Book Review – How to Read Like a Professor

imageBy Taylor Jower | Writer and Evan Echelberger | Writer

March 25th, 2016

When choosing to read a new book, I have one solid recommendation: How to Read Literature Like a Professor. This book is not a fiction novel, mystery, or a novella. It’s basically a guide to open your eyes to the ins and outs of literature. This book is hard to love or hate. You will either love the author for realizing the pleasures of literary analysis, or curse him for making you think too hard.

The author Thomas C. Foster is a professor at the University of Michigan. When reading his style of book, much is left to the reader to infer and interpret. Throughout the book, he talks about different myths and actions that symbolize something completely contrary to what we would think. He talks about sex in literature and how it never really entails the actual act. According to Foster, everything means something and we should take that and apply it to every piece of writing we come across.

Each chapter is named based on the idea he means to express. An example is how he states that every trip is a quest of some sort, on which you can obtain a whole new level of maturity and wisdom. One of the most interesting chapters is when he discusses how the seasons play out in literature. He says spring is the time of birth, summer a time of living, fall a time of going, and winter a time of death.

Also, he leads us to the topic of sex in literature. Foster states that authors have found interesting ways of describing sexual interaction. He says that’s the reason why authors are often pinned as scandalous. He says it could be anything from a playful act such as wrestling or sharing dinner with another. He opens us up to a whole new world of literature, drawing from classics like Shakespeare and Greek mythology to show us what it truly means, and how it can help us understand other works.

As a student, I always thought literature was something that people either understood or didn’t, like math. When my teacher talked about allusions or symbolism, I got lost, asking myself, “What is that?”

When I finally understood symbolism and the important images found in famous works, I still had a hard time picking them out of Shakespeare and some other books I had read this year. This book demonstrates that literary devices are not hidden, you just have to know how to look for the archetypes and symbols. That being said, once you read this book, you’re not going to be able to go out and just analyze Hamlet or Aristotle.

We grow into comprehending our literary terms as we use them. So, the timeless phrase “practice makes perfect” definitely plays out in this case. Reading is not only amazing, but it enhances your comprehension and makes your writing more professional. It expands your diction and increases your level of understanding of books.

I completely agree that How to Read Literature Like a Professor is a lively and entertaining guide to reading in between the lines. This book is definitely a page turner, and I completely recommend reading it. It can help many people attending high school or those  going to college.

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