Reading Like a Writer

A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

288 pages

English language

Published Aug. 22, 2006 by HarperCollins.

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5 stars (2 reviews)

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][1], [Flaubert][2], [Kafka][3], [Austen][4], [Dickens][5], [Woolf][6], [Chekhov][7]—and discovers why their work has endured. She takes pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of [Philip Roth][8] and the breathtaking paragraphs of [Isaac Babel][9]; she is deeply moved by the brilliant characterization in [George Eliot][10]'s [Middlemarch][11]. She looks to [John Le Carre][12] for a lesson in how to advance plot through dialogue, to [Flannery O'Connor][13] for the cunning use of the telling detail, and to [James Joyce][14] and [Katherine Mansfield][15] for clever examples of how to employ gesture to …

6 editions

Review of 'Reading Like a Writer' on 'GoodReads'

4 stars

I don't know if this book will help people be better writers. However, I do think it will encourage people to slow down a bit when reading literary classics, and to pay attention to more than just their plots.

It is true that Prose doesn't really talk much about genre fiction (except for a couple of references to Raymond Chandler) but I think that's fine. She writes what she knows, and there are plenty of other studies of what makes genre fiction great.

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5 stars