In his relatively short and very readable How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster seeks to teach readers how to “unlock” literature. I think I would have benefitted a great deal from a professor like Foster. I have learned how to read deeply with years of practice, which is what he says one needs, but the journey might have been easier if I’d had this book along.
Foster’s writing style is witty and engaging. The title of this book might scream dry, boring, and difficult, but it’s exactly the opposite. In fact, it is one of the more accessible books about reading literature that I’ve read. It may be the only accessible book about reading literature that I’ve read, for that matter.
How to Read Literature Like a Professor comes complete with a list of recommended reading in the appendix. In fact, I plan to read as many of his recommendations as possible, since his use of these works as examples has me itching to try out my new skills. It is constructed in such a way that the reader can dash off a chapter here and there without much of a time commitment. Most of all, there is confirmation that I’m doing something right in the classroom, and I plan to use some of his arguments when my own students insist I am manufacturing symbols where they don’t exist. I recommend this book highly if you are looking to expand your enjoyment of literature or if you just want to learn a little bit about more about great works of literature.