Ever wonder if there’s something you’re missing when reading an important literary work? The average reader usually picks up what’s on the surface, but there’s never just one layer of meaning in a text. Thomas C. Foster’s “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” serves as a guide to uncovering these deeper patterns and meanings.
The books is handily divided into chapters that encompass such topics as quests, symbolism and archetypes so that readers can begin identifying these elements in their own reading. One chapter for instance is entitled “It’s Greek to Me,” in which Foster identifies the use of myth in novels; these allusions are often subtle and subconscious, but they are very much present in much of literature.
The tone of the book is professorial without being preachy; Foster is himself, after all, a professor of literature. As I was reading, I imagined myself sitting front and center in a college literature course.
Foster offers his book as a jumping off point to his readers: He provides tools and insights that will prove very useful, then sends the reader off with a reading list of works he mentions in the book. Think of these as homework, he tells the reader. For readers with curious minds, this book will prove invaluable.