How to Read a Novel

How to Read a Novel : A User's Guide

3.05 (284 ratings by Goodreads)
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John Sutherland takes the reader on a literary journey from the first English novels of three hundred years ago to the present avalanche of ten thousand a year. In a series of informed and intelligent conversations set around a variety of exemplary texts he shows that reading a novel is not a spectator sport, but an intense participatory activity. People of all ages, classes and nationalities read novels - Sutherland gives us new insights into what we read, new questions to pose and the means to pursue more

Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 130 x 197mm
  • Profile Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 186197986X
  • 9781861979865
  • 769,459

Review quote

"'Engaging, intelligent.' The Times 'Sutherland takes us on a swift and entertaining tour of fiction's engine room... Passionate about his subject... he reminds us, quoting Paul Auster, "it is the reader who writes the book and not the writer".' TLS 'I can't think of anyone better qualified, anyone with quite the same combination of pizzazz, technical know-how and sheer enthusiasm as Professor Sutherland.' Independent on Sunday"show more

About John Sutherland

John Sutherland was until recently a Professor of English Literature at University College London. He has twice been on the Man Booker Prize committee, in 2005 as chairman. He is a regular columnist for the Guardian and frequently appears as a critic on radio and more

Rating details

284 ratings
3.05 out of 5 stars
5 6% (17)
4 28% (79)
3 39% (111)
2 20% (56)
1 7% (21)

Our customer reviews

<p>With so many books being published -- 10,000 a month in general, and 10,000 novels per year, in the UK alone -- there is an understandable urge for books of lists to help us navigate our way through the deluge. Since postmodernism levelled the playing field between high and low art there is, it seems, a palpable nervousness about judging books, so we look to reviewers, critics, book groups, bloggers to help us find our next good read.</p> <p>John Sutherland is Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London and a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology. He has published twenty books (including <a href="">Is Heathcliff a Murderer? Great Puzzles in 19th Century Fiction</a> and his memoir <a href="">The Boy who Loved Books</a>) and was chairman of the 2005 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Surely he can tell us <a href="">How to Read a Novel</a> and which ones to bother with?</p> <p>Well, sadly, this is a pretty disappointing book. It doesn't have the charm or the scope of other lists books, like Peter Boxall's handsome <a href="">1001 Books: You Must Read Before You Die </a>or Time Out's <a href="">1000 Books to Change Your Life</a>, indeed it eschews the role of advocacy from the very beginning and spends most of its pages discussing the mechanics of novels: how the novel arose; why certain titles are chosen over others. Sutherland is pretty good with his brief history of the codex book, and quirky when he tells us what we can learn from copyright pages and the date when a novel was published (pre- and post-publication of <a href="">Lady Chatterley's Lover</a> after the UK obscenity trial in 1960 is important here). He is wry and amusing, and also very good at gossip, odd literary anecdotes and why book blurbs should be disbelieved. But he never delves deeply enough into any of his subjects to make the case for why we should be diverted by his error-strewn book when they are so many much, much better ones crying out to be read.</p>show more
by Mark Thwaite
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