Shades Of Words

How to Read Novels like a Professor


I have loved reading ever since I can remember. If it had been possible for me at all I would have studied and taught literature. Since I did something entirely different in my life it was always a desire to study literature. I always feel that when  read I am missing stuff – the in-between the lines, the symbolism. I kinda , sorta grasp the larger and deeper meanings but not entirely. So I am always on the lookout for articles or books that help me read better. When I saw ‘How to Read Novels like a Professor’  in my library, I took it in a wink.

I really really enjoyed reading it. Thomas Foster writes in a completely engaging style not once sounding like a professor 🙂 or a textbook. I learned quite a few things – elements to recognize as you read, relationship of the writer and reader, the influences on a narrative, the changes in the form of the novel in the last three to four hundred years. I am huge fan of the victorian novels which I now realize are serialized novels with tidy endings.Foster does not seem to be fond of tidy complete endings and I almost felt defensive of Dickens ( who I believe was a genius with a masterful command of English language) whose work was proabably the most traditional victorian style of it all. However,I admit that when I read 20th century literature ,  more than the story  itself, I am always looking for unique form and structure. Because at the end of the day – its all one large human story. Novels are all about presentation.  That is the reason I loved David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red. Its challenging and fun to keep up with writers whose narratives surprise you from chapter to chapter. I also learned something very basic – there is no right way or wrong way to read the book.

This books acts as a very good guide to anyone wanting to be a big fiction writer. Yes, its more about how to write a novel rather than how to read a novel.For me apart from the learning elements, the most fun part of the book was the references to novels while explaining his point. As Foster puts it – the books is ‘ a giant reading list’. I loved to see so many familiar names, but was also disheartened to know that I have read so few pieces of good literature.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves reading. Period.


Author: Vipula

Before talking about who we are, we’d like to tell you a bit about how and why Shades of Words came into being. It all started with the idea of “A place where we could share with likeminded people about things we enjoy. From books to music to movies to travel; Shades of Words was to be a place about the best of our experiences” We thought about why should anyone read us? The answer was that whatever we review would be a mix of our experience of the thing along with interesting and useful information about it. So in case you are reading us regularly or even checking us out once in a while then we have succeeded in our efforts someway somewhere. Who are we? Known as Kapil Sood and Vipula Gupta, we thought of Shades of Words on one fine Sunday afternoon. Tired of writing interesting RFP’s and project documentation; we decided to give this a shot. Yes! We work in Indian IT industry. Cupid struck us while were innocently slogging together on the highly intricate job of formatting and beautifying documents! And since then, we have been working together to establish Shades of Words as a place that we can claim as ours. (Because buying a house is still years away!) What else? Kapil also writes some blogs which you can read here and here.

5 thoughts on “How to Read Novels like a Professor

  1. Perhaps you should now also read his other book, how to read literature like a professor…

  2. 😀 well good to know that this book is interesting than the one I discovered.

    Perhaps you should follow Kapil’s suggestion and read the next one too 😛

    I just don’t know about such books…I initially felt compelled to understand every line or nuance of a story but later realized that if I followed the guidelines…then it wouldn’t be me. So while I try to understand the story and the dialogue…I go with my instincts while blogging about them.

  3. Kapil – yes , i should..but i think it will be repetitive – i believe one of these by the writer was a marketing gimmick

    Zoya – I would recommend reading this books because they just add to your reading experience..they dont make it dull or pedantic. also give you host of ideas on the great books out there

  4. This book is ridiculous. Full of useless opinions and is utterly repetitive it serves only as a book to be read when one is faced with insomnia. The writing style sounds like someone attempting to talk to a three year old without much luck.

  5. Hi Wren – thanks for stopping by . I don’t remember finding the book that terrible..too bad you found it so pathetic. However, there is definitely tonnes of substantially better stuff out there !!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s