How To Read Literature Like A Professor Book Summary - How To Read Literature Like A Professor Book explained in key points
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How To Read Literature Like A Professor summary

Thomas C. Foster

A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines

4.1 (229 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster is a guidebook for readers who wish to get more from their reading. It teaches us how to understand and interpret symbolism, metaphors, and other narrative devices in literature.

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    How To Read Literature Like A Professor
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    Literary analysis uses memory, symbols and patterns to enrich our reading experience.

    What’s your favorite book? You’ve probably read it more than once. You may even know exactly how many times you’ve read it, but can you explain what it is about that book that keeps you coming back?

    The truth is that not all readers are created equal. Some of us only focus on the basic level of the story. That is, we follow what happens to a character – the choices they make and how those choices affect other characters.

    But it’s more than an exciting plotline and likeable characters that make a book our favorite. More experienced readers are able to tune into what happens on the emotional level of a book. They ask things like “Why did this passage make me feel that way?” or “Where have I seen this happen before?”

    By using the codes and patterns of literature, we can uncover the elements beneath the surface of the books we love. From archetypal characters to plot devices, narrative styles to literary references, there are dozens of these elements at play. So if you’re determined to become an able and experienced reader, where should you start?

    Well, it helps to group these elements into three major categories: memory, symbols and patterns.

    Memory refers to the way in which clever readers seek to make connections between the book they're reading now and others they’ve read before. They’ll ask themselves: “How does this character compare to others I’ve encountered?”

    A shrewd reader will also keep their eyes peeled for symbols – when an element in a story represents something other than itself. They’ll ask, “What does this event (or object, or place) stand for in the story?” Finally, the literary reader discerns patterns. An apparently trivial detail that crops up again and again in a story may speak volumes about the main character.

    In the next blink, we’ll dig a little deeper into the different elements that help us explore memory, symbols and patterns in a novel.

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    Key ideas in How To Read Literature Like A Professor

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    What is How To Read Literature Like A Professor about?

    How to Read Literature Like a Professor (2003) is an accessible and engaging introduction to literary analysis. With illuminating examples drawn from both classic and contemporary literature, these blinks provide readers with the tools they need to detect deeper meaning in any fictional text.

    Best quote from How To Read Literature Like A Professor

    Theres only one story. Ever. One. Its always been going on and its everywhere around us.

    —Thomas C. Foster
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    Who should read How To Read Literature Like A Professor?

    • Young readers who want to learn how to interpret literature
    • Anyone who wants to familiarize themselves with basic literary devices
    • Educators seeking support material for teaching literature

    About the Author

    Foster has been teaching literature since 1975. An English professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, his book has gained popularity among English teachers and students alike. Foster is also a speaker in many high schools across the United States, giving talks and workshops on how to teach and understand literature.

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