How to Zoom with an Author Like a Professor

New York Times Best-seller, Tom Foster, Visits Senior English Classes


Author Tom Foster spoke to the senior English classes during the activity period on Mar. 4. He spoke about some of the books he has written and how they apply to the world today.

Molly Fried, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The senior class had the privilege of having author Tom Foster address them on Mar. 4 regarding his works and their significance beyond the pages. 

An English professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, Foster has written many books with the purpose of guiding students to read and interpret literature, non-fiction, poetry, etc. with a critical eye. His works include How to Read Literature Like a Professor, How to Read Poetry Like a Professor, and Reading the Silver Screen: A Film Lover’s Guide to Decoding the Art Form That Moves, the latter of these serving as a key text for the Film Analysis elective offered by the Benjamin English department. In his talk, Foster detailed the benefits of literature and how it can help decode the current world. 

Focusing much of the discussion on his latest book How to Read Nonfiction Like a Professor, Foster cited inspiration from all of the books about Donald Trump in 2018. “It went from the truly terrible with Michael Wolf’s Fire and Fury to James Comey’s book A Higher Loyalty and then to Bob Woodward’s Rage,” Mr. Foster said. “They were all diametrically opposed in terms of journalistic efforts and journalistic integrity and rigor.” By analyzing how the three books were written, he had a basis for his own book and how to guide the average reader into understanding the modern political climate. 

“I thought his comments regarding nonfiction and being aware while reading were interesting,” senior Danai Makoni commented. “It did make me think a bit more about the impacts of social media usage and reminded me of the Netflix film The Social Dilemma.”

English teacher Mr. Feyk also found Foster’s discernment of the media to be insightful.

“I was struck by his observation about social media. We all have been critical and upset by the tone an fallacy of social media posts, but Mr. Foster took us deeper by reminding us that social media is for profit, and that its success is determined by the number of eyes the site or post attracts, as those numbers translate into advertising dollars for the company,” Mr. Feyk said. “It was sobering to realize that fake news, rants, and deformation are better for business than truth. As the writer Alan Sorkin said, ‘everyone has a voice; not everyone should have the mike: that is what the internet and social media do.’”

Recognizing the use of analytical thought beyond the classroom, Foster hopes students will “use [my books] by eventually forgetting it and incorporating whatever lessons they need from it into their day-to-day life.” He continued, saying, “When students can get to the point where they can simply say ‘how do I think about this’ but they can think about it in the kind of depth I’ve suggested is available, that’s my goal.”

Mr. Feyk especially found that part of Foster’s speech to be beneficial, saying “It was nice to hear that the author had the same goals in writing that we as teachers do in teaching. He basically said that he wants his readers to process the information about how to read literature and nonfiction, so that they can then think for themselves.”

Regarding the overall experience, Mr. Feyk  was glad both the English Department and the Class of 2021 had the opportunity to hear Tom Foster speak. 

“I enjoyed my time with Mr. Foster,” Mr. Feyk said. “I have read his literature book (and taught chapters from it), and have read portions of his non fiction book. It was nice to know a published author in Flint, Michigan has similar thoughts and ideas on literature and nonfiction, and his insights were illuminating.”