How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines

How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Thomas C Foster

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  • Publisher: HARPER PERENNIAL
  • Format: Paperback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 135mm x 201mm x 28mm | 249g
  • Publication date: 1 March 2003
  • Publication City/Country: New York, NY
  • ISBN 10: 006000942X
  • ISBN 13: 9780060009427
  • Edition: 1
  • Sales rank: 2,616

Product description

What does it mean when a fictional hero takes a journey?. Shares a meal? Gets drenched in a sudden rain shower? Often, there is much more going on in a novel or poem than is readily visible on the surface--a symbol, maybe, that remains elusive, or an unexpected twist on a character--and there's that sneaking suspicion that the deeper meaning of a literary text keeps escaping you.In this practical and amusing guide to literature, Thomas C. Foster shows how easy and gratifying it is to unlock those hidden truths, and to discover a world where a road leads to a quest; a shared meal may signify a communion; and rain, whether cleansing or destructive, is never just rain. Ranging from major themes to literary models, narrative devices, and form, How to Read Literature Like a Professor is the perfect companion for making your reading experience more enriching, satisfying, and fun.

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Customer reviews

By Herma Klaassen 15 Feb 2013 5

Thomas C. Foster explains the different elements of reading and to understand different aspects of literature in this book.

He writes the book in a way that you want to keep on reading. I personally like the names of the chapters. Which make me giggle regularly.

Sometimes he uses the best bits first. He drops a bombshell in a chapter and then he tones it down which makes the chapter sometimes too good to be true or something you did not expect, but he doesn't get sidetracked from the subject.

His tone is always a bit sarcastic or ironic, but that makes the book lively and easy to read.

I work as an English teacher and use literature in my work and occasionally I use this book for further explanations on literature in class. We also use this book in teacher training schools in the Netherlands and I think this is very good.

I have read this book many times and I like it very much. It is a must have for any person who wants to know more about literature.

By Kim 06 Jan 2013 4

Foster's guide to reading literature like a professor does exactly that -- help us to see symbolism, meaning, preformed patterns and adaptations of those patterns in literature. He constantly refers to a variety of text to support his argument and tell us how to read literature like he does. And many of his examples are so easily seen that if you actually read the texts(I'm talking about the reference works and not his novel), you have a hard time finding what is it that he finds. Foster talks you through a variety of styles and explains where they are found in literature. What he misses though, is the purpose to why they are used as sometimes he skims over this and gives us an overall summary instead.

The chapter titles are quirky and the content is certainly delightful. It's as if he's there talking you through what you should be looking for when reading, like a teacher/professor. However, what he doesn't do is give us techniques on how to see what he sees. Sure he can give examples since he's already there but he doesn't give us a checklist of what we should be looking for as a whole while looking at text, although there are checklists for some symbolism but not as a whole. Instead, I think what he has in mind is to look for these things (symbolism, geography, season, etc) and ask ourselves questions on why the author has their character do what they do and be where they are as well as how they react to experiences along the way, which is hard because he expects you to already have some background into literature, which I'm sure, many won't.

At first, it was hard to get into but as you read further, you become familiar with his style. A bonus was also an example story from Mansfield where he has us to analyse it having finished reading all his chapters. Whilst I didn't do it (yep, I'm only just a little guilty), his explanations were definitely helpful as well as his student's interpretations. I wish that there were more of these exercises and or a checklist just to help me while reading but it doesn't and that is where I feel the book lacked a bit. This is because he doesn't tell us to ANALYSE. He shows us the outcome of analysis but never the process of it and this was what I was looking for when I bought it.

Though this was helpful and gave me new insight into literature, it definitely shouldn't be relied on as the only basis for reading literature as it is impossible to cover all aspects of literature, and because it doesn't. It's a great read. Foster also gives us references to his favourite works and works that he thinks we should read and could practise analysing with. Overall, for a $7 book, it was definitely worth it but if you, like me, are a literature student or just someone who likes reading and analysing books, you definitely can consult this as your first reference book and as an overview to the big world of literature but you should definitely not stop with this one. There are other literature books that can help you with your understanding but this book is foundation for further reading.