The idea of a magic book is well-established in our culture. It starts way, way back with Judaism and the reliqueries for the Torah…maybe even the Ark of the Covenant which should have housed the tablets of the Ten Comandments written by the ultimate author: The Ultimate Magic Book. Before that there were books of magic in Egypt and Babylonia. We can keep looking in the past, and as long as there was a written language, there was a magic book.
I do want to blur the lines between a holy book and a magic book. The words have different connotations, but the meaning is the same. Somehow the book will transcend the ordinary world of men and women and by its words or its influence, change the ordinary to extraordinary.
Some may suggest that books in general have a magical quality and I certainly will not deny that. The act of reading is magical in itself. If you try to deconstruct the process of reading you will find just how magical that is. Everyone who has ever read a good book will remember the times when the reading was so effortless that one became “lost” in the story. Where did the story play out? In your brain, of course. Surging waves. frigid winds, burning sands…they were all far away from the comfy chair. Yet you felt you were there, and many characters in literature have become more real to subsequent generations than “real” people we know. Robinson Crusoe, d’Artagnan and Elizabeth Bennet come to mind.
This is magic.
Van Gogh knew of this magic. He had few friends growing up. His disability made him different, and people throughout his life avoided him. He suffered an acute loneliness that few of us can imagine. He was a great reader.
To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life. ~W. Somerset Maugham
He painted this:
If I tell you that is his father’s bible, and Vincent’s novel, you get the picture. I see that the candles have gone out.
Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~Stephen King
I often derive a peculiar satisfaction in conversing with the ancient and modern dead, – who yet live and speak excellently in their works. My neighbors think me often alone, – and yet at such times I am in company with more than five hundred mutes – each of whom, at my pleasure, communicates his ideas to me by dumb signs – quite as intelligently as any person living can do by uttering of words. ~Laurence Sterne
If you think about it. the act of reading a book puts one in contact with the thoughts and ideas of other human beings who may thousand miles away or a thousand years ago. What else in our daily life can do such a thing?
Books don’t have to come from Snape’s library to be magic.