretty and unfocused, like so much that Andersen wrote, this little invention misses the point by a hair’s breadth.  Things do not come out to meet the picturing child from the pages of the book; instead, in looking, the child enters into them as a cloud that becomes suffused with the riotous colors of the world of pictures.”

There is also Lucy’s book in the Chronicles of Narnia–that intoxicating story in the Magician’s Book that she forgets as soon as she turns the pages–and she can’t go back!  Any others? Inkheart?

5 thoughts on “Books with Magical Properties

  1. There is of course the Hobbit, more recently The Lightning Thief, and the classic A Wrinkle in Time. I haven’t read A Wrinkle in Time since I was in elementary school-that was a long time ago! As I recall it was about inter-dimensional travel, I might have to pick that up the next time I’m at the library.

  2. Thanks! I was wondering less about magic as a property of narrative than about the physical book as an object with the ability to do things–assault you, invite you in, etc. Neverending Story perhaps? And Pagemaster?

  3. Well, Ireland is the place to spend a great deal of time. After sacred wells, illuminated books have been venerated for their curative powers. Thousands of examples. The Book of Durrow, to mention one, was used to help an ailing cow.

  4. In Terry Pratchet’s ‘Wee Free Men’ the heroine is repeatedly told that “all stories are true somewhere.” She encounters monsters from the ‘The Goode Childe’s Booke of Faerie Tales’ and during the penultimate climax she finds herself inside the world of a picture from ‘Flowers of the Chalk’-two books on her shelf at home.

    Also, Tom Riddle’s notebook that possesses Ginny is another Rowling example of a book containing powers.

    In Gail Carson Levine’s “Ella Enchanted” Ella’s fairy godmother gives her a magic book that, among other things, can show Ella pictures of those dear to her and copy her on correspondence about her-rather similar to the eavesdropping Lucy does through her book in Narnia!

  5. How about the Book of Gramayre (sp?) in Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising? In the story, Will reads the book by experiencing every page as if he’d fallen into it, and the text of the book changes based on what the reader needs to know (and is capable of understanding) at any given time.

Comments are closed.