Read The Art of Reading (Great Courses, #2198) by Timothy Spurgin Online


This is a twenty-four lecture series in DVD format, each lecture being 30 minutes in duration. The DVD's are accompanied by a course guidebook with lecture outlines, suggested readings, and extensive bibliography....

Title : The Art of Reading (Great Courses, #2198)
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 7118680
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 404 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Art of Reading (Great Courses, #2198) Reviews

  • Jason Koivu
    2018-12-16 19:03

    Like particular deodorants, this is strong enough for a writer, but made for a reader.I don't usually add these "Great Courses" by the Teaching Company to my list of books read. For one, they're audiobooks and secondly, they're not actually books. They're recorded lectures given by college/university professors. But they're darn informative, and this one in particular applies to what we all do here, which is to (view spoiler)[read (hide spoiler)]. Bet you didn't see that one coming, but it's true! Unless you're an author here to spam Goodreads' users with unsolicited requests to read your book or if you're a woman from Ghana with poor English skills trying to solicit dates, you are here to read and talk about what you've read. So as a bookworm, wouldn't you like to become a more savvy reader? Of course you would! Get The Art of Reading. By dissecting classic literature, amazing short stories, and the occasional turd, it shows you how to read closer, what you can get out of a closer reading and how to squeeze as much insight and joy from whatever books you choose to delve into. If you are one of those spamming authors or African jezebels, you too might get a little out of The Art of Reading, because much of its subject matter is about what goes into the making of good writing. Read between the lines and perhaps it will help your lines to be more widely read.

  • Michael
    2018-12-13 20:03

    I finished Part I last night. Besides the excellent material, I think it's terrific that this course includes a transcription of the lecture in addition to the DVD. So you can read the lecture instead of watching it -- a definite plus as my DVD watching time is limited. Also, the course book is great for future reference. If you're interested in getting more out of your reading experience, then you've come to the right place. These lectures are filled with a rich toolkit to enrich your reading. I especially liked how he turned some of the questions into a game you can play with others, e.g., What master plot does the story follow? Can I tell from pre-reading or reading only a few paragraphs what the book is going to be about? I wish I had come across these tools during high school, and I look forward to Part II.Here are some of the tools in the reading toolbox (from the Part II coursebook):-pre-reading: Eyeball the entire work to get a sense of its larger design. How is the work divided? How many parts are there? Are the parts marked in any way (numbered or titled)? Is the arrangement of parts symmetrical?-the 50-page test, i.e., read about 50 pages or so and then decide whether to keep on reading. Oftentimes the success of the book depends on the reader more than the writer.-look for the destabilizing event. What knocks the characters off balance?-Play the master plot game: Stranger comes to town? Or hero takes a journey (should be a literal journey)?-Book clubs: beyond venturing opinions, work on generating great questions; questions that show a willingness to learn from others (such as open-ended questions). How are we supposed to feel about this character? What is going on in this passage? Were you surprised by the ending? -Another game: describe the same thing (e.g., feeding the dog or washing the car) using three different writing styles. Write a new version but this time bring the subtext to the surface. (Screenwriter game) Imagine you've been hired to turn this book into a movie. What would you do? -Stop one third of the way through and take stock, formulate questions, and make predictions. A) Think about the characters. What do they want? What do they want to want? What kind of trouble are they getting into? And how much of it is their own fault? What would it take to make them happy, and are they likely to get it? B) Think about the plot. Which events -- besides the destabilizer -- are the most important? What else has to happen before the story can be resolved? What events are you dreading and why? C) Take time to reread the first chapter (or first 10 pages). Do these pages seem different this time? How do they anticipate or foreshadow later events? How do they help to introduce important themes?-Close reading. Looking at a passage and thinking about the language. Why these words and not others? What would happen if we changed the words or arranged them differently? What if this sentence were cut in two? What if these sentences were combined? [the "What if" game:]--Finally, what are the benefits of artful reading? 1. You're sensitized to language and more alert of the use of words, which feeds back into your own writing.2. You're forced to confront yourself.3. You're helped to accept yourself in all your ambiguities, irony, and complexity.

