Literature can fill your heart and soul with wondrous imaginings and take you to places you never even dreamed of. It can make you laugh and cry. It can also drag you down, word by endless word into an abyss of what the HECK is this?!

It’s all in the understanding.

Literature is NOT the kind of writing that you should preview or read the chapter headings, beginning and end first. But you can set yourself up for success by following these reading guidelines below:


As you begin reading literature, remember…

  • Read the introduction.
  • Read a review of the book.
  • Read for longer stretches of time. Sometimes a book doesn’t begin to get interesting for 50 or even 100 pages; so, don’t give up in despair after 15 minutes. You need to get into the flow.
  • Discuss it with a classmate.
  • Underline significant or beautiful passages; note themes and recurrent .
  • If you really have to, look at the Cliff Notes – but DON’T depend on them. If you rely on summaries on the internet, you can’t be sure if they are accurate.
  • You may hate the book despite your best efforts. A certain college student who shall remain nameless threw Moby Dick across the room and broke the spine in frustration. She did manage to read it in the end, but she sure never liked it!
  • Have a dictionary on hand or use to look up unfamiliar words.
  • Remember, the more you read, the better you write, which will put you in a good place in ALL of your classes.


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