Portrait photo of Donna Woodford Gormley

Donna Woodford-Gormley

Las Vegas, N.M. – An upcoming reading group at New Mexico Highlands will explore magic in literature such as a Harry Potter book.

Donna Woodford-Gormley, a Highlands University English professor, will lead the “Entering Magical Worlds” reading group.

The free book discussions are from 12 – 1 p.m. in Donnelly Library, 802 National Ave., on these dates:

  • Sept. 27 – – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Oct. 25 –The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  • Nov. 29 – Coraline by Neil Gaiman

“I’m teaching in a learning community for freshmen this semester on the magic of reading and writing and my specific class is about Harry Potter,” said Woodford-Gormley. “I wanted a reading group that tied in with that and realized how many fantasy books are about entering magical worlds.

“When you’re reading a book you always enter another world, but these three books are about young people literally entering other worlds. Harry Potter gets on a train and goes to a school of magic. The children in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe find a magical door in the back of a wardrobe that takes them to Narnia. Coraline finds a door in her home’s family that takes her to an alternate universe,” Woodford-Gormley said.

Gormley said that while the books are written for children, they have wide appeal to readers of all ages.

“These books all deal with important themes of finding one’s place in the world. Part of the magic in every story is the love that protects the children and brings them home. What I like best about these three books are that they are all modern fairy tales and I love fairy tales. These children face frightening situations and manage to fight the forces of evil and prevail,” Woodford-Gormley said.

Woodford-Gormley said that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, published in 1998, became a publishing phenomenon. It reached the top of The New York Times best-selling list for fiction in August 1999 and stayed near the top of the list for much of 1999 and 2000. All seven books in the J.K Rowling series were made into blockbuster features films.

Published in 1950, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the first and best known of C.S. Lewis’ seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia series.

“These Narnia books have become classics of children’s literature and were also made into popular films,” Woodford-Gormley said.

Coraline was published in 2002 and adapted into a stop-motion film in 2009.

“Of the three, Coraline is the darker of the stories and is sometimes referred to as children’s gothic,” Woodford-Gormley said.

At Highlands, Woodford-Gormley teaches courses on Harry Potter, fairy tales, and Shakespeare.

The book group participants are encouraged to bring a bag lunch to the discussion. Donnelly Library will provide tea and dessert.

April Kent, a Donnelly librarian and head of public services, coordinates the library’s reading groups.

“The reading groups are informal, and I encourage people to join the discussion whenever they can,” Kent said. “At Donnelly we offer free library cards to area residents. All the books are available at the library.”

For more information, contact Kent at 505-454-3139, ajkent@nmhu.edu, or visit the library.