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Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People…
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Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who… (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Francine Prose

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2,363622,662 (3.76)167
Member:Lcwilson45
Title:Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
Authors:Francine Prose
Info:HarperCollins (2006), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:writing, Your library
Rating:****
Tags:non-fiction, writing, reading, first edition

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Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose (2006)

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Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
Good introduction to the subject and other unfamiliar authors. ( )
  charlie68 | Aug 5, 2014 |
Everyone should read this book. Francine Prose is a writer for the New York Review Of Books, where her book reviews are not to be missed. This book captures what readers should be looking for in books, as readers and writers, and it heightens both your appreciation for what you read as well as providing advice for what you write.
Many many examples of writing are included to illustrate points and that heightens the pleasure of reading this book - I now have a longer list of "to be read" selections that I might not otherwise have chosen.
Highly recommended! ( )
1 vote Dabble58 | May 26, 2014 |
Sometimes you just need to get back to basics. That is the suggestion of author Francine Prose as she reflects on creative writing workshops and concludes that they are no substitute for careful, considerate reading of classic novels. With gusto, she jumps into a discussion of technique, and chapter by chapter she works her way through the many tools at an author’s disposal. Quoting liberally from authors as varied as Philip Roth, Jane Austen and Anton Chekov, Prose analyzes each selection and dissects what makes its sentences so effective and the narrative so compelling.

If you want to boil down the book to its essential message, it’s pretty straightforward and basic: read great writers, select your words with care, and craft your sentences instead of merely tossing words upon a page. And let’s be honest – most of us know this instinctively. The trick is learning how to shape those sentences and which details are necessary and which should be discarded. With her clear examples, Prose gave me new ways to consider writing and reading. For every principle she introduced, she would provide some good examples of that kind of writing. I do wish she’d included some unsuccessful writing samples to further illustrate her points.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve had an English professor to critique my writing, and I’m sure it’s gotten sloppier. This book served as a refresher course, and in that capacity it works very well. I recommend it as a source of inspiration, a reminder to pay attention not just to what a writer says, but how he or she expresses it. ( )
1 vote makaiju | Apr 6, 2014 |
Reading Like a Writer is a quite enjoyable read, chock full of good advice and even better examples. I appreciated Prose's distaste for universal rules and principles, and her "show don't tell" method of demonstrating what makes for good writing. All in all, this book just made me feel excited to read more, and made me feel equipped to appreciate what I read more deeply. So I guess it achieved its aim fairly well.

I did wish, however, that Prose also included some examples of writing gone wrong, alongside her countless examples of writing done well. Admittedly, she is explicit about wanting to avoid this (saying that aspiring writers get enough negative criticism as it is in workshops), but it seemed to me that she could've made some of her points more effectively (or that I would've understood them better, at least) with the aid of some contrastive evidence.

Still, this book is a stirring testament to what good writing can be and accomplish. (Plus, it's a goldmine of recommended reading.) Though probably not a book that every passionate reader need own, it is at least a book that every passionate should borrow and eventually read. ( )
  williecostello | Nov 27, 2013 |
I was enjoying this, but then I got stalled, not because it wasn't good (because I think it was quite good), but probably because it's not a library book and there's no time pressure to finish it. Also, there were so many great excerpts that I was adding books to my to-read shelf about every other page; I'm not reading fast enough for that level of growth in my TBR list.

I'll come back to this book eventually and give it a full review. For now, I think after a year and three months, it's time to move this one from my currently-reading shelf. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Nov 24, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
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This book is dedicated to my teachers:
Monroe Engel, Alberta Magzanian, and Phil Schwartz.
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Book description
In this book — subtitled "A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them," — Prose shares how she developed her writing craft through writing and reading. She uses examples from literature to demonstrate how fictional elements, such as character and dialogue, can be mastered.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060777052, Paperback)

Long before there were creative-writing workshops and degrees, how did aspiring writers learn to write? By reading the work of their predecessors and contemporaries, says Francine Prose.

In Reading Like a Writer, Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters. She reads the work of the very best writers—Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Kafka, Austen, Dickens, Woolf, Chekhov—and discovers why their work has endured. She takes pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of Philip Roth and the breathtaking paragraphs of Isaac Babel; she is deeply moved by the brilliant characterization in George Eliot's Middlemarch. She looks to John Le Carré for a lesson in how to advance plot through dialogue, to Flannery O'Connor for the cunning use of the telling detail, and to James Joyce and Katherine Mansfield for clever examples of how to employ gesture to create character. She cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which literature is crafted.

Written with passion, humor, and wisdom, Reading Like a Writer will inspire readers to return to literature with a fresh eye and an eager heart.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:27 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An insider's report on how professionals read and write instructs aspiring writers on the methods employed by such literary figures as Kafka, Austen, and Dickens, in a resource that draws on key examples to demonstrate the essentials of good plot and character development.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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