  • Benjamin Thomas
    2018-11-19 23:27

    I always enjoy listening to people talk about books or reading or just about any combination. I also enjoy just about anything produced by “The Learning Company” and this was no exception. Professor Timothy Spurgin brings great credentials, a smooth and articulate speaking voice, and a real enthusiasm for reading great literature. His goal is to introduce us to the concept of reading literary works as an art form in itself, and not just as a cover-to-cover exercise.The lecture series is broken down into two parts. We start with the basics of structure, summary, plot, characters, dialog, etc., establishing the building blocks for the second half of the course. I don’t think I really learned too much here. It was a lot like what you might hear in a high school AP English course. The idea of pre-reading is emphasized as a way to prepare yourself for what you are about to encounter. Similarly, the concept of re-reading is presented not as an option but more as a necessity to truly appreciate great fiction.The second half of the lecture series delved into more esoteric themes and spent a lot of time on case studies including entire lectures on specific books such as The Age of Innocence, War and Peace, etc., always with the end goal in mind, that of assisting us to develop habits in gaining more enlightenment and not be intimidated when we read such works.My only negative comment about these lectures is there is a little bit of “looking down our nose” at “lesser literature”. I had absolutely no problem when Professor Spurgin used Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code as a way to illustrate poor dialogue. He is spot on in his analysis. But by putting down that book, there is an unmistakable branding of all popular and even genre fiction as simply not worth our time. It’s as if there is no “art” associated with reading what I choose to read approximately 95 percent of the time. When he does choose one “genre” book to delve into, it is HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds and even then, while he praises its merits, he implies its quality is an exception to genre fiction.All in all this was fun to listen to and served to reinforce my own theories.

  • BookSweetie
    2018-12-13 23:03

    There are twenty-four 30 minute lectures in this Great Courses (with great professors) class that aim to help enrich the reading of literary fiction. They do. I really enjoyed this particular non-flashy series that fills in some gaps that I imagine a college literature foundation class or literary criticism introductory course may have provided, although since I was not an English major that is just a guess. I chose not to listen on CDs, but to watch the DVD. The subject actually lends itself to the auditory only option -- primarily because the professor is amazingly articulate and fluent with excellent voice quality and diction, with no filler ums and ahs and you knows, so little would be lost if someone chose the CD option over the DVD one that has a few summary lists, author pictures, and book titles with dates of publication. In addition to being a gifted speaker, the professor also does a bang up job of being organized and coherent, recycling past concepts and information naturally into relevant places in later lectures. The focus is upon helping to enrich the reading experience by providing skills and tools that are then applied for practice to various literary works of increasing length. So, this class needs to be evaluated with its specific purpose in mind, so that means asking: will my reading experiences be enriched as an outcome of this class? Without hesitation, I will answer YES. A bonus is the occasional reference to ideas to enhance book group experiences.

  • Murzic
    2018-11-23 22:05

    Checklist of Artful Reader Toolbox- pre-reading: how much pages, how book divided into chapters, cover, title, etc.- 50-page test: give book the benefit of a doubt for first 50 (more like 10-20% for me) pages- destabilizing event: event that sets plot in motion- master plots: Hero Takes A Journey or Stranger Comes To Town- scene (dialog) vs summary (exposition)- plot (delivery) vs story (set of events that happen in chronological order)- free indirect discourse: characters' thoughts, feelings, and words are expressed through the third-person narrator (character's voice partly mediated by the voice of the author / character speaks through the voice of the narrator)- take stop (around 1/3 of the book) and make predictions, think about characters, their motives and possible ways that story might develop- reread first chapter or first few pages: how they feel this time?- close reading: why this words and why in such order?- matafiction (fiction about fiction) and metafictional elements- flat (predictable) vs round (complex) characters and flat pretending to be round (they surprise but do not convince us)- subtexts, motives and secrets:"If the scene is about what the scene is about, you're in deep shit." Robert McKee

  • Tiffany
    2018-12-06 02:00

    This course really surprised me--before starting it I used to think I was a good reader. Now I know better. Reading a lot doesn't necessarily mean reading meritoriously. Not only did I learn new language for understanding my instinctive attractions and aversions I learned techniques for having a better reading experience. What was highly reassuring is that most readers do not necessarily walk away with greater insight than I do (helas, my deepest insecurity as a reader.) Up to the present I have had a tendency to be conservative in my forays in great literature because I want to understand absolutely everything I read--in the past I've hesitated with some books because I didn't think I could do them justice i.e. Moby Dick or Ulysses. Yes, I am anal--I read even the tiniest footnote. I only buy Shakespeare plays in Signet Classics editions because textual explanations are printed on the same page as the text which saves hours of flipping back and forth to the appendices. I loathe NOT KNOWING STUFF. But now I feel emboldened to try some of these classics afresh. I desire to be a fearless reader. Thanks, Mr. Spurgin.

  • André Gomes
    2018-12-04 22:18

    For those who like to read fiction this is treasury! You will never look at books the same way you did before. ;)This course helped me to see many aspects of a fiction story that once were hidden to me.

