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How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Practical Guide to Enhancing Your Literary Acumen

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How to Read Literature Like a Professor PDF - A Gateway to Academic ReadingYou've probably heard of the book "How to Read Literature Like a Professor"...

How to Read Literature Like a Professor PDF - A Gateway to Academic Reading

You've probably heard of the book "How to Read Literature Like a Professor" by Thomas C. Foster, a lively and entertaining guide that teaches you the skills you need to interpret literary works just like an academic. But have you ever wondered how professors actually read?

If you've found yourself reading between the lines, you're on the right track. Professors possess a unique set of skills that allow them to decode a work of literature, often identifying elements like intertextuality, biblical allusions, and archetypes.

How Do Professors Read Literature? Are There Any Special Skills?

The real reason professors read literature differently is that they're always seeking deeper layers of meaning. They apply a variety of lenses like 'it’s all political,' 'never just heart disease,' or 'gonna hurt you: concerning violence' to unveil hidden messages. They identify with characters who serve as a Christ figure, understand how 'geography matters,' and recognize when a 'trip is a quest.' For them, it's rarely just illness or old age; every aspect has deeper implications.

What Do You Need to Study Literature Like a Professor?

If you wish to engage with literary works like a professor, you'll need more than just a reading list. You'll need a working knowledge of English and the willingness to explore elements like Shakespearean motifs, "Hanseldee and Greteldum" references, and fairy tales. Also, you'll need to embrace flights of fancy and self-knowledge.

Different Types of Literature

From classical texts like 'The Odyssey' and 'Hamlet' to modern stories like 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'The Old Man and the Sea,' professors categorize literature into various types. They include epic poems, dramas, novels, and short stories. Understanding the different genres enables them to apply the 'such thing' concept, seeing how each work communicates through the lens of its type.

Ways to Read Literature Like a Professor

Understanding the 'Envoi' and the appendix is as important as identifying when 'it’s all about sex.' Professors use a technique called 'marked for greatness,' where they highlight significant moments in the text. They focus on how 'so does season' affects the mood, and understand the influence of 'winter' or 'fall' in the storyline.

Top 9 PDF Tools to Read and Annotate Like a Professor

Speechify PDF Reader

Cost: Free to try

Speechify's PDF reader brings the transformative power of text-to-speech technology directly to the realm of PDF documents. This tool allows users to listen to their PDFs rather than read them, ensuring that dense, text-heavy documents are more accessible and digestible. Among its top features are:

  1. High-Quality Voices: Converting PDF text into clear and lifelike audio, Speechify offers a range of natural-sounding voices for a genuine listening experience.
  2. Text Highlighting: As Speechify reads out the content, it highlights the corresponding text in the PDF, enabling users to follow along visually and reinforcing comprehension.
  3. Speed Control: Catering to individual preferences, listeners can adjust the reading speed, whether they need a quick overview or a deep understanding.
  4. Navigation Tools: Speechify's PDF reader allows users to effortlessly navigate through pages, jump to specific sections, and bookmark crucial parts for easy reference later on.
  5. Offline Access: Users can download and save PDFs within the app, facilitating offline listening and ensuring uninterrupted access to their documents, regardless of internet connectivity.
  6. AI Chat: Interact with Speechify’s AI bot in your PDF reader to ask important questions about your PDF.

Adobe Acrobat Reader

Cost: Free Basic Version; Acrobat Pro DC starts at $14.99/month

Adobe Acrobat Reader is the gold standard for PDF reading. Its versatile commenting tools make it ideal for jotting down thoughts about biblical allusions in Hemingway's works or noting the test case scenarios in 'The Garden Party.'

Top 5 Features

  1. Text Highlighting
  2. Commenting Tools
  3. Digital Signatures
  4. OCR Technology
  5. Mobile Support

Foxit Reader

Cost: Free

Foxit Reader is highly customizable and lightweight. It is perfect for those high school students who want to dive into the intricacies of Greek mythology like Persephone's story, or simply understand why 'nice to eat with you: acts of communion' matters in literature.

