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How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

John Sutherland

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Kurzbeschreibung

10. August 2006
People of all ages, classes and nationalities read novels for much the same variety of reasons - to escape pain or danger, to discover the past or experience the future, to look into the intimate details of other people's lives. Since classical times readers have been sharing their experiences of literature, today they often do so in the context of a book group. Using a variety of exemplary texts "How to Read a Novel" forms a series of intelligent conversations, supplying readers with new questions to ask about what they read and the means and confidence to ask those questions. The word 'reading', as we customarily use it, is a very blunt instrument. We assume it's rather like riding a bicycle. You can do it (you're literate) or you can't (you're illiterate). In fact, reading well is almost as difficult as writing well. This is a kind of guidebook on how to do it.

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"'Engaging, intelligent.' The Times 'Sutherland takes us on a swift and entertaining tour of fiction's engine room... Passionate about his subject... he reminds us, quoting Paul Auster, "it is the reader who writes the book and not the writer".' TLS 'I can't think of anyone better qualified, anyone with quite the same combination of pizzazz, technical know-how and sheer enthusiasm as Professor Sutherland.' Independent on Sunday" -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

Synopsis

People of all ages, classes and nationalities read novels for much the same variety of reasons - to escape pain or danger, to discover the past or experience the future, to look into the intimate details of other people's lives. Since classical times readers have been sharing their experiences of literature, today they often do so in the context of a book group. Using a variety of exemplary texts "How to Read a Novel" forms a series of intelligent conversations, supplying readers with new questions to ask about what they read and the means and confidence to ask those questions. The word 'reading', as we customarily use it, is a very blunt instrument. We assume it's rather like riding a bicycle. You can do it (you're literate) or you can't (you're illiterate). In fact, reading well is almost as difficult as writing well. This is a kind of guidebook on how to do it.

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Amazon.com: 2.9 von 5 Sternen  7 Rezensionen
23 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen "So many novels, so little time." 7. Dezember 2006
Von E. Bukowsky - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
John Sutherland's splendid "How to Read a Novel" is a comprehensive guidebook to an art form that is very dear to my librarian's heart. Sutherland's credentials are impressive: he has taught Modern English Literature at University College London, served as the committee chairman for the 2005 Man Booker Prize, and writes for such prestigious publications as The Guardian and The London Review of Books. Sutherland's professed goal is to help overwhelmed book borrowers and purchasers make more informed choices than they would by merely browsing through their local library or bookstore.

The author is nothing if not thorough, covering everything from the history of the novel (its format has changed surprisingly little over time) to its many distinct parts, including the dust jacket, copyright page, title, epigraph, foreword, afterword, opening, conclusion, and even the font. How much stock should we put in blurbs that gushingly declare a suspense novel to be "taut and riveting"? Would we better off slavishly following the advice of some curmudgeonly critic who urges us to avoid the very same novel, since it is hackneyed and melodramatic tripe? Is an intimate knowledge of the cultural background and setting of a book indispensable to its appreciation? What role does genre play in a reader's enjoyment of a particular work of fiction? What factors go into making one book a bestseller and/or a literary prize winner while another is quickly forgotten and dumped into a store's remainder bin? Can movies and novels coexist comfortably or do cinematic adaptations inevitably destroy our enjoyment of the printed work on which the movie is based? Do novels have any lasting value beyond their ability to entertain us for a few hours?

The well-read, highly literate, and somewhat opinionated Sutherland brilliantly and amusingly answers these and other lively questions. Although I am a presumably knowledgeable librarian, the author's occasionally arcane prose had me checking the meaning of quite a few unfamiliar words and allusions (costive, belletristic, Zoilism, to name a few) that permeate this book. In addition, "How to Read a Novel" is geared more to a British than an American audience; the British cultural references may have some readers on my side of the Atlantic scratching their heads in bewilderment. I was none too pleased with Sutherland's derisive (although obviously tongue-in-cheek) attitude towards librarians. He tars us all with one brush as being narrow-minded fussbudgets. Shame on you, Mr. Sutherland!

