How to Read Literature Like A Professor

How to Read Literature Like A Professor

A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines

Large Print - 2014 | Large print ed
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Thomas C. Foster's classic guide--a lively and entertaining introduction to literature and literary basics, including symbols, themes, and contexts--shows you how to make your everyday reading experience more rewarding and enjoyable.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor helps readers discover the deeper meanings of novels, poems, and plays by looking at literature with the eyes--and literary codes--of the ultimate professional reader: the college professor. This revised and updated edition contains new chapters, new preface and epilogue, and updated teaching points developed over the last decade.

What does it mean when a literary hero travels along a dusty road? When he's drenched in a sudden rain shower? Ranging from major themes to literary models, narrative devices, and form, Foster provides us with a broad overview of literature--a world where a road leads to a quest and rain, whether cleansing or destructive, is never just a shower--and shows us how to make our reading experience more enriching, satisfying, and fun.

Publisher: New York, NY :, HarperLuxe, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2014]
Edition: Large print ed
ISBN: 9780062326522
Branch Call Number: LP 808 FOS NVD
Characteristics: xxxvi, 460 pages ; 23 cm


From the critics

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Jun 09, 2020

I read 'How to Read Literature Like A Professor' as summer work for my AP Literature and Composition class. This book was not as boring as I expected it to be, and not 'textbook-like' at all! Each chapter focused on a different symbol/metaphor that readers should look out for while reading fiction novels/plays/poems etc., and included some examples from books with literary merit. For example, one chapter explained the meaning of rain and snow, and its significance within a story! I would definitely recommended this book to any AP/College Literature student and anyone who wants to enrich their reading experience!

Jan 15, 2020

The author is a literature professor and reading this book feels like sitting in his class. It's pretty interesting. He makes the reader aware that most novels have roots in earlier works, whether the Bible, Shakespeare or Homer. Many stories are also enriched when the reader can discern the symbolism in various events, situations or scenes. If you're an avid reader, it's a good book: it might make you enjoy literature even more.


Thomas C. Foster does an incredible job at explaining skills to help one get the most out of their reading experience. I originally believed the book would be boring yet he integrates storytelling into his explanation. He references pop culture as well as classics and uses scenarios and examples to explain hidden meanings in text. It was surprising how interesting he made a topic that is typically perceived as tiresome. He speaks with casual language, as if a friend talking to another. I would highly recommend the book to others.

Jun 21, 2016

It was a very informative book!

Jul 20, 2014

Foster is very condescending. He talks down to his audience. I did not learn anything I did not already know from this book. The title says "entertaining guide", but of the numerous literary analysis guides I have read, this is the worst. I am sorry to all students who have to read this. My advice is to get through it as quickly as possible.

Jul 24, 2012

Although it was entertaining, it could only be considered a mere introduction to reading with a critical eye and drawing connections in a multidisciplinary fashion. At certain points, the tone veered from comical to condescending, but otherwise, I found it to be quite an entertaining read, albeit not all that educational. If you're looking for in-depth information, this book isn't for you, but just an interesting book about introducing the concepts of symbolism and the journey to newcomers to the idea of critical thinking and reading as one, then this book may just do the trick.

Sep 02, 2011

An entertaining read. And I learned a lot.

feedtheflameforfacts Aug 01, 2011

I greatly enjoy reading and analyzing books. I was required to read this for my AP Literature and Composition class(I was previously in AP Language and Composition), and I disliked it all the way through. Foster constantly pushes his words into your mouth and does not allow any differences in opinion. After a few chapters his tone and style got very old, as well as the great amount of overwhelming examples. Although some of his points will remain with me while I read other books, many were very dull and repetitive.

Nov 02, 2010

This is a terrific book for literature students in high school and college--also a great book for creative writers who want to try new themes and hone their skills.


Add Notices
Jul 20, 2014

Sexual Content: The author seems to be obsessed with sex from literature.

Jul 24, 2012

Sexual Content: Explains the link between vampirism and sexuality, as well as explaining the true meaning behind writing scenes of an erotic nature.

Jul 24, 2012

Other: Descriptions of diseases, like pox and tuberculosis.

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Jul 24, 2012

britprincess1 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 20


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Jul 24, 2012

An introductory look at common symbols, the hero's journey, and many other devices easily spotted when delving into literary criticism.


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