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The purpose of literature is to make us think. It invites us to reflect on our own lives and the world around us through the eyes of others. Whether you’re reading Homer’s epic poems or a contemporary novel, there’s always something to learn from great literature—even if that means learning how not to read it! That’s why to help you read literature like a pro; the Urban Book Publishers brings you this guide.
Read literature with a pen in hand
This is the most important aspect of reading like a professor. You must have something to write with and on while you’re reading. If you don’t, how will you take notes? How will you ensure that important passages aren’t lost from your brain to your heart? The answer is simple: grab some paper and start writing!
Highlight key passages or write notes in the margin when necessary (or both). This helps readers keep track of their thoughts as they progress through the text. How? It provides visual cues that remind them where they left off reading last time. It tells readers what was said about what topic earlier in the chapter. It also allows us to review those sections later, if necessary, without relying solely upon our memory.
Be sure to do the assigned reading before class
If you’ve got a good professor, they’ll assign a lot of reading. And if you don’t like doing homework, this cannot be very safe. But it will also pay off in spades when it comes to discussion!
If your professor is smart enough to have given out all the readings before class (and most are), start on them ASAP. So this way, when they start talking about something in particular, you’ll already have some insight into it. This will make you look smarter and allow more room for other students’ contributions.
Search for themes, concepts, and motifs
You can use themes, concepts, and motifs to help you understand the work and to Read literature better. A theme is a recurring idea that runs throughout a work of literature. For example, one of the main themes in “The Great Gatsby” is that money can’t buy happiness. This idea is repeated throughout different scenes in different ways. Other examples include love being more important than wealth or power (like in Romeo & Juliet) or good overcoming evil (as seen in The Odyssey).
Watch out for parallel characters and situations
Parallel characters are very common in literature, especially in novels. They’re two or more characters who share some similarities.
If you read the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling and pay attention to how often she uses this technique, you’ll be amazed at just how often it happens!
Parallel characters can appear anywhere: siblings may have similar personalities or traits. Or friends might have similar interests or goals. Even parents may have similar parenting styles (or lack thereof).
To Read literature better, you must find those connections between seemingly unrelated people. Then you can use them as building blocks to create your own stories!
Look for foreshadowing and imagery
Foreshadowing is a literary device that hints at events to come. It can be used to create tension and excitement, or it can create a sense of inevitability.
Foreshadowing is everywhere in literature. Think about how often you’ve read a book and seen the movie, only to realize that the director included hints at what was coming next. These are examples of foreshadowing in life, so keep looking for it if you want to Read literature like a professor.
Pay attention to how characters’ treat each other:
One of the most important things to consider when Read Literature is how characters’ treat each other. In many cases, how two characters interact can tell you a lot about their personalities and what makes them tick.
For example, if one character is mean to another or vice versa, it may be because they have something in common that you don’t see at first glance.
Similarly, if two friends get along well but don’t seem like they would normally get along, something else must be going on besides being friends. Maybe one helped save the other’s life once upon a time?
Recognize that conflict is fundamental to storytelling
The conflict in a story drives it, and you must go into its depth to Read the literature. It makes us keep reading, and it has to be interesting enough that we want to find out how it ends. The conflict can come from external sources (other characters), internal struggles within the main character(s) or both.
This type of conflict doesn’t always have to be resolved by the end of the story. Sometimes unresolved conflicts can make for an even better ending!
Understand the difference between plot and story:
Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they’re quite different. Plot refers to the events in your story–the sequence of actions that makes up its plot line (or skeleton).
The story refers to the meaning behind those actions–why they happened, who was involved and why (or if) it matters. So when we say “plot,” we mean: what happened? When we say “story,” we mean: why did this happen?
Plot-driven narratives focus on events as they unfold; theme-driven narratives explore ideas about human nature or society through characters’ internal struggles with themselves and their surroundings. These can overlap–for example, stories centered around a crime investigation will likely have plot elements (who committed the crime?) and theme (the role of justice in society).
So to Read literature like a professor, you must know this to distinguish the story and the plot, or else you’ll remain confused.
Understanding these distinctions helps us identify themes within texts by looking at how characters interact with one another throughout their course.
Reading literature is a great way to develop your critical thinking skills and learn about the world around you. Following these tips, you can read literature better and see what makes it special.