Friday, February 13, 2015

Review: How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines – Thomas C. Foster

How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines – Thomas C. Foster


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.

Review: I think "Lively and Entertaining" is a bit of an overstatement, but this is one of the most readable books about literary analysis I've come across. Most of them are so boring that they're nearly impossible to get through. I had no trouble getting through this, and my reading list is now a little longer. The author mentions a few books that sound very interesting.

If you already have an English degree (or several), then you probably won't learn anything from this book. If you read a lot and think deeply about what you read, then you probably won't learn anything from this book. It only provides a very basic overview of irony and the most common symbols in literature. Some of the symbols that the author discusses are so obvious that they didn't need explaining. Most readers would be intelligent enough to figure them out for themselves.

I was hoping that this book would have a little more depth and be a little less western-centric. The author ignores half of the world. What about the irony and symbols in Eastern literature? I want to know about those.

I would recommend this book to high school students and anyone who hasn't taken literature classes. Those people would get the most benefit from it.



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