How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide

How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide By John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel A User s Guide Do we still know how to read a novel John Sutherland Chairman of the Booker Prize Committee asks His disheartened answer is an unequivocal No But Sutherland has not given up hope With acerbic
  • Title: How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide
  • Author: John Sutherland
  • ISBN: 9781861979865
  • Page: 278
  • Format: Unknown Binding
  • How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide By John Sutherland, Do we still know how to read a novel John Sutherland, Chairman of the 2005 Booker Prize Committee, asks His disheartened answer is an unequivocal, No But Sutherland has not given up hope With acerbic wit and intellect, he traces the history of what it used to mean to be well read and tells readers what it still means today Using this delightful book as a means to Do we still know how to read a novel John Sutherland, Chairman of the 2005 Booker Prize Committee, asks His disheartened answer is an unequivocal, No But Sutherland has not given up hope With acerbic wit and intellect, he traces the history of what it used to mean to be well read and tells readers what it still means today Using this delightful book as a means to an end, he reminds readers how the delicate charms of fiction can be at once wonderful and inspired and infuriating On one level this is a book about novels how they work, what they re about, what makes them good or bad, and how to talk about them At a deeper level, this is a book in which one of the most intimate t te t tes is described one in which a reader meets a novel Will a great love affair begin Will the rendezvous end in disappointment Who can say In order for the relationship to take its appropriate course all the details must be clearly acknowledged and understood for their complexities plot, point of view, character, style, pace, first and last sentences, and even beauty Still, Sutherland knows a true understanding of fiction is than a flirtation with text and style it is a business Taking his readers on a trip to the bookshop, he helps them judge a book by its cover based on design and color, wondering aloud what genre might be best, even going so far as to analyze one of the latest American bestsellers to further help the buying reader choose the novel that is right for him or her In a book that is as wry and humorous as it is learned and opinionated, John Sutherland tells you everything you always wanted to know about how to read fiction better than you do now but, were afraid to ask.
    How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide By John Sutherland,
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    About "John Sutherland"

    1. John Sutherland

      John Andrew Sutherland is an English lecturer, emeritus professor, newspaper columnist and author.Now Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London, John Sutherland began his academic career after graduating from the University of Leicester as an assistant lecturer in Edinburgh in 1964 He specialises in Victorian fiction, 20th century literature, and the history of publishing.Apart from writing a regular column in the The Guardian newspaper, Sutherland has published seventeen as of 2004 books and is editing the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Popular Fiction The series of books which starts with Was Heathcliff a Murderer has brought him a wide readership The books in the series are collections of essays Each essay takes a piece of classic fiction, almost always from the Victorian period Carefully going over every word of the text, Sutherland highlights apparent inconsistencies, anachronisms and oversights, and explains references which the modern reader is likely to overlook In some cases he demonstrates the likelihood that the author simply forgot a minor detail In others, apparent slips on the part of the author are presented as evidence that something is going on beyond the surface of the book which is not explicitly described such as his explanation for why Sherlock Holmes should mis address Miss Stoner as Miss Roylott in The Adventure of the Speckled Band.In 2001, he published Last Drink to LA, a moving chronicle of his alcoholism and his return to sobriety.In 2005, he was involved in Dot Mobile s project to translate summaries and quotes of classic literature into text messaging shorthand In the same year he was also Chair of Judges for the Booker Prize.In June 2007 he published an autobiography The Boy Who Loved Books A Memoir On 18 December 2007 his annotated edition of Robert Louis Stevenson s The Black Arrow was released by Penguin Books.

    458 thoughts on “How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide”

    1. Like many descriptions, the one above simply reproduces the glowing jacket copy That needs to be taken with a grain or a block of salt When I told my wife and oldest daughter that I d bought a remaindered copy of this book for a dollar, they were both skeptical they felt that since I ve been reading novels for over 50 years, I don t need any instruction in that area As a general principle, I m sure I could benefit from insight and systematic instruction, never having had much literary training [...]


    2. I love books about books books telling you what to read, how to read, when to read, why to read, etc If you don t, this is likely not your book If you do, it s right up your alley This is a fun, tidbit packed look at the modern novel With a wry, humorous, and decidedly British voice, the author discusses the novel s history, form, and components, all with an eye toward helping the reader bring a bit context to his her reading Each chapter is a self contained essay and reads very well alone The [...]


    3. WOOO I M DONE WITH IT I am so glad that I m done with it You may think I m being a bit dramatic, considering the book s only 250 pages, and I spent two days reading it not even two full days, just free minutes within them , so it s not like it took me a long time But it felt like time was dragging when I was reading it.It s not a bad book, per se It s just totally and utterly useless to any bibliophiles who have spent the better part of their life reading Or anyone who reads and constantly evalu [...]


