Read literature like a professor – Literature picks for October

It’s time for a little erudition! Add richness to your reading with three of this month’s selections – How to read literature like a professor, Reading poetry and How to be well-read. We also have a handful of instructional manuals for writers, a book of essays on female friendship, and seeing 2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War what could be more fitting than that we include a book of war poetry spanning the last hundred years?
‘Downton Abbey’ has returned to our screens once more, so this month’s light relief takes the form of the delightful little book Downton Tabby. You will be surprised at how closely these moggies resemble their actor counterparts!

Syndetics book coverThe ancient Greek hero in 24 hours / Gregory Nagy.
“The ancient Greeks’ concept of the hero was very different from what we understand by the term today, Gregory Nagy argues – and it is only through analyzing their historical contexts that we can truly understand Achilles, Odysseus, Oedipus, and Herakles. In Greek tradition, a hero was a human, male or female, of the remote past, who was endowed with superhuman abilities by virtue of being descended from an immortal god. Despite their mortality, heroes, like the gods, were objects of cult worship. Nagy examines this distinctively religious notion of the hero in its many dimensions.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHelp! for writers : 210 solutions to the problems every writer faces / Roy Peter Clark.
“The craft of writing offers countless potential problems. The story is too long. The story’s too short. Revising presents a huge hurdle. Writer’s block is rearing its ugly head. In Help! For Writers, Roy Peter Clark presents an “owner’s manual” for writers, outlining the seven steps of the writing process and addressing the 21 most urgent problems that writers face. In his trademark engaging and entertaining style, Clark offers ten short solutions to each problem.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJust between us : Australian writers tell the truth about female friendship / foreword by Helen Garner ; edited by Maya Linden, Miriam Sved, Maggie Scott, Natalie Kon-yu and Christie Nieman.
“Empathetic, supportive and respectful… Or competitive, manipulative and downright bitchy? Or somewhere in between? In Just Between Us, a host of Australia’s best-loved female writers bare all on this age-old quandary: Are female friendships all-natural and nurturing? Or are some more damaging than delightful?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRoget’s thesaurus of words for writers : over 2,300 emotive, evocative, descriptive synonyms, antonyms, and related terms every writer should know / David Olsen, Michelle Bevilacqua, Justin Cord Hayes, and Robert Bly.
“The ultimate tool for writers! Whether you’re crafting the next great American novel or pounding away at a last-minute blog entry, there will come a time in the process when you struggle to find just the perfect word or phrase. Under the time-tested banner of Roget’s Thesaurus, this collection will quickly become the most essential tool on your desk when you’re working on your next piece.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hundred years’ war : modern war poems / edited by Neil Astley.
“This anthology presents poems from a hundred years of war by poets writing as combatants on opposite sides, as victims, or anguished witnesses. Editor Neil Astley has created this deeply moving testament to humanity caught up in a hundred years of war.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to be well read : a guide to 500 great novels and a handful of literary curiosities / John Sutherland.
“As the annual flow of novels grows ever greater, it’s a hard job to keep up, let alone sort the wheat from the chaff. Fortunately John Sutherland is on hand to do precisely that for you, and in 500 wittily informative essays he introduces you to the very best of the world’s fiction.” (Wellington City Libraries catalogue note)

Syndetics book coverThe digested 21st century / John Crace.
“John Crace’s Digested Read first appeared in in February 2000 and has been running ever since. Each week Crace reduces a new book – anything from a Booker Prize winner to a Nigella cookery book is fair game – to 700 words in a parody of the plot, style, dialogue and themes. Or lack of them. The Digested Read has not just become an institution for readers; it is read and enjoyed by publishers and authors too. So long as it is not their book being digested.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverReading poetry / Peter Barry.
“Witty, direct and articulate, Peter Barry illustrates the key elements of poetry at work, covering many different kinds of verse, from traditional forms to innovative versions of the art, such as ‘concrete’ poetry, minimalism and word-free poems. The emphasis is on meanings rather than words, looking beyond technical devices like alliteration and assonance so that poems are understood as dynamic structures creating specific ends and effects.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to read literature like a professor : a lively and entertaining guide to reading between the lines / Thomas C. Foster.
“A thoroughly revised and updated edition of Thomas C. Foster’s classic guide–a lively and entertaining introduction to literature and literary basics, including symbols, themes, and contexts–that shows you how to make your everyday reading experience more rewarding and enjoyable. While many books can be enjoyed for their basic stories, there are often deeper literary meanings interwoven in these texts.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDownton Tabby : a parody / Chris Kelly.
“Welcome to Downton Tabby. Here, the aristocrats of the animal kingdom dwell in stately splendor, sleeping, grooming, sleeping some more, and being fed by their downstairs cats, unaware that their way of life – providing work for others – is about to be swept away by the tides of history… and runaway cars. The fur will fly. This humorous parody provides essential information for preserving their Golden Age, including How to Keep a Secret at Downton Tabby, How to Argue with Lord Grimalkin About His Most Deeply Held Beliefs, and some Uninvited but Necessary Words from the Dowager.” (Syndetics summary)