  • Jack Hansen
    2018-12-03 23:23

    I listen to these lectures mainly from my car while driving. Because of this, I miss some of the important lessons The Art of Reading offers. Timothy Spurgin uses many classics to point out examples of his lesson for each chapter. Content and structure are not the only discussions. Why we read what we read and how we treat the written word is also a subject upon which the author touches. Tools for approaching the varieties of books, journals, magazines, and papers can assist us to get through what seems tedious at first. I enjoy the description of style in certain pieces of literature and understand, now, why an author writes the way he or she does. I appreciate the necessary rules for plot to maintain the integrity of a story. Finally, the difficulty of adapting a book to a movie explains why so many movies fail to deliver the true essence and tone that a book shares. To capture a book's intent on film is truly an art form. The purpose of this course is to educate us about reading so it can be more enjoyable. Even though the lectures can be a bit stuffy at times, I believe this course succeeds in achieving that purpose.

  • David Johnson
    2018-11-27 20:06

    Lecture 20 on Evaluating Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited was exceptional for its nuance on the themes of conversion and friendship, the positive and negative detail particularly when comparing to Waugh's earlier comic novels. Waugh made a methodology change like Dylan in '65 and the reaction from fans was similar. Both enlarged their audience and alienated original followers. The other 23 lectures I found pedestrian by comparison with material padded out to fill the time. More examples ---bad as well as good -should have been introduced for each topic. Using Conan Doyle was too high school. The Teaching Company should apply grade level ratings to each offering such as: lower division, upper division and graduate. The term "Introduction" in the title of some of their courses is a good indicator. If you have familiarity with the subject matter, skip the introductory titled courses or use only as a brushoff on the subject.

  • Nathan Albright
    2018-12-07 03:10

    As someone who is fond of the Great Courses collection [1], this audiobook was quite a striking one.  Those people who saw me with this audiobook pondered why someone who reads as much as I do would want to read a book on the art of reading.  Obviously, I know how to read, and read well.  What does someone who reads and reads well get out of a book like this?  Well, this book is all about artful reading, the sort of reading one can do in a rewarding fashion for classic literature.  The instructor shows that he is not a snob in praising good genre fiction (like the Sherlock Holmes detective stories) as well as in his last lecture when he tries to clear up any misunderstandings the listener of this course will have, but the general assumption of the professor is that one engages in extractive reading when one reads nonfiction but can use artful reading to make the reading of literature more enjoyable in a complex fashion.  The instructor appears ignorant, though, of the fact that there is a considerable variation among nonfiction, where some nonfiction, very good nonfiction, can be read in a very artful fashion with profitability, but where other nonfiction is not profitable to read artfully at all.  The author's own reading appears to have avoided the more artful types of nonfiction reading, though, unfortunately.That said, one of the most impressive aspects of this particular course is the way it is structured and paced.  Overall there are twenty four lectures over twelve discs, and each of the lectures itself has a clear flow and structure that follows a strong focus on beginning, middle, and end.  That said, there is also a clear focus on a good structure overall for the class as well.  The instructor begins by comparing artful reading and everyday reading, then moves into questions of the real and implied author as well as the narrators, and then goes on to discuss characters and their dimensions and descriptions of people, places, and things.  Then different kinds of writing are explored, from minimalists to maximalists to lyricists, before the author discusses irony and ambiguity and plots.  The discussion of plots involves the three act structure of a story as well as master plots (namely the stranger and the journey) and the importance of plots to mysteries (specifically the Sherlock Holmes stories), the thickening of the plot in Scott and Bronte and the vanishing of plot in Faulkner and Woolf.  After this the professor moves on to areas of chapters, patterns, and rhythms, to scene and summary, and to close reading in order to gain an understanding of subtexts, motives, and secrets.  The instructor then discusses dialogue, metafiction, and adaptation in an attempt to understand what makes fiction and fiction about fiction so important, and what makes books better than film adaptations.  The instructor's comments on four types of realism courtesy of C.S. Lewis' literary criticism and expansions from that follows, and then the instructor moves into the home stretch by talking about interpretation and evaluation before giving a case study in three lectures on a long short story ("Runaway"), a classic novel ("The Age of Innocence") and a massive novel ("War And Peace") before ending with an encouragement to readers to use tools like pre-reading, close reading, and various outlining schemes to become better readers.What benefit does someone get out of this course if they already read at an expert level?  Many of the techniques utilized by the instructor and encouraged for listeners are techniques that will either be known implicitly by intuitive readers used to close reading or those who read and review books on a regular basis.  Nevertheless, even where this information is implicitly known, there can be a benefit in viewing matters explicitly as well, and putting one's reading techniques under close scrutiny, to know what one knows and to openly acknowledge it and reflect on it.  Also, this book is good at providing varied case studies for excellent literature to read.  It has certainly encouraged me to read a few books I would not have made a very high priority among literary fiction, particularly the choices for metafiction and some of the modernist or contemporary fiction I do not tend to pay close attention to.  The professor is a big fan of Jane Austen, and Persuasion and Sense & Sensibility appear a few times in this book to the general pleasure of the student who happens to be as fond of her writing as I am.  So, if you are a fan of the "Great Books" and want to know if you rank as an elite reader or want to know what sort of techniques you may be using without even knowing it, this is a good course to take, and at twelve hours it does not present a great burden upon the listener while providing a great deal of enjoyment in listening to a discussion on good books.[1] See, for example:

