Shortform Reads: A Shameless Harry Potter Superfan

Why did Megan make the transition from fiction to non-fiction books? What lesser-known book does she wish more people knew about?

Megan works as a book guide writer at Shortform, making educational guides that help readers gain insight into their favorite books and become exposed to new ideas. She’s originally from the United States but recently made a big life change and moved to Brazil with her husband.

Our Interview With Megan

Here’s what Megan had to say about some of her favorite books, authors, genres, and more.

What’s your favorite book?

I have to go cliché on this one. I’m shamelessly a huge Harry Potter fan. The author succeeded at creating a magical world that had an enormous impact on me and millions of others across generations. To this day, nothing gives me the same sense of comfort and wonder as curling up with a Harry Potter book.

What are you reading these days?

If you don’t count the books I read for my work here at Shortform, I’ve recently been exploring books on psychology and relationships in my free time, such as Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman. I’m a big advocate of mental health, so I spend a lot of time reading books that help me better understand myself and how I interact with others.

What’s your favorite genre?

I enjoy reading anything in the realm of self-improvement, psychology, and relationships. I feel that by reading these books, I can increase my level of self-awareness and more positively impact the world.

Are there any book genres or tropes that you dislike or refuse to read?

I don’t think there’s any type of book I’d downright refuse to read! Of course, there are genres I’m not naturally drawn to, but I’d be willing to give anything a go if someone suggested it. I value exposing myself to different perspectives, so ultimately I consider it a good thing to venture into uncharted waters!

What’s your favorite way to read a book?

Although I love the experience of reading a physical book, I often find myself reading from the digital copy because it’s more practical—portable, doesn’t take up space in my home, more conducive to note-taking, and so forth. That being said, on the off chance I do get the opportunity to flip through some crisp pages, I enjoy doing it on a rainy day, curled up under a blanket, and with a warm beverage.

What books do you think everyone should read in their lifetime?

There’s so much powerful literature out there that answering this question would be impossible. My overall recommendation is that you take the time to read books that open your mind to new or opposing viewpoints. From my experience, the more you learn about the “other,” the more kindly you treat those around you.

Who are your favorite authors?

Just as I don’t have favorite music artists or albums, I don’t really have favorite authors. I enjoy books written by countless authors, and the reasons I’m drawn to them rarely have to do with the particular characteristics of the author’s writing.

How have your reading tastes changed over the years?

As a kid, I loved reading fiction. But, once I entered college and had to spend the majority of my time reading for classes, I fell out of the habit. It wasn’t until I left school that I picked up reading for pleasure again, and by that point I found myself drawn to non-fiction. In fact, the first thing I did after graduation was start to read Time Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Best Non-Fiction Books.

How many have you made it through so far?

This is an ongoing project for me because I like to read lots of different books! So far I’ve gotten through around 15 on this list, read in no particular order. The books I’ve enjoyed the most are those that have taught me about topics I probably would’ve never explored organically, such as Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, which talks about the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen, which explores the environmental and animal welfare impacts of three different food chains: industrial food, organic food, and food we forage ourselves.

Was there a specific book that sparked your love of reading?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone! When I was six years old, my dad took my sister and me to see the first movie in theaters. I immediately fell in love with the story and wanted to read the book. The rest is history!

Do you have any guilty pleasure books?

The original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga! It’s a guilty pleasure because the way I got into it was by watching the American TV show as a kid. But if I told you I watched it only as a kid, I’d be lying. I’ve seen the whole series three times—most recently in college!

What’s an interesting fact that you learned from a book recently?

I’m not sure you could call this a fact, but learning about the concept of “repair attempts” from John Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work has had a large impact on my marriage. A repair attempt is basically something that you do or say—usually in a kind or lighthearted manner—that prevents a heated discussion from getting out of control. When you feel the tension rising, you can de-escalate by doing things like offering a hug, making a joke, or even sticking out your tongue. It’s been an enormously effective tool in handling conflict within my relationship.

Have any books you’ve read caused you to make any life changes or to change or develop any habits?

Oh, so many! I’m constantly learning from books. One that made a particularly large impact on the way I live my life is Expectation Hangover by Christine Hassler. As someone who has historically struggled with control and expectations, I’ve felt much more at peace with life since reading this book.

What’s your favorite quote from a book or an author?

“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” (J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

What are your favorite book adaptations?

I feel like a broken record here, but the Harry Potter series! It’s not perfect, but ultimately they were able to recreate the magic of the books, and I think that’s what’s most important.

Are there any lesser-known books that you’ve read that you want others to know exist?

Of This River by Noah Davis. It’s a series of poems centered on rural life in the Allegheny region of Appalachia and the human-to-nature connection. Noah is an incredibly talented poet whose work I cannot recommend highly enough!

At Shortform, how do you go about working on a book that has viewpoints you don’t agree with?

While it can be frustrating to spend a significant amount of time reading and writing about ideas that I disagree with, I also appreciate the experience. To summarize and expand on an author’s ideas, I have to understand them well, so I’m forced to really listen to what they have to say. To avoid getting too critical and inserting my own bias, I try to maintain balance by ensuring that all viewpoints surrounding a particular idea are represented in the guide.

What are your favorite books in the Shortform library and why?

I think Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski is a must-read for women and men alike! It explores women’s sexuality from a scientific perspective to change the way that women talk, think, and feel about their own sexuality due to years of misinformation and harmful cultural messaging. It’s not a book that Shortform customers would likely naturally seek out, but it contains so much important and empowering information.

Another book that I find really thought-provoking is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It explores two opposing attitudes toward life and really makes you appreciate seeing the world from different perspectives as you read—something I think we all need some practice in these days.

  • The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
  • Expectation Hangover by Christine Hassler
  • Of This River by Noah Davis
  • Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen

About the Series

Here at Shortform, we want to give our employees names and faces so you can get to know the people who make the magic happen. That’s why we’re doing this series where we interview our employees and share their thoughts and opinions. You can check out more employee interviews here.

Shortform Reads: A Shameless Harry Potter Superfan

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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