I have readthan a few books of this sort This one stands above the crowd While the material may not be particularly novel, it does pull together core truths about how literature can be understood, and communicates that information in a very accessible manner It has made a world of difference in my approach to reviewing I made my teenagers read this, back when they were actually teenagers Revised and re released May 16, 2017 This book is pure joy to read While learning a few new secrets of writing, it was exciting to explore all the book titles mentioned in the book.The author uses a casual tone to introduce the magic of serious reading to the reader Some of it is old news, others, instinct and common sense, such as recognizing patterns and story elements, but new information, for me at least, was also added For instance, that many works attributed to Shakespeare might not have been his at all.Although I would love to share my views on the content of the book, since that is the most exciting part of it, I would restrict myself to the book itself The chapter headings says it all 1 Every trip is a Quest 2 Nice to eat with you Acts od Communion 3 Nice to eat you Acts of Vampires 4 If it s square, it s a sonnet 5 Now, where have I seen her before 6 When in Doubt, it s from Shakespeare 7 or the Bible 8 Hanseldee and Greteldum 9 It s Greek to me 10 More than just rain or snow andof the same.And suddenly I amexcited than ever before, although I figured out some of these issues in the book already, like for instance, the borrowing from Greek mythology In Light Between The Oceans by M.L Stedman, the Greek god Janus formed the backbone of the story, and that characters such as Mr Darcy in Jane Austen s Pride and Prejudice, inspired many others in romance novels We find Dracula inthan one storyline, and Shakespeare in a multitude of other contemporary novels long before the Hogarth project was launched in 2016 Of course my recent favorite in this regard is Ian McEwan s Nutshell in which Fetus Cairncross as I dubbed him, became Hamlet in utero, and the author was not even part of the Hogarth Project The author highlights other books which royally borrowed from the greatest author of all times QUICK QUIZ What do John Cleese, Cole Porter, Moonlighting, and Death Valley Days have in common No, they re not part of some Communist plot All were involved with some version of The Taming of the ShrewIf you look at any literary period between the eighteenth and twenty first centuries, you ll be amazed by the dominance of the Bard He s everywhere, in every literary form you can think of And he s never the same every age and every writer reinvents its own Shakespeare All this from a man who we re still not sure actually wrote the plays that bear his name.Try this In 1982 Paul Mazursky directed an interesting modern version of The Tempest It had an Ariel figure Susan Sarandon , a comic but monstrous Caliban Raul Julia , and a Prospero famed director John Cassavetes , an island, and magic of a sort The film s title Tempest. Woody Allen reworked A Midsummer Night s Dream as his film A Midsummer Night s Sex Comedy West Side Story famously reworks Romeo and which resurfaces again in the 1990s, in a movie featuring contemporary teen culture and automatic pistols And that s a century or so after Tchaikovsky s ballet based on the same play.The BBC series Masterpiece Theatre has recast Othello as a contemporary story of black police commissioner John Othello, his lovely white wife Dessie, and his friend Ben Jago, deeply resentful at being passed over for promotion The action will surprise no one familiar with the original.Nor is the Shakespeare adaptation phenomenon restricted to the stage and screen Jane Smiley rethinks King Lear in her novel A Thousand Acres.I m insanely thrilled with this book For many of us it is impossible to attend literature lectures and have forgotten most of the ones we did honor with our presence, many years ago So this is it Read the book and become wiser The information might not be unfamiliar to many of us, but it certainly deepens our experience of serious books Then there is the many references to Bible stories, and once again, Ian McEwan, uses the wisdom of Solomon in his book The Children s Act to solve a serious situation when the Jehova s Witnesses and The State have to compromise on a minor child s life So yes, I m jumping up and down Nothing is new, says the Bible, psychologists and sociologists Remember the Pavlov experiments with dogs and mice It is still used today to solve behavioural problems No story is therefor new It is just told differently as time goes on The book made me think again About a letter my mom once wrote me to warn me against a unsavory character trying to enter my life She said nothing was new, the rules would always remain the same, only time and setting changed The story line would not change, only the characters in it will have different names She changed my life I was nineteen years old and needed to know that when I did not recognize the difference between a he hussy and a perfumed skunk.I was wondering if a person who never read Shakespeare, told his story, if it can be regarded as a Shakespearean borrow if some elements to it was similar Would it be fair And someone who don t know the Bible could have a similar experience as a Bible character Human behaviour patterns, different personality types, cultures, social s and values play the most important role in how characters in a story will act or react So yes, all stories happened before, it could be in real life or literature, but nothing is really new It s only seasoned authors who