24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining but thin in parts,
This review is from: How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide (Paperback)
I eagerly pre-ordered this having seen it puffed in the national press, and read it in a day or so. I'd hoped it would give me a new perspective on the wide variety of novels (from Tolstoy and Austen to Sophie Kinsella) that I read, and some insights that I, as a science graduate, haven't gained from my education.
It was an enjoyable read and I liked Sutherland's illustration of his points with examples from a wide range of literature. I gained some useful insights and tips - such as the 'read page 69' test for bookshop browsers, and the need to consider the various timings of a novel's conception, writing, publication and setting. However, some of the content, such as the discussion of the economics of publishing and bookshops, was thin; perhaps because this is not Sutherland's real expertise. He's an academic and critic, not a publisher or bookseller, and it shows. Even the 'literary' content was diluted and too populist, I felt. I had read the vast majority of the books he name-checked and would have liked more pointers to lesser-known works.
It was a worthwhile read, but he could have assumed rather more knowledge and intelligence in his audience, and delivered a more satisfying book.