However, these quibbles are offset by the author's exuberant love of reading and his understanding of what makes a novel addict come back time and time again for another fix. In "How to Read a Novel," John Sutherland takes us on a delightful and entertaining journey, citing numerous passages from such works as Zadie Smith's "On Beauty," Ian McEwen's "Saturday," Michael Cunningham's "The Hours," Salman Rushdie's "Shalimar the Clown," and J. M. Coetzee's "Disgrace" to illustrate his witty and thought-provoking comments. I suspect that many readers will be unable to resist looking at "How to Read a Novel" more than once, the better to absorb its nuances and appreciate its lively analysis of what makes novels so eternally beloved.
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Breezy, Conversational Look Inside the Book Trade 20. Mai 2009
Von K. Nishikawa - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
I agree with other reviewers' complaints about Sutherland offering little concrete advice on precisely "how to read a novel." Sutherland starts off well, acknowledging that "In the past getting books, or access to books, was the problem. Today the problem is staggering out from under the book avalanche" (6). One would expect Sutherland to begin with some tips on selecting a few choice novels to read (depending on one's background, novel-reading aims, and "taste") among the plethora of material out there. He doesn't do this, unfortunately, electing instead to pepper his "guide" with numerous anecdotes about authors, publishers, reviewers, and readers. In this regard, *How to Read a Novel* is decidedly NOT a user-friendly book -- Sutherland leaves unanswered the all-important question of "What do you want to get out of reading a novel?" Other critics, such as Mortimer Adler, Harold Bloom, and Thomas Foster, have tackled precisely this question, and I recommend looking at their guides if you're interested in pursuing a structured course of reading in the Information Age.

Nonetheless, despite the book's insufficiencies as a guide, Sutherland does provide an engaging "insider's" view of the modern book trade, from its origins in the nineteenth century to the digital revolution. This shouldn't be surprising, given that Sutherland is a noted authority in book history studies, and particularly in the study of the Anglo-American publishing industries. If you'd like to learn more about the rise of the modern book-form (hardcover and paperback), the origin of bestseller lists, and the politics of book reviewing and book prize-judging, then *How to Read a Novel* is for you, hands down. Sutherland writes in a breezy, conversational style which some readers (seeking advice) will find horribly imprecise. But for those who wish to learn a bit more about modern book publishing from a learned yet informal perspective, Sutherland will indeed prove to be a useful guide to you.
9 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen A waste of time 20. November 2007
Von Cully Larson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
This book is absolutely useless. I purchased it with the understanding that the author would enlighten me on how to better read fiction. The problem is that Sutherland never actually does that. He talks A LOT about how many books there are these days and how daunting a task it is to wade through them all. He discusses how choose a book, book titles, book covers, methods of finding books. But, he never writes a bit about how to READ a novel. Well, he may have written a bit about it, but only incidentally--seemingly as a mistake.
3 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen "How to Read a Novel" is useless. 8. März 2010
Von Kammy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
This is a complete misleading title. There are no clues how to read a novel nor what to look for. The author simply quotes books and short sections of them without much comment nor help for others.
A waste of time and money. I will throw it in the bin as I feel too embarrased to offer it to friends who I am sure could advise me better on how to read a novel.
11 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Misleading Title; Tedious; Spoilers Throughout 10. Juni 2007
Von C. Houvener - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I purchased "How to Read a Novel" believing that it was about how to read a novel. Rather, it's a tedious overview of "the novel's" history. Granted, I'm only 2/3 through, at page 163. But a glance at the upcoming chapter titles enlivens no new anticipation for me. Basically, every chapter can be outlined thus:

- Mention the subject (ex. "Should I write in my book?")

- Talk a little about the history (ex. Marginalia in publishing) - focus on impressing reader by throwing out ever name of every book possible, and insert horrible attempts at parenthetical wit that ruin the endings of so many "must reads."

- Conclude with obvious, no-brainer advice. (ex. "If you want to.")

This book has spoiled the endings of no less than three books that I have sitting on my reading queue shelf, and two that I was planning on buying, but now want to wait on in the hopes that I'll forget the endings he revealed.

Sutherland's writing is often awkward; he is no talent. This book is more like a reader's self indulgent "look what I've read" than an illuminating manual that will enrich your reading life.

That being said, if you are interested in the history of the novel (the physical bound form, reviews, author's choices of titles and pseudonyms, typography, etc) this is a hearty recommendation, if you are willing to cringe your way through a few spoilers that you'll regret. If you are interested in How to Read a Novel - how to enrich your experience and interact with a book - find something else.

The only two things I'm learning from this book are that I should REALLY learn how to STOP reading a bad book halfway and save myself the struggle and, if a book's blurb is written BY THE AUTHOR and says "This is a truly important book," know that it is a self-indulgent, ill-writ, mislabeled atrocity that couldn't get an adequate blurb from anyone else.

If you happen across the book, above the blurb, read the back cover's text, "How to Read an Endorsement," and tell me you don't crack up at the irony of the page. If you happen across the book, walk away.
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