Author(s): John Sutherland
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.
John Sutherland is Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London and a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology. He has published twenty books and writes a weekly column for the Guardian. He was chairman of the 2005 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.