Wrote this in 2017! Inspired by A Clockwork Reader on YouTube.
Traits: ambition, cunning and resourcefulness
I think it was really important to pick books that showed all sides of the Slytherin character, which is often imperfectly explored. I wanted to avoid the typical “dark” novels that (understandably) make up most of the reccomendations for this house and tried to choose books that would genuinely resonate with Slytherins instead of just playing up the “dark wizard” angle.
1) Sophie’s Choice
Main character, Sophie, is interesting because she is not a heroine in the true sense of the word, yet she and her actions are undeniably the main focus of the novel. She isn’t guided by conventional moral principles, so her actions to the outsider would result in them forming the opinion that she is ruthless and manipulative, but when rightly understood reveal her intensely strong sense of loyalty and immense drive to do whatever it takes to protect what is important to her.
I think Slytherins would in general be intrigued by stories from concentration camps/war. When civilised society is at and end and it’s every man for themself, it is interesting to see how strong the human instinct for survival is, easily overriding our values and morals. Slytherins would, perhaps, say that times of hardship showcase the true character of the human race- as a species who are devoted to survival, and who will go to any lengths to keep what they treasure safe.
2) To Kill a Mockingbird
The main character Scout is, to me, a Gryffindor-Slytherin hybrid. I put her under Slytherin because I wanted to show how “Slytherin” does not automatically mean “evil”. Scout possesses all of the traits a Slytherin is meant to have- ambition, cunning, and resourcefulness- and uses these traits to navigate the world around her as she grows and learns about friendship, loyalty, and justice.
I think Scout is a really good example of the idea that one’s character traits are not necessarily indicative of their motives or principles. The connotations of these adjectives notwithstanding, a shy person does not necessarily wish to isolate themselves, a calculative person does not necessarily advocate deceitfulness, and a brave person is not necessarily a hero.
3) Memoirs of a Geisha
Extremely Slytherin-y. In Chiyo’s world, nothing is off-limits when one wants to climb to the top. The people in this book are mostly struggling to make a name for themselves in a highly competitive environment, which a lot of Slytherin will be able to relate to.
I think an interesting part of the book (and also a very Slytherin-y part) is that every character in the book is intensely and fully human, in every sense of the word. Noblity, chivalry, love and honour live hand-in-hand with cunning, ruthlessness, hatred and deceit. Slytherins, of all the houses, are the most interesting to me because they best showcase the full complexity of human character. No one is either fully good or fully bad, and I feel that this book is a good illustration of the duality of human nature, which I think Slytherins would be able to understand.
4) Game of Thrones
Cutthroat characters, intense storyline, power, loyalty. The entire series is one long, carefully planned, blood-filled struggle to come out on top.
I think it’s interesting to have undeniably wrong crimes like child sexual exploitation explained by the perpetrator. This is a theme which Slytherins would definitely be interested in, since they often live in the grey area of morality because they are driven to succeed at any cost.
The protagonist, Humbert Humbert, displays distinctly Slytherin traits such as ambition (to be recognised for his literary talent, his narcissism, need to be admired), manipulativeness (exploitation of main character and psychologists), and willingness to do anything to succeed (decieving Lo’s mother, crossing the country with Lo to avoid detection, elaboate traps). Humbert commits one of the most taboo crimes, yet, he has his own bizarre justifications for his actions, but because of his eloquence makes the reader sympathise with him while abhorring him at the same time. I think it would be interesting for Slytherins to experience this, as it is something they are probably well able to do or have done. They can, in a sense, “understand” the main character.