Art of Reading
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You definitely know how to read. But do you know how to read artfully? Unlike everyday reading, artful reading-the way we read novels and short stories-is less about reading for specific information and more about reading to revel in the literary experience.
It involves recognizing
how a story's particular narrative style affects your connection with its characters,
why authors choose to hint at meanings instead of just writing them out for you,
how the organization of a novel into distinct chapters can affect your engagement with its plot, and much more.
When you approach a work of fiction the way you do an e-mail or report or newspaper, you miss out on all of this. You're not getting everything you should out of the reading experience. Learning the skills and techniques of artful reading can improve your life in many ways.
If you're a fiction reader, they can make your first reading of a new novel or short story feel as rewarding as a second or third reading, and they can give you new perspectives on works you already cherish.
If you're an aspiring writer, they can help you understand the methods that great writers use to tackle literary concepts-successful methods you can then apply to your own writing.
If you're a book club member, they can enliven discussions and provide your group with engaging activities to create even deeper appreciations of the works you're reading.
If you're a student, they can improve and enhance the close reading skills essential to success in high school, college, and beyond.
And the best part: These skills are not difficult or unwieldy; rather, they are well within your reach. According to award-winning Professor Timothy Spurgin, who has made a career of enlightening students about the benefits of artful reading, great readers are made, not born.
This idea forms the core of The Art of Reading, Professor Spurgin's entertaining 24-lecture course that brings together concepts and techniques rarely found in a single package. Teaching with an engaging and conversational style, he gives you the knowledge and methods to approach even the most daunting reading experience with increased confidence.
Master the Fundamentals of Fiction
An artful reading experience relies on a concrete grasp of the basic elements of fiction, and The Art of Reading is a great way to master them. Throughout the first half of the course, you learn the definitions and characteristics of terms such as authorship, master plot, theme, genre, and metafiction.
While some of these nuts-and-bolts concepts may be familiar to you, Professor Spurgin examines them from multiple angles, revealing hidden meanings that can escape even experienced readers. For example:
How many types of realism are there?
What are the differences between a work's plot and its story?
How can you spot ambiguity in a passage and not confuse it with irony?
Professor Spurgin's answers to these and other hazy questions about the fundamentals of fiction are easily understandable and never bogged down in complicated literary theory. In some instances, he emphasizes a particular element's purposes, strengths, and weaknesses through exercises in which you mentally "rewrite" passages by iconic writers. One intriguing exercise asks you how Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" would read if it were narrated in the third person instead of the first person.
01 Artful Reading and Everyday Reading
02 Authors, Real and Implied
03 Narrators-Their Voices and Their Visions
04 Characters-Beyond Round and Flat
05 Descriptions-People, Places, and Things
06 Minimalists to Maximalists to Lyricists
07 Explosive Devices-Irony and Ambiguity
08 Reading for the Plot-Five Simple Words
09 Master Plots-The Stranger and the Journey
10 The Game Is Afoot-Sherlock Holmes
11 The Plot Thickens-Scott and Brontë
12 The Plot Vanishes-Faulkner and Woolf
13 Chapters, Patterns, and Rhythms
14 Scene and Summary, Showing and Telling
15 Subtexts, Motives, and Secrets
16 Dialogue-The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
17 Metafiction-Fiction about Fiction
18 Adaptation-From Fiction to Film
19 Realism Times Four
20 Thumbs Up?-Interpretation and Evaluation
21 A Long Short Story-"Runaway"
22 A Classic Novel-The Age of Innocence
23 A Baggy Monster-War and Peace
24 Picking Up the Tools