My analysis of literature: the good, the bad and the ugly

The Blue Bookcase posed an interesting question to its readers this hop: To what extent do you analyze literature? Are you more analytical in your reading if you know you're going to review the book? Is analysis useful in helping you understand and appreciate literature, or does it detract from your readerly experience?

To what extent do I analyse literature? I feel a little bit awkward about answering this question because I think that it highlights my biggest weakness as a blogger.

That's right. I am going to admit to you what I see my biggest failing as a blogger is.

First, I am going to answer the final two questions.

Am I more analytical in my reading if I know I am going to read the book?

Yes. The reason I started Page Turners in 2009 was because I was ploughing through books at the rate of knots and not giving them any consideration once I was finished with them. I started to long for the times in high school English class when the books I read were so much more fulfilling to me as a reader because I studied them; looking into their construction and plots and characters in so much more detail. Having analysed the book in that way made the book so much more enjoyable to me.

So I started Page Turners to try and find some of magic again. Since then, I definitely read books differently. I mark passages that capture my attention. I think more about the characters, plot and writing in the book and consider what the author was trying to achieve and whether they did. Knowing that I am going to review the book means that I pay attention to the finer detail because it is often those details that really add to a review.

Is analysis useful in helping you understand and appreciate literature, or does it detract from your readerly experience?

As said above, it is useful in helping me understand and appreciate literature. By analysing it as I read, I can more fully understand the story, the characters and the author's intentions. I find little details that I otherwise might not notice and I can attribute meaning to why those details are there.

It means that when I recommend a book to people, or just talk books with people, I am more able to engage in a meaningful discussion.

It doesn't detract from my readerly experience, but I think that this might be something more to do with my analytical abilities than anything else.

To what extent do you analyse literature?

And that brings me to my weakness. Although I analyse literature, it is only the extent that my abilities allow me too. Sometimes, I wish that those abilities were more developed than they are.

I have no system in how I analyse books. I have nothing specific that I am looking for, no plan of action or method. I just read the book and take mental notes of the things that grab me.

Is this even analysis? I don't know.

I try very hard to think about the content of books (the themes, the language etc) and then express my thoughts in my review. Often though, I am not all that satisfied with the outcome. I read so many exceptional blogs where the blogger really gets into the heart of the book and can express themselves so effectively. When I compare those reviews to my own, I feel as though I am lacking. I've never studied anything remotely English related since I left high school (I did a law degree…. say no more) so I don't feel as though I really know how to identify some of those aspects of a book I would like to be analysing. I also feel as though I lack the vocabulary and the writing ability to express my thoughts as well as I would like.

If I was more skilled at analysing literature, I wonder if it might detract from the reading experience. I wouldn't like to be someone that is constantly taking notes as they go etc, I just want to read.

So there, you have it folks. I don't even know if what I do counts as analysis but if it does, I certainly wish I was better at it. I know that over the last 2.5 years my reviews have definitely improved so perhaps I am on the way to gaining more understanding of how to really analyse and appreciate literature.

What about you? Are you satisfied with your analysis?
What do you even consider literary analysis to be in a blogging context?

I just wanted to add that after reading everyone else's response, I am more than ever questioning whether what I do is really proper analysis. I think I focus more on myself as the reader - my response to the book, why I felt like that and what the author did that made me feel like that. I wonder if that's analysis or not?


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