How to Read Literature Like a Professor Summary – February 2022

Author: Thomas C.Foster

Short Summary
How to Read Literature Like a Professor (2003) is a great guide for book lovers who want to get more out of their reading. The book educates you about the basics of classic literature and how authors use structures, compositions, memory, and symbolism in their work to deliver their message to you. With this information, you’ll be able to read literature like a pro and get the most out of every book you read.
how to read literature like a professor
Source: amazon.com

Detailed Summary

Thomas C. Foster brings to light the many techniques that can be used to uncover the hidden secrets of classic books in his book, How to read literature like a professor Foster uses examples from greats such as Charles Dickens and Jane Austen to show the reader how to read between the lines and get the most out of their reading experience. In addition to being a more enjoyable experience, readers will also be able to apply what they learn from Foster’s book in a professional setting.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor Key Points

Pay attention to three elements to unlock the hidden message

Most people only read books on a surface level, without delving any deeper into what the author is trying to say. If you want to uncover the hidden meaning in any book, you need to look out for three things:

  • Memory
  • Symbols
  • Patterns

Memory is what we remember from our past experiences and use as a reference point for understanding new information. This might happen to you usually when you are reading a book and suddenly think of a scene, ‘Wait, Didn’t I know this scene? Haven’t I read this before?’ The actual readers don’t just ignore this scenario. They put their attention and start comparing what they have read in past and what they are reading now to know the similarity and differences.

Symbols are objects, characters, or actions that have a deeper meaning than what’s on the surface. For example, ‘The flaw on the character’s face is not just a flaw, it is more than it. If you try to interpret what it means then you’ll get the full idea of the story of a book. You just have to pay a little more attention to interpretation.

Patterns are recurring themes or structures in a book that can help us understand the author’s message. You may have noticed that there are some details written again and again in the book that seems meaningless. These are the patterns and symbols, the authors use to transmit the hidden messages.

By paying attention to these three elements, you can uncover the hidden messages in any book and get a deeper understanding of what the author is trying to say.

Quest structure-The most ordinary pattern in literature

Novels are often lauded for their ability to whisk the reader away on a journey, and this is often accomplished by using the quest structure. The quest structure is one of the most common patterns in literature. It’s often used because it’s so versatile and can be applied to a wide range of stories. One of the great things about this pattern is that it’s so universally applicable. You can find it in novels, even you can also find it on your latest trip to the grocery store.

Quest structure is sometimes also called ‘The hero’s journey and it contains five elements:

  • A quester
  • A destination
  • A reason to go
  • Challenges in the way
  • Revelation

For example, Santiago in the alchemist of Paulo Coelho is the quester, Pyramids of Egypt are his destination, His reason is to reach the pyramids was to explore his destiny and to find out more about his dream I.e. a fortune in Egypt. On his way to his destination, he faces a lot of challenges such as finding love but he has to leave his love behind, and at the end of the story, a revelation, the treasure was in from of Santiago.

If you run out of milk at your home, that’ll become a reason to go to the store ( destination ), You become ( Quester ), The challenges might be to find out a vehicle to arrive at the store, and at last ( Revelation ) you’ll have the milk at home by coming back. It has all the elements, you can also find out these quests by laying attention in other books.

Look for the universal messages to find out the symbols that authors use

It has long been known that all books are derivative of other books. What this means is that every book, no matter how original it may seem, is borrowing from other books. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, as it can lead to some great insights and ideas. Many famous authors have openly admitted to copying from other works.

It’s hard to find a book that doesn’t copy from another book. In truth, no book is 100% original, whether the author knows he or she is coping, or not. However, that doesn’t mean that all books are without value. Many great authors have drawn inspiration from other works and created something truly unique as a result.

One way to find value in a book, even if it’s not completely original, is to look for universal messages. Authors often use symbols and metaphors to communicate these messages. By identifying these symbols, you can gain a deeper understanding of an author’s work.

This phenomenon is ‘ Intertextuality’ and it is not a bad thing. When the same ideas from different books are the same then you can rely upon them because they stand on the same idea.

How to read literature like a professor quotes

“Education is mostly about institutions and getting tickets stamped; learning is what we do for ourselves. When we’re lucky, they go together. If I had to choose, I’d take learning.” Thomas C. Foster

“Reading is an activity of the imagination, and the imagination in question is not the writer’s alone.” Thomas C. Foster

How to read literature like professor reviews

“How to Read Literature Like a Professor offers an extensive introduction to literary analysis to find deeper meaning in one’s everyday reading.” Hannah Greendale

“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.” Margitte