Year: 2012

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

A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines. Is there a right or a wrong way to read literature? I doubt it. Whether you read for the story on the surface or include the layers underneath, the goal is a reading experience that touches you in some way or other. But many of us miss out on the depth of stories, simply because we do not know what to look for. This is where “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” come in. Thomas C. Foster is a knowledgable reader and teacher, who humbly and humorously shares a dollop of his insight regarding reading in “How to Read Literature Like a Professor”. This reading guide works partly due to Foster’s approach and partly due to his infectious love of reading. “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” is not the ultimate teacher’s guide to reading; it is a sample of how one gifted reader enjoys literature through the stories and the underlying layers of symbolism, themes, narrative tricks of the trade, and models …

Reading and Life

It is a presumptuous title, I know, but the interrelationship between reading and life is evident. Teenage girls go through a phase, reading “Wuthering Heights”, “The Twilight Saga”, and all things romantic. Pregnant women read “What to expect, when you’re expecting” and the like. Our motivations for reading may be many and diverse, but the result is always sitting down in our favorite chair/couch/sunbed to read a book or a whole truck load of books. Right now, I am in the opposite situation. The book on my night stand is gathering dust – figuratively speaking. I have not read in it for days. But I know why. I am restless. In a matter of days, I am packing up my family and home, moving 4000 kilometers back to my home town and/or into complete uncertainty – I have not decided yet. I’ll have a lovely, but temporary, roof over my head, no job, no income, and no day care for my son. Change with a capital C. Big time. With worst case scenarios, fantasies, speculations, …

All that I have – Castle Freeman Jr.

Small town, Vermont is the setting of Castle Freeman Jr.’s “All that I have” and it and its inhabitants become a character in this quaint little novel.  “All that I have” is a story of ordinariness and everyday life, but that does not mean that “All that I have” is anything less than spectacular.  Castle Freeman Jr. sees the nuances in everyday life and especially the main character, Sheriff Wing, who lives and sheriffs according a code he learned from his predecessor. Humor is what I loved most about “All that I have”. It is dry, witty, and served without canned applause – and it left me laughing out loud. The humor counterbalances the theme of ordinariness and the reserved nature of Sheriff Wing. What is the opposite of action-packed? That’s what “All that I have” is and the feat here is how beautifully, Castle Freeman Jr. executes it. Do not misunderstand: “All that I have” does contain action. There are silent and violent Russians, guns, a deputy who knows how to sheriff, a lawyer …

The Yard – Alex Grecian

In the aftermath of Scotland Yard’s failure to check Jack the Ripper, new murders and heinous crimes are piling up on the desks of the twelve detectives in the Murder Squad. New-comer Day is given the case regarding the murder of one of their own, stabbed to death and stuffed in a suitcase, and from that point a kaleidoscope of fascinating stories spring. “The Yard” is an action-packed Victorian crime novel that at the same time excels with its magnificent characters. Every character in “The Yard” is complete with a believable backstory. Alex Grecian shows his forte in the many changes in point of view and back flashes. Normally, alarm signals flare at the continuous back and forth, but Alex Grecian does not just make it work, he has created a fast-paced story around it. I especially like the scenes at the workhouse, where the same sequence of events is related from two different points of view in subsequent chapters. In many novels that take place in the Victorian era, the characters and story seems …

Reading lists as inspiration

100 Must-read books. 101 classic books.  Word literature reading list. I love them, although they sometimes seem a bit daunting or even intimidating. I mean, who reads “Ulysses” immediately followed my” War & Peace”? And – there are so many books, so little time. I find reading lists inspiring. I especially like motivated reading lists with short synopses and end up adding more titles to my personal, unwritten to-read-list. Another thing is I like checking which books I have already read from the lists, recalling the books, reading experience, and giving myself a figurative pat on the back for achievement. Nevertheless, you will not find a reading list or my own to-read-list on my blog. I do not follow any list, but read whatever I am in the mood for. That includes reading trashy novels and Great Novels, and matching them into specific points in time in my life. Reading is not just reading. Every book becomes a part of me and my life. Reading Kierkegaard is related to my paternal grandmother, who always spoke …

World’s Toughest Cops – Vinnie Jones

You may ask, why I have ”World’s Toughest Cops” in my home library. It was on one of these 2-for-something-sales at the airport, which I came across around 7 A.M. and it sounded action-packed. “World’s Toughest Cops” is a spin-off from the TV series, where Vinnie Jones, actor and former soccer player, tags along with police officers in various dangerous places around the world. Reading the book, I seriously doubt that Vinnie Jones wrote it, although it is narrated in the first person, despite the numerous comparisons between front-line police work and soccer. I refrain from further comment on that comparison. The interesting aspect of “World’s Toughest Cops” is the quick glimpse into national police forces of countries that I – at least – seldom hear or read about, for example South Africa, Papua New Guinea, Jamaica, and Kosovo. It is evident, that Vinnie Jones is searching for big action and extreme situations, although “World’s Toughest Cops” also gives emphasis to individual, inspirational police officers. Characterizing “World’s Toughest Cops” I would say, that is a …

March – Geraldine Brooks

”March” begins with the premise of what happens to Mr. March, when he leaves his little women and goes off to do his part in the Civil War? Mr. March is of course the absent father in Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” but “March” is a very different story than its point of inspiration. “March” is about a man of war, fighting not only the enemy, but his own past and principles. Mr. March serves as a chaplain and later he is appointed to a plantation where he serves as a teacher for the newly freed slaves. Equality. Pacifism. Vegetarianism. The right to education. These are some of the principles that Mr. March tries to bring forth. It is however, the more private Mr. March, I find interesting. He is the self-made man, who loses his fortune. He feels guilty about not being able to provide for his wife and girls the way he wants to. He struggles with his past and an encounter with a slave woman, and he berates himself for not being …