I remember in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a wizard was reading A Brief History of Time by the author Stephen Hawking.

Why should a wizard read something like this? And was there any specific reason as to why this book only was chosen?

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    The HP wiki suggests that it foreshadows time travel later in the film, that's about the only thing I've found related.
    – JohnP
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 15:07
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    Why shouldn't a wizard read it? It's a good book! :P (Slightly more seriously, we do have wizards interested in what muggles come up with, such as Mr. Weasley. It's not unthinkable that there would be a wizard with more advanced interest in muggle discoveries beyond toaster ovens.)
    – Brian S
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 15:36
  • Hmm, I'm not sure this question has been asked before, actually -- not that I've memorized all the HP questions on the board, though. I'm glad it was asked -- I hadn't known this detail about the PoA movie before and I like trivia, so thanks for that! :) Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 2:00
  • Furthermore, why couldn't that man be a muggleborn wizard who'd received muggle education prior to magical study, meaning he'd studied physics - giving him an interest in that topic, too? He'd have learnt that physics are the rules that apply to the non-magical universe. The moment you get magic in -poof!- sorry, physics. Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 11:35
  • I think this book was an interesting choice. It's a cogent parallel to the movie in regards to the concept of time travel, wormholes, and time itself really.
    – user46935
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 18:16

2 Answers 2


There's no reason a wizard wouldn't read such a book. I'm sure there are some minority of wizards who want to understand the 'Muggle World' and Stephen Hawking's books that are aimed at the layperson (such as A Brief History of Time) are actually fairly good. They explain things simply, so that an average person can understand, and give a nice entry to the concepts. It would be a nice way for a wizard to begin to get the gist of where Muggle knowledge is.

Such a book might be recommended to someone who entered a bookstore in search of 'science books' or to someone who read a Muggle newspaper and discovered the names of some top scientists.

Alternatively, it could be somewhat popular in the Wizard world at large:

A wizard would likely find Hawking to be amusing - 'physics' and 'material limits' just don't apply to them. To a wizard who knows about time turners, Hawking's assertations about the impossibility of time travel would be laughable. Even to those without, many concepts of modern physics (such as conservation of momentum and the concept that matter can't be created or destroyed) would seem silly.

Since such things are presented with all seriousness by Muggle physics, the end result for a wizard might be taken as extremely deadpan humor.

  • Good, I thought magic and science don't go together (Don't you think so?). That was the reason I asked this. Anyways, thanks for your answer... Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 16:16
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    @AwalGarg: I don't think they go together at all, really. Around magic in Harry Potter, technology doesn't work very well. Essentially, I believe that physics just goes and cries when people start casting spells, and science & technology need physics to remain stable.
    – Jeff
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 16:24
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    @AwalGarg I disagree - Snape says in Order of the Phoenix something like: "Space and time matter", when Snape is teaching Harry Occlumency.
    – Möoz
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 0:37
  • Also, it could be fairly reasonable that magic affects the electromagnetic field heavily, thus making (electronic) technology malfunction. Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 23:17

Most people read for the following reasons:

  • They enjoy reading. Many people enjoy reading on a wide variety of topics. I imagine this would be true in the Wizarding World (Hermione is a perfect example -- the wizard in your picture might be Muggleborn, thus have interests in both the wizarding and Muggle worlds.).
  • It's required reading for a class, such as Muggle Studies.
  • It's the current selection for a wizarding Book-of-the-Month Club.
  • It's required reading for wizard-Muggle liaison work.
  • Other

Finally, Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time just might be a bit of a more fascinating read than the following wizarding books:

  • Alas, I Have Transfigured My Feet (Hélas, Je me suis Transfiguré mes Pieds) by Malecrit
  • Broken Balls: When Fortunes Turn Foul (Author Unknown)
  • Encyclopedia of Toadstools (Author Unknown)
  • Hairy Snout, Human Heart by an anonymous werewolf
  • Charm Your Own Cheese by Gerda Curd
  • Muggles Who Notice by Blenheim Stalk
  • The Philosophy of the Mundane: Why Muggles Prefer Not to Know by Professor Mordicus Egg
  • Who Am I? by Gilderoy Lockhart
  • Sonnets of a Sorcerer (Everyone who read this cursed book spoke in limericks for the rest of their lives. Author unknown.)
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    Given a choice, I'd sit with Kreacher listening to Professor Binns reading out a copy of "Common Magical Ailments and Afflictions", rather than even glance at a Gilderoy Lockhart book. #bleauch Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 7:12
  • @TheDragonRiderwhoLived -- I'm with you! Well, okay, I might be persuaded to crack open Who Am I? purely for the schadenfreude factor. But, then again, it probably wouldn't be nice for me to point and laugh at a man in curlers, debilitated by his own ineptitude ;) ;) ;) Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 20:36
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    Who Am I? by Gilderoy Lockhart, famously followed by the post-memory-loss sequel Who Am I Againt? Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 12:15

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