How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

 

How To Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster - Cover
Source: Goodreads

How To Read Literature Like a Professor

Thomas C. Foster

Paperback, 314 pages
Published March 1st 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published February 18th 2003)
 
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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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

"An understanding of the story in terms of what literally happens...is a great starting point. From there, if you consider the pattern of images and allusions, you'll begin to see more going on...that will enrich and deepen your experience of the story."

To be honest, I thought this book would be bit elitist and snobbish but I was WRONG. This book is not only highly entertaining and readable, but it's bulging with valuable, doable steps to enrich your reading experiences. 

I'm sad to say that I never learned any of this in high school. Surprising, right? Oh, I was a great student - one with a 4.0 GPA that learned very little. I memorized everything for the exams and performed a brain dump the moment the exam was over. It was not until I attended college (on an academic scholarship no less) that the level of disservice I had inflicted upon myself became apparent. Suffice it to say, I am grateful for my changed attitude toward learning and for this book. 

Here, the author deftly guides you through the important components of writing: memory, symbol, and pattern. He gives you loads of interesting and fun literary examples to help you recognize these components, ponder them, and to draw conclusions of what they mean or represent to you. One of the most enlightening steps for me was Reader Perspective; How important it is to understand the author's background, the setting, environment, the general knowledge base for the time period, and to set aside my own views in order to more fully experience the story and relate to the characters. 

I especially appreciated his closing suggestions: to read things you like, read good writing, and have fun doing it! If I employ even one of the steps or suggestions in this book, I'll be a better reader for it. You might be, too. Give it a try.

 

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Happy Reading!

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