Back in June when I was in New Orleans for the American Library Association Convention, I stopped by Maple Street Book Shop, one of my all-time favorite independent bookstores. (Note: Maple Street Book Shop closed for good in 2015)
There I picked up “How to Read Literature Like Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines” by Thomas C. Foster. I was drawn to this because although I read a lot, I recognize that I read on largely a surface level. I wanted reminding of how to pay better attention to symbol and metaphor.
This book was exactly what I wanted. It’s a quick walk through how certain things, like spring (the season) or travel, nearly always point to an abstract idea, one that the author might employ straightforwardly, or possibly engage ironically. This book reads quickly, and Foster takes pains to be light and humorous. The book’s chapters include, “When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare….” and “It’s More Than Just rain or Snow” and “If It’s Square, It’s a Sonnet.”
I’m quite sure that I learned these things in high school or college English courses, but I badly needed the reminders. Indeed, I have been spending time reflecting on recent fiction I’ve read, in light of what Professor Foster (of the University of Michigan at Flint) shares. This book enriched my reading.
While our library doesn’t own this book, I certainly recommend that if it sounds interesting to you, you may want to explore our Interlibrary Loan service.