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How to Read Literature Like a Professor (original 2014; edition 2009)

by Thomas C. Foster

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2,375642,637 (3.86)119
Member:Donna828
Title:How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Authors:Thomas C. Foster
Info:Harper Perennial (2009), Edition: 1, Kindle Edition, 340 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Book about Books, Read in 2012

Work details

How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster (2014)

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» See also 119 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
Whether you're a relatively new reader of literature or you have decades of reading experience under your belt, you're sure to learn something from this book to enrich your future reading experience. Although I'm convinced that I will never achieve Foster's depth of analysis, Foster has also convinced me that reading is a skill that I can improve through practice. Foster reassures his readers/students that ”if the story is good and the characters work but you don't catch allusions and references and parallels, then you've done nothing worse than read a good story with memorable characters. If you begin to pick up on some of these other elements, these parallels and analogies, however, you'll find your understanding of the novel deepens and becomes more meaningful, more complex.” So, it's not like I've been reading the wrong way all these years, but I can work at becoming a better reader and have a better appreciation of what I read. I'll be referring to this book often from here on out. Highly recommended. ( )
5 vote cbl_tn | Nov 12, 2016 |
I enjoyed this guide to reading literature. The author is a college professor and this book is a short course in how to study and appreciate literature. It gives the reader a broad overview of literature; the origins, themes and motifs, narrative devices. He uses poems, short story, plays, movies, and songs. So I guess it is fitting to give the Nobel for literature to a song writer. Finally you get to practice what you've learned on the short story The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield. I've read that particular short story for a total of 3 times now since reading this book. The book also contains a list of novels, poems, and plays that he recommends to the reader. This book will add to your tbr. ( )
  Kristelh | Oct 30, 2016 |
This is a great guide for all of us who love to read but whose education was at the other end of the campus. His style is informal, chatty and humorous -- now that he has the cautiously curious in his room, he doesn't want to scare us off with concepts that seem dry or irrelevant. He wants to show us how to apply these ideas so that our deeper understanding of the book will take our enjoyment of it to a new plane. "Reading literature is a highly intellectual activity, but it also involves affect and instinct to a large degree. Much of what we think about literature, we feel first. Having instincts, though, doesn’t automatically mean they work at their highest level. Dogs are instinctual swimmers, but not every pup hits the water understanding what to do with that instinct. Reading is like that, too. The more you exercise the symbolic imagination, the better and quicker it works."
He illustrates his ideas with numerous works of different types, and doesn't restrict them to the classics. Popular modern books (eg Inspector Banks) are as easily discussed as the traditional classics and are mixed in with occasional movies too.
"... when writers send characters south, it’s so they can run amok....Conrad’s visionaries, Lawrence’s searchers, Hemingway’s hunters, Kerouac’s hipsters, Paul Bowles’s down-and-outers and seekers, Forster’s tourists, Durrell’s libertines—all head south, in more senses than one".
For instance, vampires and other monsters are explained in terms of "...exploitation in its many forms. Using other people to get what we want. Denying someone else’s right to live in the face of our overwhelming demands. Placing our desires, particularly our uglier ones, above the needs of another." The vampire/monster thinks, ' In order to remain undead, I must steal the life force of someone whose fate matters less to me than my own.' Foster says, "I’ve always supposed that Wall Street traders utter essentially the same sentence. My guess is that as long as people act toward their fellows in exploitative and selfish ways, the vampire will be with us."
You can't go wrong with someone who can so easily link vampires with Wall Street. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Boooooring.
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas C. Fosterprimary authorall editionscalculated
de Vries, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gubkin, Sarah MayaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, JarrodCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For my sons, Robert and Nathan
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Preface
The amazing thing about books is how they have lives of their own.
Introduction
Mr. Lindner? That Milquetoast?
Okay, so here's the deal: let's say, purely hypothetically, you're reading a book about an average sixteen-year-old kid in the summer of 1968.
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This is NOT the "For Kids" edition.
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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)

(summary from another edition)

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