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How to Read Novels Like a Professor: A…

How to Read Novels Like a Professor: A Jaunty Exploration of the World's… (2008)

by Thomas C. Foster

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I read How to Read Literature Like a Professor early last year, and was pleasantly entertained and informed by his conversational introduction to symbols and motifs common in literature. In this book, he specifically looks at the novel including how the beginning teaches you to read the novel (and grabs or fails to grab the reader), chapter breaks, ambiguity, and how the history of the novel informs its form - and how authors have been playing with this ever since.

I found this book every bit as entertaining as the first, if more loosely structured. I really like Foster's approach in encouraging a variety of readers and interpretations. I greatly appreciate that he doesn't expect everyone to read like him or enjoy the same things that he does; in fact, I'm almost positive that he and I are very different readers, as I still like my novels to have less ambiguity and more finality in their endings than he clearly does. When I was an English major as an undergraduate, my experience was much less an "Aha!" and much more a "Where do professors come up with this stuff?" If, like me, you tend to take literature at its more literal level and don't get the postmodern or even just the symbolism that your English teacher said was there, you may get a lot of out these titles too. ( )
1 vote bell7 | Feb 11, 2014 |
I was hoping for a light, reasonably simple book that would help me stay alert to things I might be missing in my reading--and this book may very well provide that. However, I read a few chapters of this and found the tone kind of obnoxious, as if the author is trying to hard to keep it light and friendly to people who are intimidated by literary analysis. But there's a fine line between being accessible and assuming your readers don't understand anything. In the first couple of chapters, he made several points that seemed obvious to me (that the opening of a novel is a seduction or that a book might have certain expectations of the reader) and then explains that I, the reader, almost certainly think he's crazy for thinking this. Clearly, I'm not the reader he expects, and so I'm not going to spend more time on this.
  teresakayep | Oct 27, 2013 |
Not as good as "how to read literature like a professor" by the same author. That one is better.
This book gets far too deep into theory and has to remind the reader about 1000 times that novels are made up stories. It really got old. ( )
  gpaisley | Apr 28, 2012 |
I love books. You know that about me. But what probably you don’t know is that there are some books that I don’t like, some books I actually hate. Yes, it’s true. I hate textbooks.

I loathe textbooks. I hate the pompous, condescending tone of textbooks. I hate the know-it-all attitude of textbooks. I hate the way textbooks act like they don’t have to try to be well-written; textbooks know people will be read them anyway because people are forced to read them. I hate textbooks.

So I will say, sadly, that I found this book to be a textbook. There is, sadly, nothing jaunty about this book. I liked How to Read Literature Like a Professor, this author’s previous book. But maybe Foster used up all his jauntiness in that book. In any case, I was bored to death reading this book and that’s a shame. ( )
  debnance | Jul 30, 2011 |
I HATE the title of this book. But the book itself was worthwhile. Very accessible, it's both a reminder of forgotten lessons from high school and college literature classes and, for me, a provider of some new considerations in reading a novel. It made me want to go back and re-read some novels I've very much enjoyed but (it's clear to me now) missed so much. [The Known World], [Beloved], [Arthur and George], [To the Lighthouse] -- to name just a few.

For many this book would be too basic and I admit to some embarrassment that it didn't seem too basic for my current needs. But I suspect that Foster, himself, would tell me to skip the self-abnegation and get on with having conversations with novelists. ( )
  EBT1002 | May 15, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061340405, Paperback)

Of all the literary forms, the novel is arguably the most discussed . . . and fretted over. From Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote to the works of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and today's masters, the novel has grown with and adapted to changing societies and technologies, mixing tradition and innovation in every age throughout history.

Thomas C. Foster—the sage and scholar who ingeniously led readers through the fascinating symbolic codes of great literature in his first book, How to Read Literature Like a Professor—now examines the grammar of the popular novel. Exploring how authors' choices about structure—point of view, narrative voice, first page, chapter construction, character emblems, and narrative (dis)continuity—create meaning and a special literary language, How to Read Novels Like a Professor shares the keys to this language with readers who want to get more insight, more understanding, and more pleasure from their reading.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:34 -0400)

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