  • John
    2018-11-26 03:03

    Not to be too condescending--but this is more "The Basics of Analytical Reading" rather than an "Art of". The course has some great selections and excerpts, but ultimately it doesn't add much to someone who is an avid reader and purposefully attempts diverse selections.

  • Clícia
    2018-12-20 00:02


  • Christine
    2018-11-29 23:14

    I love The Great Courses and this one was no exception. The author approaches the subject in an accessible and captivating manner. If you like to read, you will learn some pretty interesting things about reading in general and what certain terms really mean.High recommended.

  • Helen
    2018-12-06 18:59

    For all of us without a degree in English Literature, this is a welcome book to read! The author has a warm,congenial style of speaking on the CD's. He covers all areas of reading fiction short stories and novels! He discusses pre-reading, plot, characterization, dialogue, scene, summary, chapters, metafiction, and long novels! I learned so much, that I can apply to all fiction I read in the future!

  • Julie
    2018-11-19 02:11

    Face it. We are here on Goodreads because we love to read. Given that I spend much of my free time (as well as much of my not so free time) reading or listening to books, I selected this lecture series from The Teaching Company hoping to pick up some tips on how to better understand stories. This course amazed me. In 24 lectures, Professor Timothy Spurgin presents different tools on how to read more deeply and analyze stories. From setting, characters, plot, chapter organization, conclusions and more, this book provides insight on how books are written and can be better analyzed and appreciated. Although, this might sound a bit dry, Professor Spurgin is energetic and inserts humor and excitement into his lectures. He provides many different examples of short stories and novel excerpts and discusses them with such enthusiasm that I felt like reading all of them. If he ever tires of being an inspiring teacher, he should consider a job in a book store - he could sell any title. I found that the few examples he selected that I really disliked (Coetzee's novel Disgrace is one) were described in such a compelling manner that I want to reread them, using my newly discovered tool set and see if my opinion changes. If you love to read, or want to read more deeply, or even want to write, you will learn something from this course. Highly recommended!!

  • Kiri
    2018-12-13 22:23

    I throughly enjoyed this course on the art of reading. It doubles well as a basic course on good writing, actually -- it doesn't instruct you on how to write, but it highlights what works and what doesn't, from the reader's perspective, with obvious application. The main lesson of this course is about the value of close reading. Careful consideration of what the author has done and speculating about why can teach you a lot about how good stories are built. In fact, the course might easily be titled "Writing Appreciation"; you learn to notice details you might not otherwise. This is the "how things work" of writing (and reading).The course covers characters, dialogue, point of view, and plot, which are all elements of writing that many will be familiar with. It also strikes out into less common territory, like how authors make choices about dividing their work into chapters and even more obscure topics like meta-fiction. It has certainly inspired a lot of interesting reflection on my part on questions such as "Why *do* we read?" and it has pointed me to other interesting and valuable books like C. S. Lewis's An Experiment in Criticism.

  • Bruce
    2018-12-02 01:00

    Yesterday I finished Timothy Spurgin’s Teaching Company course on “The Art of Reading,” having enjoyed it immensely. It is a DVD format course with 24 30-minute lectures; it complemented Brooks Landon’s course on “Building Great Sentences” wonderfully and was one of a handful of “best courses” I’ve had out of the more than seventy Teaching Company courses I’ve taken. During the last two years, since I’ve been posting reviews on, I’ve wanted a set of guidelines for reading and have tried, not particularly satisfactorily, to construct my own from scratch. Sprugin has enabled me to do that in a way that will prove most helpful in my reading. His lectures were delightful, very well-organized and delivered in a conversational style that I found pleasant. He provided an excellent list of supplementary readings of which I read many, finding them useful in amplifying the points he was making. I am so glad that I took this course.

