House traits: ambitious, cunning, resourceful, shrewd, achievement-oriented, planner, strong leader, sense of self-preservation, disregard for rules, self-interested, exclusive (but with strong ties within exclusive groups)
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, by Oscar Wilde - horror - Slytherins care a lot about power, we know that much. Power comes from different sources and in different forms though, and in this classic you’ll find a man that goes above and beyond to gain the particular kind of power that comes with youth and beauty, and he will do anything to maintain it. On top of all that, this book has a really weird/great mix of decadence and elegance that gives it a very unique feel that I think a Slytherin would quite appreciate.
SNOBS, by Julian Fellowes - fiction - Set in England in the 1990s, Snobs is a kind of fictional tell-all on Edith Lavery, a social climbing young woman who is determined to marry well, and ends up nabbing a kind but extremely dull Earl. Edith is perfectly aware that she is marrying a man who bores her to death for his money and position, and the reader follows this unapologetically cunning and ambitious woman as she navigates the ups and downs of life in the British upper class.
THE PRINCE, by Machiavelli - non fiction - In what is possibly the most Slytherin work ever, Machiavelli breaks with the Catholic doctrine of his time to counsel princes that the actions of State leaders need not be guided by the morality of the common man. The ends of the Prince (survival, honor, glory) justify the means used to achieve them. This has greatly influenced the Realist theory of International Reations, and Niccòlo’s advice is still interesting even for the non-politically inclined Slytherin: for example, the advice that a Prince should not leave his fate to chance, but rather make his own fortune, through hard work, prudence, virtue (not the Catholic kind), risk-taking and the ability to adapt to different circumstances.
PERFUME, by Patrick Süskind - historical fiction; horror - Ok, so you might think this book only highlights the more stereotypical side of the Slytherin house, but hear me out: here you have a story that portrays ambition, dedication, power, and clearly set goals in a way that you don’t really find in a lot of books. You get the chance to read about a man who is capable of doing anything in order to fulfill his goal, and who learns how to deal with people in a way that benefits him. What is also great about this book is that you get to read about a kind of power that is not really related to money, but to something that you might not even associate with the idea of power: smells. This books is also written beautifully, in such a way that you don’t even understand how descriptions of filth and shit can sound so poetic.
DEVIL IN WINTER, by Lisa Kleypas - historical romance - Cunning, resourceful and quite amoral, the “hero” of this novel is your quintessential Slytherin. He made some (less than favourable) appearances in other novels in this series (which you don’t have to read in order), and in Devil in Winter, he enters into a marriage of convenience with a woman he barely knows (who’s escaping abusive relatives) because she’s a heiress. Now isn’t it adorable when a Slytherin falls in love and puts all that ruthlessness and shrewdness in service of their loved one?
THE HEIRESS EFFECT, by Courtney Milan - historical romance - There is no question that the hero in this historical romance is a huge Slytherin. A son of a farmer who is making his way to the top, he is really, really, REALLY ambitious, a natural leader, and not above doing extremely morally dubious things to achieve his ends, either. Would he give up all his plans for the love of a woman who is wrong for him in every way?
MASTER OF CROWS, by Grace Draven - fantasy romance - Master of Crows is about Silhara, a renegade wizard who is tempted into selling his soul for the promise of limitless power, and Martise, a slave who volunteers to spy on him and betray him in order to win her own freedom. As they fall in love, their needs and ambitions pull them in different directions.
DIPLOMACY, by Henry Kissinger - non fiction - If you’re a Slytherin who’s into history or politics, this is fascinating stuff. Kissinger writes about some of History’s greatest leaders and diplomats, like Richelieu, Metternich and Bismarck, and discusses at length the power plays in international politics.
THE GREAT GATSBY, by F. Scott Fitzgerald - fiction - I mean… do I even have to say anything? If they read Muggle books, this one (a super rare first edition or something like that, probably) would totally be in the Malfoys’ personal library.
THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, by Isabel Allende - magical realism - A family saga where class and ambition are very clearly depicted. Two things make it even better and add a bit of diversity to the Slytherin house: it’s focuses on three generations of women, and it’s set in a Latin American country.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS, by Emily Brontë - romance - Ah, if this isn’t a great source of Slytherin angst! Besides Catherine and Heathcliff’s dramatic love story that most of you probably know pretty well, here it’s precisely in Heathcliff that you get to see just how effectively Slytherins can use their drive and resourcefulness to get where they want in life.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, by Thomas Hardy - romance - Bathsheba Everdene, a young and independent woman, comes into an inheritance that leads her to Weatherbury, where she has to deal with tons of shitty people and difficult situations in order to make a name for herself in a time and place where women are at a clear disadvantage. You’ll find in Bathsheba a clever Slytherin woman that knows exactly her worth; who uses her ambition, intelligence and resourcefulness to be the master of her own life and destiny, and to build a place for her within a society that continually tries to dominate her.
CRAZY RICH ASIANS, by Kevin Kwan - contemporary - There are lots of threads to this book. You have super rich, ultra-elitist people who will do anything to stop the “undesirables” from marrying into their Noble and Most Ancient family. You have ambitious, cunning people who would trample all over everyone, including their children, to achieve their ends. You also have privileged but kind people trying to balance their wants with what is expected of them by their family and their social circle. Lots of Slytherins in this highly entertaining story. The sequel China Rich Girlfriend is already out, btw.