Top 5 Features

  1. Annotation
  2. Text-to-Speech
  3. Tabbed Viewing
  4. Collaborative Review
  5. Protected Mode

PDF-XChange Editor

Cost: Free Basic Version; Plus Version at $43.50

PDF-XChange Editor is one of the most feature-rich PDF editors available. Whether you're a student looking to engage in a deep reading of 'Alice in Wonderland' or a scholar examining the archetypes in 'The Odyssey,' PDF-XChange Editor’s advanced features offer a rewarding reading experience.

Top 5 Features

  1. Advanced Editing
  2. OCR Feature
  3. Text Extraction
  4. Extensive Markup Tools
  5. Integrated Translations

Sumatra PDF

Cost: Free

Sumatra PDF is an open-source and lightweight PDF reader ideal for those who prefer a minimalist interface. The quick launch feature means you can get straight to studying the 'real reason' behind Hamlet's actions or the role of 'god' in various works of literature.

Top 5 Features

  1. Lightweight
  2. Open Source
  3. Quick Launch
  4. Supports Various File Types
  5. Keyboard Shortcuts

Nitro PDF Reader

Cost: Free Basic Version; Pro Version starts at $159

Nitro PDF Reader provides not just reading capabilities but also enables the conversion of PDFs to other formats. It's a great tool for professors and students alike, especially when dealing with course materials that range from Shakespeare to modern authors like Hemingway.

Top 5 Features

  1. Conversion Tools
  2. Digital Signing
  3. Text Highlighting
  4. Built-in Collaboration
  5. Document Security

Soda PDF

Cost: Free Online Version; Desktop Version starts at $49/year

Soda PDF offers both an online and a downloadable version, catering to your reading needs whether you're exploring Shakespeare’s biblical allusions or understanding 'it's all political' in modern texts.

Top 5 Features

  1. E-Signing
  2. Cloud Integration
  3. Review and Annotate
  4. 3D View Mode
  5. Document Splitting and Merging

ABBYY FineReader

Cost: Standard Version at $199; Corporate Version at $299

ABBYY FineReader is an excellent tool for professionals who require advanced features like text comparison for analyzing literary works. Its OCR capabilities mean you can digitize any text for a closer examination.

Top 5 Features

  1. OCR Capabilities
  2. Text Comparison
  3. Batch Processing
  4. Multi-Language Support
  5. Audio Book Conversion


Cost: $5.99 (One-time purchase)

Designed for iOS, GoodReader is particularly useful for those who do their scholarly reading on an iPad. Its side-by-side document viewing can be invaluable when comparing 'Persephone' in Greek mythology with other similar archetypes.

Top 5 Features

  1. File Management
  2. Syncing Capabilities
  3. PDF Linking
  4. Text Lookup
  5. Side-by-Side Document Viewing

Preview (For Mac Users)

Cost: Free (Built into macOS)

For Mac users, Preview offers robust annotating tools, perfect for students or professors who are diving into the world of 'winter' and 'fall' as more than just seasons but as symbols in literature.

Top 5 Features

  1. Annotating Tools
  2. Integrated in macOS
  3. Quick Look Preview
  4. Image Editing
  5. Signature Integration

The Road to Reading Like a Professor

Learning how to read literature like a professor is not just about acquiring tools or memorizing historical contexts; it's about developing a new lens through which to view the world. As Thomas C. Foster emphasizes, understanding the layers beneath the surface—the 'nice to eat you: acts of vampires,' the 'gonna hurt you: concerning violence,' and even the 'such thing' concept—can provide fresh perspectives on even the most familiar stories.

Equipped with these insights and the right PDF tools, your journey from reading for plot to reading for understanding can truly begin. Whether you're a high school student or an avid reader, the tips and tools discussed here are your ticket to a deeper, richer, and more meaningful engagement with literature.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.