might borrow from other stories, but real people in real life repeat behaviour based on genetic indicators and circumstantial impulses Then there s human instinct to predict outcome.So, while the cognoscenti sleuth through a great novel, ordinary lay readers like yours truly do not have to do it However, it might add a wonderful new dimension to the experience if we are experienced enough to know when it happens in the shaping and sustaining power of a story and the symbolism behind it The author is passionate about his subject He has a serious issue with the programmatic nature of political novels, just a certain type though, and and shares his views with the reader, no matter what.I hatepolitical writing novels, plays, poems They don t travel well, don t age well, and generally aren t much good in their own time and place, however sincere they may be I speak here of literature whose primary intent is to influence the body politic for instance, those works of socialist realism one of the great misnomers of all time of the Soviet era in which the plucky hero figures out a way to increase production and thereby meet the goals of the five year plan on the collective farm what I once heard the great Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes characterize as the love affair between a boy, and girl, and a tractor Overtly political writing can be one dimensional, simplistic, reductionist, preachy, dull Don t we find those preachy dullness in too many novels nowadays I like the idea of calling it programmatic Word dumping or information dumping were my favorite two concepts in addressing it But I have something new to call it There are too many authors, such as Edgar Alan Poe, Washington Irvine, D H Lawrence, Charles Dickens, Gabriel Garc a M rquez, Virginia Wolfe, Toni Morrison, George Bernard Shaw, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lord and so manywho masterfully incorporate politics into their prose It is how it is done which matters State of Fear by Michael Crichton comes to mind My word, how this author rattled a few cages, right And what about The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown Yes, we have our exciting moments in prose Oh yes, and The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, which had me a bit miffed so programmized, Eoowwww And don t ever forget Salman Rushdie s Satanic Verses Now talk about ruffled feathers, folks Some authors know how to do it Others don t.That reminds me to ask the question if chick lit is also so obviously programmatic Not literature by any means, but still prose of some kind with often deeper undertones Mmm think about it, shall we The difference between a murder death in a murder mystery and a literary book was good to learn, even though, once again, common sense, although we seldom take the time to think about the symbolism in it.In getting hyped up about the content of How to Read Literature Like a Professor I quickly made a list of all my favorite characters in books After many hours, I stopped when I realized how impossible it is to recall them all I ve read a few thousand books long before I joined GR, to begin with And who will want to know anyway I could just sat back in amazement though How many authors introduced so much magic into my life by presenting amazing characters in their stories It took a long time to read this book Probably three weeks More or less a chapter each day, with a few rereads in between Not because it was boring or tedious No, it was just so inspiring I was constantly lured into exploring old books and new titles.Allow me to sneak in two of my favorite book endings Rhet Butler in Gone With The Wind author Margaret Mitchell Frankly my dear, I don t give a damn Professor Higgins in the play My Fair Lady Pygmalion author George Bernard Shaw Where the devil is my slippers, Elyze Of course you realize that this play was named after a Greek mythological figure, Pygmalion who fell in love with his statue Galatea Read the inspiring love story here young readers this is undoubtedly a wonderful introduction to literature, in so many ways For all readers it is a rejoicing in excellent prose and the authors behind it It strengthens the bond between the reader and the writer Imagine having Thomas C Foster as a house guest in your own library Oh how short life would be at that very moment Pity we will not be able to order another lifetime right that minute Well, before your eyes glaze over and your mind wander, let me stop Enjoy this chatty, informative, entertaining read It s worth your while.And then consider reading the book How to Read a Book The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J Adler, Charles Van Doren then tell me who your favorite characters in novels were I m simply dying to know Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend How to Read Literature Like a Professor offers an extensive introduction to literary analysis for the purpose of finding deeper meaning in one s everyday reading One of the central precepts of the book is that there is a universal grammar of figurative imagery, that in fact images and symbols gain much of their power from repetition and reinterpretation. Memory Symbol Pattern These are the three items that,than any other, separate the professorial reader from the rest of the crowd. Chapters are divided into relatively similar page counts and, while each chapter explores a topic and provides helpful examples from literary works, the length of each chapter allows for digestion of information in small bites Citing folklore, religious dogmas, and Greek mythology, the author delicately introduces varied