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Reflection on the Book How to Read Literature Like a Professor

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While reading How to Read Literature Like a Professor many aspects of books I have read began to make sense. This book began to open up the world of literature and gave me an understanding as to why authors put certain concepts and events in their books. It helped me to realize books may have hidden meanings that help to build and develop the plot to help the reader better grasp the book. Reading this book did have its difficulties as well. Some parts were tough to read due to things like uninterest and losing focus, but most chapters were very interesting and eye-opening to the world of reading. Many of these chapters were very easy to relate to other books and helped uncover hidden meanings in certain parts and scenes of books.

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In chapter 7, “…Or the Bible” Foster explains that certain animals, events, and food items can be linked to the Bible. Authors sometimes add “garden, serpent, plagues, floods, parting of waters, fish, loaves, betrayal, denial, slavery and escape, fatted calves, milk and honey” (Foster 30), and many other biblical references to their stories to help the readers visualize what is happening and link the book to something they know. An example of a biblical reference can be seen in the book The Chronicles of Narnia The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. In this book a battle between the White Witch and Aslan can be compared to the theme of the Bible where good battles evil, just as Jesus battles Satan/Sin. Aslan is seen as nice, kind, and hopeful and spreads his “light” throughout Narnia. Many compare and link to Aslan and his actions to Jesus, which can help readers visualize the effects of Aslan, and give them a better understanding of the storyline because readers are able to link the two characters together.

In chapter 20, “…So Does Season” Foster explains that the season in which an event happens plays a big part in its meaning and significance. Foster goes on to explain the different words, feelings, and emotions related to each season relating spring to childhood and youth, summer to fulfillment and passion, autumn with decline and tiredness, and winter with resentment and death (Foster 94). These words and emotions we link to seasons help us to understand what the character is going through or link events to undercover metaphors or meanings. An example of how an author uses the seasons to develop the story can be seen in the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Anderson uses snow during the winter months to represent Melinda’s frozen thoughts and how she freezes everytime she tries to talk about her incident with Andy Evans. As the the warmer days come with spring and summer, Melinda begins to “thaw” and begins to open up to people about her incident which helps Andy get caught. The season changing from a harsh winter to a soothing summer represent Melinda’s character changing from fearful and scared person to a more happy and open person.

In chapter 10, “It’s More Than Just Rain or Snow” Foster describes how the weather affects the setting and mood of stories and are very important in the development of a story and theme. Foster states “weather is never just weather. It’s never just rain.” and “That dark and stormy evening has worlds of atmosphere and mood.” (Foster 44) which is explaining that weather is put into books for a purpose, not just because the author felt like changing the weather for fun. In the series “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, we can see many instances where weather plays a big part in the story. In the first book, when Katniss and Peeta are “trapped” in a cave during the games due to the rain, it helps them to rest, become stronger, and become closer to each other. In this situation the rain symbolizes the washing off their weakness and past conflicts. Another example of how weather can be used as a symbol is when Cato dies as the hounds attack him. As this scene is described, the weather turns to extreme cold temperatures which are symbolizing the death of Cato being cold, and is representing Cato’s personality, cold and harsh.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor has been a very enjoyable book to read. The concepts Foster talks about are very helpful in learning how to understanding the author’s purpose in including certain events, references, and symbols throughout their books. Fosters work has been very insightful in helping open up a new world of reading and a new level of deeper understanding for literature. This book will be a great source to look back to when in need of a better understanding of a book and why the author has included certain situations and will help uncover the hidden meanings and symbolism the author has placed throughout the book.

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