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How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A…
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How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide… (2003)

by Thomas C. Foster

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Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Boooooring.
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
This was a really great book for anyone to read , If you don't understand literature this will help you. For those who do understand it , Its still an excellent book to get into and to see what you already understand. I would recommend this book to everyone for some great reading. ( )
  LizzyRachel | Sep 16, 2015 |
In a lifetime of avid reading, I honestly never put much thought into what anything meant beyond the basic story itself. Not even the required English courses in high school and college provided me with the tools to search for symbolism or allegories or the like. I'm sure that teachers dutifully brought up the question of "so, what does this story mean?". Whether it was their fault, or mine -- my curiosity was never sparked enough to go beyond the surface layer of a story (be it a short story, a play, poetry, literature or a novel).

How to Read Literature Like a Professor (note: I read the first edition, not the new revised edition) was an eye-opener for me. While it's not the be-all/end-all resource for literary concepts, it has been a very good introduction to the topic. I will probably be reading literature with a new eye from now on. It doesn't mean, though, that henceforth all books I read will be discussed in this way.

As Professor Foster does point out by quoting Freud's statement "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar", yes sometimes a story is just there for the sake of story-telling. That's fine. However, Foster convinces me that one's reading can be enriched otherwise when looking beyond the basics; it's like unlocking a treasure box.

Not only does Foster touch upon varied devices such as symbolic references to Greek mythology, he also gives a good reminder: "don't read with your own eyes" (p. 228). What does the latter mean? It means that we need to try to read the work as it was intended by the author. He gives the example of "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin -- we need to try to read it as it was meant to be read back in 1957, and especially not from the perspective of whether addiction is good or bad, because it was meant to be about a relationship between two brothers.

I plan to pick up his other book, How to Read Novels like a Professor (and I'm sure he'll discuss the difference between "novels" and "literature"). ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Sep 8, 2015 |
How to Read Literature Like a Professor is a nice, easy-to-read book on identifying some of the patterns and motifs we come across as readers. It's certainly not a comprehensive list, but gives the budding bibliophile something more to look at than your simple book report topics: plot, setting, characters, and theme. There's a lot more going on in a story, and there's a lot more that an author puts into their works than just rain being rain or a death being a death.

Foster details how to look for some of these patterns in various pieces of literature in an easy to read style. This is not an in-depth look at literature; it's not critical analysis of how to read a book. It's simply: these are certain elements you might find in a story, and you're literary world will be more expansive than ever if you begin to make these connections, begin to read through the eyes of the writer and the time they lived in, and so on. Each book you read is an enlightening experience, in my opinion. So why not enlighten yourself even more by picking up on the cues and clues that writers have left over for their readers to dig through over generations into the future.

The chapters aren't too long, and could be useful for using in a high school English class. ( )
  jms001 | Jun 14, 2015 |
I'm not going to pretend that I needed to read a book that's Literary Symbolism 101. But it was funny, and I'm a sucker for funny. So not only did I get some good laughs, but I can now I can say wholeheartedly: if you, or a student of your acquaintance, needs a book on such a subject, this is the one to start with.

Ever try to write a sex scene? No, seriously. Tell you what: go try. In the interest of good taste, I'll request that you limit yourself to members of the same species and for clarity that you limit yourself to a mere pair of participants, but aside from that, no restrictions. Let 'em do whatever you want. Then when you come back, in a day, in a week, in a month, you'll have found out what most writers already know: describing two human beings engaging in the most intimate of shared acts is very nearly the least rewarding enterprise a writer can undertake.

Review from my blog, This Space Intentionally Left Blank ( )
  emepps | Jan 23, 2015 |
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For my sons, Robert and Nathan
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006000942X, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:15 -0400)

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.… (more)

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