or contrasting belief systems for interpretation of literature in an unoffensive and unbiased manner Every reader s experience of every work is unique, largely because each person will experience various elements to differing degrees, and those differences will cause certain features of the text to becomeor less pronounced.While this book provides a thorough examination of theme, symbols, and contexts, the author freely admits that it is by no means a complete compilation one could hardly fit all elements of literary assessment, all interpretations of symbols, or all references to venerable lore into just one book The writing is consistently comprehensive and entertaining, occasionally infused with Foster s personal quips and moments of charming self deprecation His points, whether serious or silly, are stated with eloquence.The author s examination of various classic works are liable to tantalize readers to pick up new reads, and a long list of recommended reads at the back of the book further encourage the accumulation of TBR books Before the book reaches its end, the author tackles a difficult question should we really give so much credit to writers by interpreting their works in such a special and meaningful way, especially when he she hasn t been proven to be a good writerHis answer is illuminating and his conclusions ultimately encourage the examination of literature and the sharing of books and conversation such that we might all bring new perspectives to our shared experience How to Read Literature Like a Professor is a highly recommended resource for unearthing the hidden meaning interwoven in books and film. Awesome Simply awesome I d recommend it for any student who has ever asked the eternal question after being assigned some obscure piece of literature in an English class why the HELL DO I HAVE TO READ THIS Trust me Thomas C Foster is your friend He feels your pain And he s here to help.As an English major, I have an intense love for books, obviously, even the classic texts that even I find a little hopeless and empty at times But these essays help you to find the deeper meaning behind the words and point out the little hints and signs that you can look for in order to make Oroonoko or Mrs Dalloway seem a little less pointless Further, even as an English major with an intense love for literature, I am also a teenager, and I am fully aware that not every student in the world particularly wants to spend time reading a book aboutbooks But the thing with Foster is that he s funny, and he explains things with a rather dry sense of humor that I find simply wonderful It is a rare thing to find a scholar with a sense of humor about their discipline Especially those scholars that are passionate enough to write books.Informal, light, and truly fun to read I read it in the span of one evening, so for a normal person read non bibliophile I call them puggles Like Muggles, you know it would take abouta week How do puggles measure time How did I get to this point in my review Anyway Read it You won t regret it. This book is a non fiction guide by a professor at the University of Michigan Flint on how to approach literary reading with a goal of better understanding It is primarily focused on literature loosely defined as works related to the human condition or what it means to be human from the mid twentieth century and prior Foster provides insight to help the reader recognize memory, symbol, and pattern, citing examples from notable works He provides a broad introduction to the codes and patterns that inform our readings The author desires to help readers decipher hidden meanings He also admits that we can never know for sure what the author intended Examples of topics include common themes, archetypes, metaphors, allegory, irony andA few specific content areas are examined in depth with supporting cases to show how to delve into the deeper meaning being conveyed, such as violence, sex, seasonality, weather, geography, markings, journeys, meals, and diseases The author covers the widespread influences of Shakespeare, The Bible, fables, and Greek mythology With a few exceptions, examples are derived primarily from British and American literature Spoilers for these works are included to make his points.One area I found particularly enjoyable was the discussion of how the works in the literary canon are inter connected, and that authors are influenced by what they have read, known as intertextuality I also appreciated the idea of a reader s imagination engaging the imagination of the author, who may have lived many years ago, thus giving the reader an idea of his or her world and a sense of historical perspective Near the end, a short story written by Karen Mansfield is included, and the reader is invited to practice interpretation of the text using the principles previously provided This book is written with humor, wit, and self deprecation The author does not claim to have all the answers and encourages readers to draw upon their own experiences If a perspective is supportable in the work, it is valid I appreciated the inclusion of a suggested reading list at the end Recommended to people who enjoy analyzing what they read, students that need to read literature for classes, and life long learners.Memorable Quote A reader s imagination is the act of one creative intelligence engaging another. Lively and Entertaining it is not I think I fell asleep a grand total of three times trying to get through these meager 281 pages Foster attempts to be all hip and conversational, but I think he does a pretty bad job of it, and ends up being evencondescending instead All in all, it