Into the Book

This book was recommended to me, unsurprisingly, by my English teacher. In a few words: you will become a better reader, and writer, by reading this book. If you even remotely consider yourself a book lover, you must pick up this book.

Everyone can pick up a good book and enjoy it. There are few who can pick up a good book and truly understand and absorb it. By studying the principles in this book, you will be able to dig deeper into literature and understand all of the layered meaning behind the work you’re reading.

Everything is a symbol, Foster claims. Well, not totally. But close enough, especially when you’re dealing with tricksy authors who love to, well…trick you. Foster looks at how little things, like the weather or frequent use of metaphors, can lend a new depth to the writing. In fact, most writing is layer upon layer of meaning, and there’s an incredible amount of depth that can be found in just one book.

This is not an encyclopedia of dry literary devices that writers use to convey meaning. It is a living book that shoves you into deep waters and teaches you how to swim. It is a jumping-off point to develop your own opinions and understanding of literature. It’s learning the way learning should be.

In covering good literature, Foster also greatly helps those of us who write. This book studies essential topics like theme, foreshadowing, symbolism, significance, and myriad other topics. Most of it’s geared towards readers, but I found the book to have more of an impact on my writing than my reading; after all, understanding the writing of those who’ve gone before is the best way to improve your own writing. Foster drills into us the significance of specific aspects in writing: weather, geography, violence, vampires, Shakespear, sex, and quests.

This book is not for beginners, though in a way it is. A healthy love for reading and some knowledge of literature’s classics would serve you well in this ‘class-in-a-book’ — so would a few high school literature classes taught by a good teacher who truly loves reading. Ultimately, any lover of reading will find How to Read Literature Like a Professor essential.

~ Andrew

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Published on 30 July, 2012. Last updated on


  1. Eustacia Tan

    Oh I loved this book! I recommended it to my Junior as a crash course for literature(: Have you read How To Read Novels Like a Professor? It’s about the same but the analysis is more specific(:

    • Andrew Joyce

      I haven’t, but I saw it on Barnes and Noble when I bought this one. Since I liked this one so much I’ll probably pick up the other, too 🙂

      ~ Andrew

  2. Corey P.

    If you even remotely consider yourself a book lover, you must pick up this book.

    Well, I guess that settles it then. *adds to TBR pile* Don’t know whether to thank you or curse you, Andrew… you’re making my to-be-read pile bigger. 😉

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