Ways of Reading: Advanced Reading Skills for Students of English Literature by Martin Montgomery, et al

Rated: Two stars

Publisher: Routledge

Published: December 5th 2012

Edition: 4th (first published July 23rd 1992)

My two stars rating is especially unfortunate as I was eager to delve into what promised to be some good learning. Alas, it did seem I had my hopes up. Ways of Reading was on my required reading for a college course four years ago, I almost forgot about it until I repacked the bookshelf.

I’m working to improve my writing with my refocus on my blogs and I figured better reading made for better writing. I’m primarily a pleasure reader, and while general comprehension and critical reading skills have sharpened over time I wasn’t fully prepared for the likes of ShakespeareThe Odyssey and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

My initial flip-through revealed significant chunks of text but I was somewhat reassured by the clear arrangement of sections and units that outlined specific topics I’d been struggling with like metaphors and intended meanings. This was looking good.

Yeah, well, it turns out I was right to be intimidated because I can’t … I was thirteen pages in and many places I couldn’t read more than two sentences without stopping to reread and make sense what it’s trying to tell me.

The writing, while not totally incomprehensible, is prominently ambiguous.

” … A more useful metaphor for thinking about how metaphors features in different kinds of language use is to imagine a spectrum of language types, ranging from discourses that consist mostly of literal usages and dead metaphors through to discourses that are highly conscious and innovative in their use of metaphor.”

Do you see? I’m not sure it’s a sound idea to use a metaphor to describe a metaphor. I just don’t get what I’m supposed to get.

Those chubby chunks came to haunt my ass, if I were to persevere at this time I’d have a permanent migraine. Now imagine the above excerpt but in a thirteen-line paragraph, after which follows another one just like it. It’s all too easy to have the lines mixed up and blending into one another.

In conclusion
I understand that the authors genuinely had the aim of improving our approaches to reading, I do, but I was left flapping my arms in abject disappointment. In an attempt to be fair I’ll repeat I only got to thirteen pages, read linearly and probably three more in between.

That said, I maintain that this tome would benefit from better editing and an intensive rehabilitation of the layout that simply isn’t conducive to focus and ultimately, learning.

Perhaps other readers had a better time at it than I have. I would only recommend this to the saint-like, you’ll need the patience and dedication to make it through.

Cross-posted from Goodreads | A Dragon In Progress

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