s not really a guide to reading between the lines although we can all probably agree that it s hard to create a guide for anything literature related It slike a bunch of examples about symbolism here and weather means something there, pulled from the same body of work In Toni Morrison s Beloved, we see examples of baptism in Toni Morrison s Song of Solomon, there are excellent examples of communion If you ever need to write a thesis on Toni Morrison, call up this guy He has it all down.I only admired one line in the whole book Shakespeare s quotes are like members of the opposite sex all the good ones are taken Corny, but at least it forced a chuckle out of me. EVERYTHING IS A SYMBOL.Okay, not really Butthings than not, at least when it comes to literature I was hesitant to read How to Read Literature Like a Professor because I felt that I had not read enough classics to understand what Thomas Foster would be talking about but then I realized that maybe it was a good idea to read the book before embarking on my literature quest, so I would have some background knowledge heading in After all, knowledge is power.And I was right Though a myriad of the book titles went over my head and some of the examples were consequently confusing, for the most part I feel like I ve learned a lot from reading this book Granted, I m a high school student, so I didn t know much to begin with, but I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves English, literature, or is interested in reading a book about books As a bibliophile and self proclaimed future English major, I loved learning about irony, allusions, and everything else Foster shared using his casual yet sophisticated writing style.Not a bad book to start out 2012 with Now to move on to an actual novel review cross posted on my blog, the quiet voice. About a year ago, I took a MOOC a Massively Open Online Course on the site Coursera on fantasy literature MOOC s grade via peer evaluations of your work One of my papers traced the Garden of Eden symbolism in the opening of Lewis Carroll s Through the Looking Glass It is in the text, which made sense, since Carroll was a clergy member telling a coming of age story And having taken university level upper division lit courses, I knew the paper was well thought out, supported by the text and creative Solid A , maybe an A Or a B if the teacher was having a bad day or was a hard grader I got a B from a peer, with a comment not exact, but close Clear writing, but I don t like this sort of literary criticism It s the same BS my high school English teacher tried to teach The grader offered no argument from the text, highlighting passages contradicting my argument if there were any, which I doubt Nor did they offer a different interpretation of the Eden story Instead, I did a classic bit of literary analysis and was graded by a person either ignorant of or hostile to classical literary analysis And, despite the professor s video lectures, which employed the same classical literary analytical techniques I did, the student objected to the enterprise of literary critique I was flummoxed It seemed an odd statement and a petty reason for an average grade in a literature class, but it goes to the point that Thomas C Foster makes in his well written How to Read Literature Like and English Professor is trying to make Which is that reading closely and writing about literature thoughtfully is an art It takes experience, and intention What s , it often takes a classical education that few have these days Since literary authors often steal from Greek myths, the bible, fairy tales, Shakespeare in fact, they can take from anything ever written This was a refresher for me, and I enjoyed it Foster s style is informal and chatty, and while this can come across as patronizing, it made for easy reading What s , it reinforced the knowledge that I thought maybe was no longer taught in high school and college At least as evinced by the comment I received from an anonymous person on my Through the Looking Glass analysis Foster breezes through a ton of material here From myth to baptism to biblical references He also presents a cheeky, but honest answer to his students when they ask is this a symbol Which is, If you think it s a symbol, then it probably is He then moves on to sex in literature, Freud and Jung s influence on both novels and literary criticism, and a healthy discussion of irony.But Foster uses two central ideas that bind the book together The first is the idea of intertextuality, that every author is in conversation with writers in the past Since I was first introduced to this idea in high school, it has continued to fascinate me The second idea is mind blowing, if maybe a little over the top for me there s only one story, and all authors are writing different parts of it Not sure if that s true, and it seems like cock and bull on one hand, but it s also intriguing So, since I m pretty sure I d have gotten an A or an A on my Through the Looking Glass paper were I to have submitted said paper to Foster, I ll rate How To Read Literature Like a Professor four starsJust kidding I m giving it four stars since it feels like the discussions that go on in undergrad lit classes And because of that, it is important because it introduces readers to why literature professors often take such left field interpretations on the books they cover in class. 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 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 YouIn 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 Enriching, Satisfying, And Fun Worth a read Also the reading list at the end is legit.