How to Read a Novel

A User's Guide

John Sutherland

St. Martin's Press

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“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 tête-à-têtes 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 more 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).

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Reviews

Praise for How to Read a Novel

"How to Read a Novel is a lighthearted, often funny book. And oddly calming. There may not be time to read everything, but at least there is some hope of doing it well."--The Los Angeles Times
 
"It's ridiculously fun reading for book lovers."--The Tampa Tribune
 
"A quick and lively view of the novel that mixes practical wisdom and theory...highly recommended."--Library Journal

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About the Author

John Sutherland

John Sutherland is Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London and a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology. He has published and edited numerous books.  He writes a weekly column for The Guardian, and also writes for The New York Times Book Review and London Review of Books. He was the committee chairman for the 2005 Man Booker Prize.

John Sutherland

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Available Formats and Book Details

How to Read a Novel
A User's Guide
John Sutherland

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
December 2013
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466859999
ISBN10: 1466859997
272 pages, Includes black-and-white illustrations throughout
$7.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
September 2007
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312359898
ISBN10: 0312359896
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 272 pages, Includes black-and-white illustrations throughout
$18.99
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