Science fiction and fantasy
The Science of Harry Potter : How Magic Really Works
by Roger Highfield
This is no dry list of facts. Rather, it's a collection of some of the more extreme and entertaining aspects of modern science. The Harry Potter theme that links it all sometimes comes across as a bit clumsy, and in some ways it would stand just as well as a general science book without this fictional prop. There's enough variety here to be able to teach something new to all but the most knowledgeable scientists.
Highfield doesn't talk down to his readers, and as you might expect from the science editor of the Daily Telegraph it's not dumbed down either. Some of Harry Potter's younger fans may struggle with some of the concepts, but on the whole it's very clearly written.
This book is "not approved or endorsed by J.K. Rowling or Warner Bros", which is more of a reflection on them than it is of the quality of the book. It's full of nuggets of scientific trivia that are designed to inspire the reader with an interest in science. Highfield's enthusiasm for his subject is infectious, although he doesn't go into much depth on any one topic. You might not end up being able to levitate a broomstick after reading it, but it does explain how magic and its surrounding legends arose, and why they are so pervasive in human cultures.
If you like this, try:Inflight Science by Brian Clegg
This book examines the science behind flying, from check in at the airport to touch down.
Sleights of Mind by Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde with Sandra Blakeslee
This book explores the things magicians can teach neuroscientists about the way our minds work.
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