This blog is for Marc Sheffner’s Informal Reading Group, which meets twice a month in the Gakuenmae area of Nara city, Japan, to read excerpts of high-quality English writing and talk about it.

This group started in January, 2009. So far we have been reading mainly English fiction.

Each session has a theme. Each theme is a literary device or technique, and the excerpts are used to illustrate the theme. Below is a list of themes we’ve studied so far.

  • teenage skaz (The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger)
  • irony (The Old Wives’ Taleby Arnold Bennett)
  • novel of ideas (Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand)
  • defamiliarization (Villette by Charlotte Bronte)
  • the unreliable narrator (Remains of the Day by British-born Kazuo Ishiguro)
  • names and naming (Nice Work , How Far Can You Go? both by David Lodge) and City of Glass (The New York Trilogy, Vol 1 by Paul Auster)
  • stream of consciousness and interior monologue (Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Ulysses by James Joyce)
  • Mystery and Suspense (A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins)
  • the difference between author and narrator (Adam Bede by George Eliot, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne)
  • beginnings (Emma by Jane Austen, The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion by Ford Madox Ford)
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    A blog for my informal reading group