  • M0rningstar
    2018-11-26 21:06

    These lectures were too long for what they were. They did introduce some concepts that were new to me, but overall they were slow and shallow, not differing much from high school material. For example, an entire lecture was spent on the difference between dialogue and non-dialogue (summary is the term used in the course.) In contrast, subtext, a comparatively knotty subject, was allotted far less time, its section concluding with the suggestion to make an exercise of imagining a book as if it were written with subtext made explicit, all without explaining how to actually extract the subtext from the plain text. The lethargic pace was further exacerbated by the lecturer's deliberate delivery, the frequent use of conversational fillers (e.g. "well, that's what *I* think", "let's play a game", etc), and an exaggerated emphasis at the end of every. Other. Sentence. Like. This.

  • Jessica
    2018-12-13 01:24

    I expected a lot from this series of lectures: inspiration to read (even) more, freshening up my college knowledge, learning new things and the opportunity to do all that whilst commuting by bus looking like the serious young business woman I am. Unfortunately, the narrator is so enthusiastic and driven that a serious listening attitude was not always applicable and at times I found myself unexpectedly giggling at best, squeaking loudly with delight at worst. How I would have loved to be in this professor's class room!The lectures are well organized and clear, the narrator keeps a nice pace and is very easy to understand. Additionally, through these lectures I have discovered some intriguing new titles to try my new found expert reading skills on.

  • Robert Hernandez
    2018-12-17 21:14

    I love reading and I thought I knew how to read, but I confess I had a serious problem: my reading was mostly restricted to science, theology and philosophy or other informative, non-fiction reading. To do otherwise gave the feeling it was kind of a waste of time. I knew something needed to change, badly, but with no idea why or in what direction to go. Profr. Spurgin's lectures solved that problem, in a beautiful and simple manner put me on the right track. A great investment of my time. Thanks, Profr. Spurgin!

  • Bill Glover
    2018-12-02 01:01

    I have the feeling quite often that I may have missed some simple part of what I'm suppose to know, like something perhaps even below high school level. After all, how many of us paid any attention to school. So, after reading hundreds of books I decided to find out if I'm doing it right.This course is a good once over for reading novels; the A-B-Cs of how you can begin to divide up what you are taking in. Not sure I got anything particularly new from it, but it's a good overview.

  • Anna
    2018-11-27 20:08

    This is a very accessible course introducing some useful ways to think about the book in front of your nose. As bound to happen with such courses, there were some suggestions I found blatantly obvious, and some lectures dealt with topics that I am not (currently) interested. However, the author still provided several useful tools that will help me both in unlocking books I previously found inaccessible and in approaching my own writing projects.The audio version was well-paced and engaging.

  • Ben
    2018-12-19 23:00

    I'm actually listening to the CDs in my car. It is a great course on developing close-reading or critical-reading skills for fiction reading. It is very beginer-friendly and uses famous works of literature to illustrate its points. The lectures are about 30 minutes a piece, which is perfect for my commute. I borrowed this from the library and plan to get other courses from the lecture series this way.

  • Jen
    2018-12-17 21:59

    Listening to these CD's is like auditing a 200 level course given by a popular lecturer in a huge university auditorium. I enjoyed listening but it wasn't life changing. I learned that I would probably get more out of my books if I engaged in pre-reading. Even though the lecturer talks. like. this, it sure beats Kids Bop Halloween for car tunes.

  • Keith
    2018-11-26 01:16

    I ordered these dvds after some research on the web about this series. I needed something to stimulate my appetite for reading again. Since the beginning of October I just haven't had the desire to sit down with my Kindle and read. So, I thought these dvds could give me that proverbial kick-in-the-ass that I need to start me reading again.

  • Angela
    2018-12-08 22:27

    Found a link to the guidebook for this course which is an excellent resource for ways to think about reading and talking about books:

  • Sharron
    2018-12-01 20:10

    I wasn't sure at the outset that this would be worth my time but it absolutely was. The lecturer is informative and enthusiastic and the books he chooses to illustrate his points are readily accessible, familiar titles.

  • Karen Klein
    2018-12-17 00:03

    Love these DVD boyfriend and I are hooked on them! Now I get to study English Literature, History - all the stuff that I would have taken in college, had I gone :) They really are awesome!

  • Petrea
    2018-12-13 01:00

    Wonderful course--I enjoy this professor and, of course, love the topic. I learned a lot of things to make me a better reader

  • Brian
    2018-11-24 23:03

    This is a good elementary book, but I don't recommend it for a long time reader.