I have been SO busy over these last few weeks. Moreover, I’ve been really tired. So I haven’t actually done a whole lot of reading. I haven’t finished many books for my 2015 Reading Challenge lately. I still haven’t, but this is my current book recommendation, so I wanted to share.
I’ve been reading How to Read Literature Like a Professor because my sister had to read it for school. It’s great for English majors who need a refresher/breakdown of the layers of meaning that go into the books they read, or for someone who just enjoys reading but wants a deeper appreciation of it.
Foster takes examples from classic literature, modern literature, and even films/songs in pop culture and breaks them down via symbolism and allusions. He shows us how to examine the stories that we are fed everyday for their deeper meanings. And I have a theory.
My two main thoughts: he basically agrees with John Green, who says that books belong to their readers. He discusses how certain things are symbolic (how almost anything can be symbolic) and that, while the author may have a certain meaning in mind, the reader brings their own learning and life experiences to the story and get out different things based on those backgrounds. No symbol is cut and dry.
My other thought is based on my recent experience working on my novel. This book has given me a lot of ideas for how to develop it and probe a little deeper into my story, but the first thing I considered about “things to symbolize”…was something I had unconsciously written into it in the first place. So while occasionally writers intentionally make a meaning out of something, I think other times it’s possible they write it in accidentally, but choose to leave it in.
My point is that this book is really well written in a conversational tone, the guy knows what he’s talking about, and every example or idea he goes into he backs up with plenty of relevant examples.
Go read it. You’ll be glad you did.