Artful reading - the way we read novels and short stories - is less about reading for specific information and more about reading to revel in the literary experience. Learning the skills and techniques of artful reading can improve your life in many ways, whether you're a fiction reader, an aspiring writer, a book club member, or a student.
And the best part: These skills are not difficult or unwieldy; rather, they are well within your reach. This entertaining, 24-lecture course gives you a veritable toolbox of knowledge and methods to approach even the most daunting reading experience with increased confidence.
You'll learn the definitions and characteristics of terms such as authorship, master plot, and genre. While some of these nuts-and-bolts concepts may be familiar to you, Professor Spurgin examines them from multiple angles, revealing hidden meanings that can escape even experienced readers.
Practical tips and techniques will maximize your effectiveness as an artful reader. You'll see why holding an initial reading session will acquaint you with the author's writing style and the characters, making the book easy to return to even if you take a few days off.
You'll also discover the benefits of "pre-reading" - exploring a book's organization and structure - and how to constantly ask questions to become more deeply involved with the characters and their stories.
Throughout the course, a host of literary "case studies" will refine and elaborate on the concepts of artful reading. Literary examples show how you can finally approach works that, in the past, might have seemed intimidating - making your future reading experiences both more engaging and more enlightening.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2009 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2009 The Great Courses
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, I love to learn about a great many things, and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Me, bored? Never!
If you're a writer or a literary-minded reader, this set of lectures is insightful and immeasurably practical. The idea is teach styles and literary devices through example of works of great literature. Many of the examples used were not necessarily in my wheelhouse of normal reading, but the lessons still came across easily.
Prof. Spurgin is, on the whole, a good educator. His presentation is clear and well-constructed. I was often distracted, however, his delivery. It came. Across. At times like. William. Shatner. Should have. Been speaking. Ok, perhaps it wasn't quite as bad as all of that, but once noticed, it cannot be unnoticed. If you try this title out, apologies in advance for ruining that for you.
I expected a lot from this series of lectures: inspiration to read (even) more, freshening up my college knowledge, learning new things and the opportunity to do all that whilst commuting by bus looking like a serious young business woman.
Unfortunately, the narrator is so enthusiastic and driven that a serious listening attitude was not always applicable and at times I found myself unexpectedly giggling at best, squeaking audibly with delight at worst. How I would have loved to be in this professor's class room!
The lectures are well organized and clear, the narrator keeps a nice pace and is very easy to understand.
Additionally, through these lectures I have discovered some intriguing new titles to try my new found expert reading skills on.
Excellent! A charming, humorous teacher and many tips about how to see more in the fiction I'm going to read anyway. This is basically an introductory course on literary analysis, I'd say, and I loved the concepts of watching for the initial destabilizing event, and the two "master plots" --- a stranger comes to town, or the hero takes a journey. I liked the free indirect voice, the narrator voice that slides over into the psyche of the main character in descriptions. I liked a lot of the examples, most of which I was familiar with. I skipped the Russians and the experimental fiction of the early 20th century such as Ulysses and Virginia Woolf's stuff -------- because sometimes in life you have to make an executive decision not to bother with yucky stuff that's more a puzzle than a good read. Same with his discussion of Portnoy's Complaint: I bought that long ago because the New York Review of Books said to, and halfway through stared at it in dismay and distaste and realized something important: I was out of school, and never never never in my life ever again had to read anything disgusting because some poseur said I had to. (And I never renewed the NY Review of Books, either.) So none of our prof's "must reads" actually are musts, after all, because we are grown up. We can apply his tips to the books we like to read.
Also, I was puzzled at the prof's topic of "metanovels," novels about novels. Good, I thought, because there are a LOT of novels and short stories about writing, or books, or somebody stealing another person's writings, and I like thrillers with that topic. But it turned out to be a lecture on some wildly experimental fiction that sounded to me like "magical realism," that school of writing which bitter British writers say is simply fantasy by writers who happen to live in South America. However, I figure a lit prof is inevitably going to drag in some books nobody actually reads and short the popular ones: it's inevitable. He did NOT drag in Ahab and That Hated Whale, but he did have a good general lecture on descriptions, short or long.
Quick and light lecture series, I recommend it. I'm going to see if he's done any others.
It made me get so much more out of my reading.
He made me feel like I was back in a classroom, which I loved.
The content is good. I don't like the cheap, synthetic applause that opens each lecture. I want to want to listen to this, and as lectures go, it's good. Still, it's a lecture. I could be listening to something more entertaining. If your focus is on writing better, then dive in. And yes, it does help appreciate good writing. But be warned, endurance is required to get through these.
I'm not inclined to write reviews. In fact this is my first for Audible. But I was so irritated by Timothy Spurgin's reading, I'm making the effort to warn others. In EVERY lesson he stumbles, typically by reading a word or two ahead then having to correct himself. In some lessons, it happened so frequently, that I found myself waiting for the next stumble and lost track of the content.
You may regard the odd stumble as nitpicking, but there are so many here and they occur with such regularity, that their accumulation is elephantine in size.
Perhaps he had the teleprompter moving too fast, but I'm more inclined to think it is a psychological problem. He may be an outstanding lecturer, but he is most certainly not the right person to deliver an audio presentation like this, and it counts as a big black mark against The Great Courses for enabling him to do so. On this evidence, Great Courses is not an organization who pursues excellence or takes pride in its products.
I would also add that the first 9 lessons or so offer nothing of value for anyone who has taken a high school introductory course in literature or creative writing, or has simply read about either.
I purchased this after reading Building Great Sentences, also in the The Great Courses series. It was full of insights and read impeccably. By contrast, this was a major letdown and if there was a way, I would demand my money back.
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