    4. As the title suggests, a thoroughly pretentious, often infuriating, very occasionally interesting exercise by an important critic whose name I d never heard of Sutherland s prose flies by the only reason I finished the thing , and he does manage to provide some solid information on the history of the novel though nothing that you wouldn t have learned in any decent Literature 101 class When discussing modern literature, his examples rely heavily and predictably on nominees and laureates of the M [...]


    5. I d thought this book to be an exploration of the innards of a novel plot, structure, etc which it s not But I found it no less enjoyable for being instead an extended love letter to the form, with such discourses as the history of the novel, the use of genres, critical receptions, celebrity authors, the hidden secrets to be gleaned from the copyright page, what to think of film adaptations or book reviews or bestseller lists, and a hell of a lot Some of these subjects are just 3 or 4 pages in [...]


    6. I tried, but I could not finish this book It might be great for someone who has literally never read a novel, but for people who love to read, most of his insights are useless For example, did you know that you shouldn t judge the worth of a book based on how many copies it has sold Did you know that at the back of many books, you can find a little paragraph about the font Did you know that you should take reviews of books with a grain of salt Really I had no idea Because this is the first book [...]


    7. A slightly misleading title ironic the back cover says the book will help us recognize a misleading title at first glance This is not one of those Harold Bloom or James Woods how fiction works type books It s casual and chatty it discusses publishing, dust covers, fonts and margins, author photographs, book reviews, awards the author served on the Man Booker jury , whether Martians will understand Pride and Prejudice, whether John Banville understood Ian McEwan s Saturday, whether Bret Easton El [...]


    8. A breezy turn about the literary manor, with choice glimpses of the common muck beyond the walls It s hard not to enjoy a book written by someone so clearly enamoured with books and reading, though he is far too caught up in the catty, rarified world of letters to properly connect with the average reader i.e me.


    9. I have a weakness for books about books how to read them, the history of them, how they re made or collected, the crazy people that would risk their lives or livelihoods for them This one is a bit odd, in that it isn t really about reading novels in any lit crit or historical sense, but about how to choose what novels to read when we are inundated with so many choices If you need an idea of the tone of the book, I ll just say that the blurb on the back of the book was written by the author himse [...]


    10. I was a little surprised how negative people have been about this book, and I wonder if it is because it has been mis titled It s not really a guide to how to read a novel, whatever that might involve, but a series of short, well written essays on novels and the book trade Some of the highlights I particularly enjoyed I m a Martian, will I understand Pride and Prejudice which looked at the question of how much one s enjoyment and appreciation of a novel can depend on what you know about the worl [...]


    11. A series of very interesting thoughts on the place of the book in today s world Sutherland writes with refreshing clarity and characteristic humour on the literary world and how it works He covers everything one would consider as bookish from fonts to binding, from scathing reviews to film adaptations, from titles to covers I can judge from the other reviews, however, that the title of the book has been quite misleading Sutherland does not actually teach you how to read a novel He doesn t go thr [...]


    12. This book pissed me off than any other book I have ever read Most books I despise at least have the decency to bore me to the point where I have to throw it across the room in a petulant fury whereas this book teases you with a hint of insight or profundity that eventually leads to what I like to call analytical blue balls I finished the bookI was cock teased the entire timeI don t normally review books I don t like, but I had to warn others about this one It spends time talking about the outs [...]


    13. Don t get me wrong I m a great fan of Sutherland His Lives of The Novelists is a lovely laid back TRAIPSE through literature, far in advance of Sam Johnson s Lives of the Poets.The problem is that How to Read a Novel is not about how to read a novel at all Instead, it s a jolly romp through what Sutherland knows about books a lot and his adventures along the way It s lovely to learn what copyright means and where novels began and the ins and outs of authorical rivalry but it ain t reading Now an [...]


    14. I like John Sutherland s style, his wit, and his choice of reading While much of this book contained information that was not new to me, there were bits of wisdom about reading novels within every chapter that made the book worthwhile Anyone who rates Raymond Chandler above John Steinbeck is okay in my book This is a book for readers who relish the book as well as the reading of the book If you are interested in an overview of the novel and reading along with wry and witty comments on the publis [...]


    15. In all honesty, this strange and quirky guidebook didn t tell me much I didn t know already some of it seems to be aimed at passing Martians who have never previously come across a novel I always enjoy reading John Sutherland, though, and there are a lot of humorous comments about all sorts of books thrown in along the way.



    16. I can consider this as a fine read.To be honest, it is the book s title that drew my attention along with the author starting with the subject of the huge and increasing supply of novels books in general in the recent years compared to the past which readers had better time for reading But I have to state that the title might deceive some readers looking for a step by step guide or manual of the actual reading process of the novel where this book is NOT such a guide But this book is still a guid [...]


