How to Read Novels Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

I love reading books about books. How to Read Novels Like a Professor has excited me and made me more enthusiastic to start my next novel. For those who do not have much experience in learning about what constitutes a novel – for example, I’m only a high school student – Foster’s book would be a great place to begin. He provides a fantastic list of rules (which you can find in this review) and uses a wide array of examples from novels published decades apart.

However, because I have already read his book How to Read Literature Like a Professor, I felt that I already knew and was rereading some of the sections in this book. It makes sense because literature and novels are bound to share some qualities, but the idea of intertextuality as well as there being only “one story” did not impress me. Intellectually they do, but I would have enjoyed reading about them more if I hadn’t already done so in one of Foster’s other works.

Overall, this is a well-written guide that many will find useful. Perhaps I’ll reference it sometime later on in my senior year or while I’m in college. Foster’s engaged tone and occasional humorous remark makes the information he’s relaying easy to digest, and much better than reading a textbook on the same subjects.

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2 Comments

Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books

2 responses to “How to Read Novels Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

  1. Cathal

    Wow, that person’s review was really thorough! Having done a degree in this stuff, I don’t think any of that would have helped me, but that said I haven’t actually read the book, I’m only basing it off the summary.

    The idea that there is only one story is overstating it in my opinion, but I do generally agree with the idea that there is a limited number of basic stories which are continually reworked and reimagined. The number varies depending on who you’re listening to. Can I ask what it is about the concept of intertextuality that doesn’t impress you?

    • I know! He or she (I think he) definitely took thorough notes while reading – he (or she) pretty much summed up all of the book’s most salient points into an accessible review.

      I agree, he does disclaim and go in-depth about what he means in regard to “one story” in the book – you’ve pretty much nailed it with what you wrote (“limited number of basic stories which are continually reworked and reimagined.”)

      It’s not that the concept of intertextuality doesn’t impress me, it’s just that I wasn’t in awe of it like I first was when I read How to Read Literature Like a Professor. When I read Foster’s first book, I was amazed by the concept of intertextuality, especially because I had never heard of it before. Now, I am still in love with the concept, just not as impressed by it because I had heard of it previously. I hope that makes sense.

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