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How to Read Novels Like a Professor: A Jaunty Exploration of the World’s Favorite Literary Form Paperback – July 1, 2008
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About the Author
Thomas C. Foster is a professor of English at the University of Michigan-Flint, where he teaches contemporary fiction, drama, and poetry as well as creative writing and composition. He is the author of Twenty-five Books That Shaped America and several books on twentieth-century British and Irish fiction and poetry. He lives in East Lansing, Michigan.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book, perhaps, should have been titled, "How to Craft Novels Like a Writer", or some other similar idea. There is a lot in here for an aspiring writer, examples of different techniques, character studies, writing styles, plot, theme, and so forth. I got much more out of this book on a writing level than on a reading level. He even references his creative writing classes several times as examples. All of the examples used to try and illustrate how to `read' a passage was much better used as a writing guideline / example. So, in other words, the book makes a great guide for aspiring writers and for those who want some history and aspects of the novel as a form of lit. If you are looking for something as straightforward as his first book, this does not come close. I know some people had an issue with his `cookie-cutter' approach in his first work, but that is exactly why it is now being used in the classroom by many teachers, including myself.Read more ›
My first concern as a classroom teacher is that my students have not yet encountered a majority of the texts Foster references. The reader who needs a book titled How to Read Novels like a Professor is unlikely to be fluent in Joyce. Foster relies on examples to clarify his points, but the use of oblique references to texts his potential readers are unfamiliar with undermines the clarity of his text. Joyce and Faulkner may act as common ground for those of us with degrees in literature, for those still in training Salinger and Twain would be more effective.
I appreciate Foster's wit and voice, but that is because I know the material he is discussing well enough to differentiate between zingers and revelations. The voice that makes his work approachable to me, is the same voice that would utterly confuse my students. In my experience, high school readers take flip comments literally when they are not fluent in the subject matter. While I may chuckle at Foster's humor or find his comments unnecessarily distracting, my students would be lost.
The chapters in this book lack the tight focus of How to Read Literature; Foster wanders aimlessly at times as though the purpose of the chapter is to fill space. Had the book been shorter and the focus tighter, this would have been a better book.
Further, the information in the book could be presented in about 30 pages. The information is presented in the first paragraph of each chapter, propped up with about 9 pages of fluff and discussion of specific novels, then summarized in the concluding paragraph. Highlighting the key points and skipping the fluff, I made it through this book in about two hours.
Do yourself a favor and pick up How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines if you really want to learn a thing or two about reading literature.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really practical perspectives for educators to give students a leg up in understanding challenging literature.Published 4 months ago by Ran Diego Russell
Ordered this book for my daughter when she was in 11th grade. The book was exactly what she need for her class.Published 10 months ago by Shannon Kinder