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 – all illuminated through examples from literature. I have only read a couple of the books or stories, Foster uses, but his points are clear and concise anyway.
Chapter 27 includes a test case with the short story “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield, where the reader has the opportunity to apply everything from chapters 1 – 26 with a couple of gifted readers’ opinions to follow.
One of the things, I have learnt from “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” is slowing down. Sure, some books are more of the read-all-you-can variety, and I love those too, but sometimes I need to slow down and savor books and stories more – and perhaps – hopefully – catch a glimpse of the underlaying themes and symbolism.
I believe, the more you read, the better reader you become, which raises the question of whether a guide like Foster’s is a short-cut. No, is my answer. “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” is more of a refresher course to reading in depth. Readers and writers alike should read “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” regularly.