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Publisher's Summary

What does it mean when a fictional hero takes a journey? Shares a meal? Gets drenched in a sudden rain shower? Often, there is much more going on in a novel or poem than is readily visible on the surface - a symbol, maybe, that remains elusive, or an unexpected twist on a character - and there's that sneaking suspicion that the deeper meaning of a literary text keeps escaping you.

In this practical and amusing guide to literature, Thomas C. Foster shows how easy and gratifying it is to unlock those hidden truths, and to discover a world where a road leads to a quest; a shared meal may signify a communion; and rain, whether cleansing or destructive, is never just rain. Ranging from major themes to literary models, narrative devices, and form, How to Read Literature Like a Professor is the perfect companion for making your reading experience more enriching, satisfying, and fun.

©2003 Thomas C. Foster (P)2012 HarperCollins Pubishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Story
  • Evelyn
  • Alabama, United States
  • 05-22-14

Lives Up to Its Claims

I had included this book in my Wish List based on both the sample narration and the publisher’s summary and was meaning to purchase it, if it ever went on sale. However, I went ahead and used a credit when I saw it listed as part of my son’s AP Literature summer reading. From the start the book “read” like a novel, so its claim of being “lively and entertaining” was definitely achieved especially in the capable hands of David de Vries. The other half of Thomas C. Foster’s stated goal of being a guide to reading between the lines, I believe was also achieved. Well at least, for someone like me, who is a wannabe comprehend-er of more than the obvious story-line. Even though I knew I was to be looking for symbols , themes and the like, I had no overall understanding of why they would be there and their significance to that particular story and their continuation from prior stories. BEWARE, however, and read at your own risk! The knowledge this book imparts requires action, so like me, you may be concerned that your shallow-surface reading days are numbered, but is this not the plan of the author all along.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Simply Fantastic!!!

Would you consider the audio edition of How to Read Literature Like a Professor to be better than the print version?

Absolutely! I had an immensely enjoyable experience, and I am sure I wouldn't have had it if I had just read the print version.

What other book might you compare How to Read Literature Like a Professor to and why?

None. I came looking for some theory in order to understand a little of literature, and I found archetypes, symbols and even some creative writing. This book teaches these elements of literature very well, so well I want to listen to it again. I just wish there could have been some more literary theory.

Have you listened to any of David de Vries’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is the first, but I will definitely look for more of his work. The narrator's performance got the so hooked I couldn't seem to be able to stop myself from listening, but I HAD to, because I had to digest every piece of new information.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Professor Lit and his stories

Any additional comments?

If you are looking for some literary theory, this might not be the book for you, but I learned a great deal from this book nevertheless. I highly recommend it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Brett
  • Charlotte, NC, United States
  • 10-07-15

Great Summary of Everything you Missed in Class

When I was younger and in school, I didn't appreciate reading or learning about literature. Now that I am older, I wish I had paid more attention in class. If this rings true for you too, then you may enjoy this book.

The book mostly deals with symbolism - how it is used, why is it used, and how to spot it. It is an informal discussion that is entertaining to listen to (though some of the humor is a little dated). It even has an "exam" at the end based on a short story. I didn't do the exam but I listened to the "answers" which were useful in demonstrating how reading works on various levels - some obvious and some up for interpretation.

There is a reading list for download. The list seems to have more references than I remember being discussed in the book. I seem to recall the author reusing a few references multiple times.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Actually quite interesting.

I originally had to read this book over the summer for school and began to dislike it very early from the start but that was soon to change. As the story went on, I found myself wanting to read more and more each night. This audiobook was very helpful and the reader was very good!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Perfect Primer

The author, though a college professor does not come off bookish or aloof. He give the listener a great kit of tools for approaching literature on a new level. while his treatment of symbols, themes and techniques is not exhaustive (it couldn't be) he discusses enough and explores each with examples from common and a few uncommon texts to help the audience "take the concepts out for a test drive."
I suspect I may come back to this one in the future.
The narration is great. Easy to listen to and expressive. He captures the author's style,.well.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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As far as audiobooks go, it was good.

I don't think I could have finished it within a reasonable time constraint without the audiobook. The narrator was pretty awesome considering the book's content. The different pitches and character in his voice made this normally somewhat dry read, pretty interesting.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • SELLERSVILLE, PA, United States
  • 01-12-13

Wish I had this for HS English class

Where does How to Read Literature Like a Professor rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Enjoyable book. Explains a lot of the stuff that I never understood in high school English class

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Putting the pieces of the puzzle together

Wish I had had a course like this when I was an undergrad. Actually, if this had been offered in high school, I might have appreciated the required reading.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Kept My Attention

Thomas Foster did a great job of keeping things understandable and relatable, and thus relevant, to standard folk such as myself. His writing style is charming, and I feel I can listen again to pick up more than I have the first time without losing interest. This isn't the most insightful thing to deconstruct all stories ever, but it's a great start!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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👍

I was forced to read this for school and was dreading it bc the title sounds boring. But i ended up liking it :)

3 of 5 people found this review helpful