    17. Well written, but not particularly helpful or insightful for someone who is already a reader Some of the essays touched on interesting ideas, but they were too short to really develop them meaningfully Rather shallow for its 200 300 pages, but not altogether terrible is the verdict here.



    18. Based on the title, I expected to learn how to best reap the rewards of a good novel, how to pay attention to subtleties of plot, character, setting, theme, symbols, etc That is not what the book gives, however, and I was disappointed John Sutherland was very interested in talking about novels he s encountered and talking ABOUT the novel as a medium, but he s not giving a course on reading literature as I understand reading to mean It finally dawned on me the title How to Read a Novel refers to [...]


    19. Quite thoughtful and quite funny, and for some reason oddly misnamed You see, Professor Sutherland s book is seemingly about everything related to novels EXCEPT how to read them Or at best gives up a few squibs tangentially related to the topic, I suppose Having said that, I still enjoyed the book, and learned a great deal Learned what Well, first off, despite considering myself an inveterate reader I was horrified to discover how little I ve read and both how wide and deep my ignorance of liter [...]


    20. the pedestrian three stars rating for this book s rather confusing who this book is aimed to not people who just started getting interested in reading novel, it s not really novel reading for dummies perhaps for novel reader veteran who has already clocked hundreds of novel just for them to have a bit a laugh down the memory lane it did amuse me, though i wouldn t say that it helped me to finally navigate myself better in the middle of publishing onslaugh that we re living now which sutherland r [...]


    21. This has been my breakfast book for the past several weeks Since it is not something I will probably ever finish cover to cover, now seems as good a time as any to review it.Sutherland offers an idiosyncratic tour of the English novel through the lives of 294 novelists By default, any survey of the novel that includes only 204 authors will be idiosyncratic The choice of whom to include is going to be highly personal I read the 25 entries from the 17th and 18th century straight through, but the u [...]


    22. The only reason this book gets two stars instead of one is that I didn t actively dislike it It was easy to read and mildly interesting I wanted to keep reading I kept hoping to actually learn How to Read a Novel The book, or rather the title, is a brilliant example of marketing As an avid reader, a lover of novels and an English teacher of 21st century teenagers, how could I NOT pick up a book that promises to teach us how novels work, what they re about, what makes them good or bad, and how to [...]


    23. The man is an inveterate reader and a good storyteller, and when he moseys along through his bookish world, I enjoy him very much Sometimes not, though, such as when his Britishness shines forth as chauvinism rather than wit It is no accident that the novel came into being after the Queen Anne copyright act of 1710, the first in the world Much as I omitted to take down that sentence s page number, he omits to explain why he overlooks Don Quixote as the first novel, let alone Tale of the Genji He [...]


    24. I liked this book okay I always get into these sorts of metaliterary actual word things in December, after National Write a Novel Month These books about books about books about books That is, I indulge in hard core bookish introspective navel gazing I get all weird about writing and what does the novel mean and what does fiction mean and am I doing a good job and and Last year it was Francine Prose s real name book Reading Like a Writer, followed by On Writing by Eudora Welty This years festivi [...]


    25. Recently I went into Waterstones and saw something else by John Sutherland How to Be Well Read it s an absolutely massive tomb on literature that Sutherland has chosen as part of a reader s wellness when it comes to their personal library I guess Of course the idea of being well read seems debatable, but all the books Sutherland uses in his How to Read a Novel are, to some of us, of some weight He quotes from Zadie Smith s On Beauty a personal favourite perhaps because he was the Chairman of the [...]


    26. Sutherland is obviously well read, and any reader can discover this from his effortless allusions to well known classics to today s popular fiction, to books I ve never heard of Thankfully, the latter is a small number His prose is easy to read despite it being full of asides to his audience If you don t know much about the publishing industry, this is a great introductory book, as Sutherland goes through the history of the novel, as well as take the novel apart, explaining every facet of the bo [...]


    27. What I enjoy about this book so far is that English ironic voice I don t know where I was in the book when I made that first sentence but now that I ve stuggled to finish the book, I m drastically down grading it At the end, I was left thinking the best thing about this self serving, ego fawning rant is the title, which is a misnomer Perhaps because as an author I know what the copyright page can tell a prospective reader, that reviews can be self serving, ego puffing and that the prizes are too [...]


    28. How to Read a Book is a book about books Sutherland offers readers an interesting history of the novel, as well as attempts to help readers sift through the deluge of books available today His writing is full of wry humor and has a conversational tone, making this a highly readable book About halfway through the book, it seemed like the chapters were made up of references to specific novels, rather than general information about novels and I found myself skimming a lot It is clear that Sutherl [...]


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