How to Read Literature Like a Professor is an enjoyable book written by a long time professor of literature and writing, Thomas C. Foster. You can learn more about him on his site here.
Foster’s impressive knowledge of literature really shines in this book. He shares that knowledge in a humble and entertaining manner geared toward teaching others how to get more out of their reading. Reading ought to be enjoyable, and the enjoyment only increases as the reader develops the ability to recognize archetypes, patterns, traditional elements, etc.
The final paragraph of Foster’s introduction reads:
What I hope to do do, in the coming pages, is what I do in class: give readers a view of what goes on when professional students of literature do their thing, a broad introduction to the codes and patterns that inform our readings. I want my students …to be able to reach [conclusions] without me. I know they can, with practice, patience, and a bit of instruction. And so can you.
What I loved about this book is that it realizes the goal stated in the quote above. It is by no means an exhaustive list of the “codes and patterns”, but it offers a great start. It achieves this goal by offering many examples from classic and contemporary novels, plays, poems, and even movies. Foster’s style and repertoire inspired me to want to read more and read more intelligently, thus increasing the value of the lessons I learn from everything I read, and making those experiences more enjoyable.
If you want to read more but don’t know where to start, go ahead and start here. I promise you will find several items to place on your list that you will want to read and you will gain skills that will make reading more relevant and fun. If you are well read, still give this book a read. It will reinforce the lessons you’ve already picked up, it will offer another perspective to add depth to your reading, and you will also likely add several books to your “to-read” list along the way.