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Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

by

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them Cover

 

Staff Pick

Reading Like a Writer is a treasure chest. You can crack it open at any chapter and come away enriched. Prose is one of the best teachers around, and for the price of a paperback, you are getting an Ivy League education in writing. For people who love books, Prose will enhance their reading experience. The list of books "to be read immediately" is a great collection of old and new classics. For writers, the book is nothing short of a revelation.
Recommended by Beth, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"The trick to writing, Prose writes, is reading — carefully, deliberately and slowly. While this might seem like a no-brainer, Prose (Blue Angel; A Changed Man) masterfully meditates on how quality reading informs great writing, which will warm the cold, jaded hearts of even the most frustrated, unappreciated and unpublished writers. Chapters treat the nuts and bolts of writing (words, sentences, paragraphs) as well as issues of craft (narration, character, dialogue), all of which Prose discusses using story or novel excerpts. This is where the book truly shines; Prose is remarkably egalitarian in choosing exemplars of fiction: David Gates, Denis Johnson, John le Carr and ZZ Packer, for instance, are considered as seriously as Chekhov, Melville, Flaubert or Babel. Prose insists that 'literature not only breaks the rules, but makes us realize that there are none,' and urges writers to re-read the classics (Chekhov, especially) and view 'reading as something that might move or delight you.' Prose's guide to reading and writing belongs on every writer's bookshelf alongside E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Do you really want to read like a writer? Think carefully about the question, book lovers, because you may come to rue the powers you desire. Reading like a writer means reading with a hyper-awareness of craft, analyzing, rather than simply surrendering to, the power of literature. Worshippers of 'The Great Gatsby' will recall Nick Carraway's first sun-splashed glimpse of Daisy Buchanan, but those... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"As the title suggests, this book is likely to find its audience with readers who are also writers or who long to be." Library Journal

Review:

"In this excellent guide, Prose explains exactly what she means by 'close reading,' drawing attention to the brick and mortar of outstanding narratives....In the process, she does no less than escort readers to a heightened level of appreciation of great literature." School Library Journal

Review:

"Like the great works of fiction, it's a wise and voluble companion." New York Times

About the Author

Francine Prose is the author of fourteen books of fiction, including, most recently, A Changed Man and Blue Angel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has taught literature and writing for more than twenty years at major universities such as Harvard, Iowa, Columbia, Arizona, and the New School. She is a distinguished critic and essayist. Prose lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

lisa_emily, May 7, 2007 (view all comments by lisa_emily)
Reading Prose?s book vindicates my desire for a life-long career in reading. In fact, it inspired me to become a closer and more attentive reader. She goes through, methodically, chapter by chapter, in exhibiting the foundations of a writer?s craft: words, sentences, paragraphs and etc. In each of these chapters she imparts absorbing examples of writing culled from solid literary works. Just to read the excerpts would be enough reason to read the book, but Prose?s swift delight in reading infects you, the reader. Who cares if anyone ever writes a damn thing again? Prose unfastens an amazing panoply of works out there. You could spend the better years of your life reading very carefully, and in doing so, you would deepen your life.
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(11 of 20 readers found this comment helpful)
Grady, January 30, 2007 (view all comments by Grady)
Sharing and Reciprocating

Francine Prose is fine craftsman and an inspiriting writer of fiction as well as book on history and art. In this current excellent book she shares her vast experience in teaching and in communicating with students, friends, critics, writers both alive and dead, and now with us, the fortunate audience.

Prose is really talking about how both she and other writers practive their craft and in doing so she shares motivational information on how to better enjoy reading: her premise is that if we understand how great works are created we will better appreciated the art of reading.

Beginning with a very informative essay on the concept of reading slowly, for the words and word structures, not unlike the old pastime of reading aloud to a group, Prose seduces us into her world of complete pleasure with the written word. She early on advises us as to the writers she most cherishes - and they are legion - and then develops a manner of looking at the page over several categories of thinking.

Her chapters (after 'Close Reading') are as follows: Words, Sentences, Paragraphs, Narration, Character, Dialogue, Details, and Gestures. In each fascinating chapter she shows us how different authors have successfully addressed each issue of storytelling - and the examples are fascinatingly learned. Prose ends her book with words to encourage us to go back to the classics to better serve our reading of current literature. It all works well - we leave her book hungry to read more! Grady Harp
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(15 of 20 readers found this comment helpful)
Carol Imani, January 18, 2007 (view all comments by Carol Imani)
I always thought that reading would teach me how to write through the magic of osmosis, but Francine Prose has enabled me to understand that reflecting on how writers mesmerize us, when they do, is actually a more effective way to learn how to try and weave our own spells as writers. I loved her witty and insightful appreciations of favorite writers of mine such as Roth, Chekhov and George Eliot.
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(8 of 23 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060777043
Subtitle:
A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
Author:
Prose, Francine
Author:
by Francine Prose
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
General
Subject:
English language
Subject:
Books & Reading
Subject:
Authors
Subject:
General Literary Criticism & Collections
Subject:
English language -- Rhetoric.
Subject:
Creative writing
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20060822
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.56x5.84x.99 in. .89 lbs.

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Related Subjects

» BLOCKED
» Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
» Reference » Reading
» Reference » Writing » General

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$23.99 In Stock
Product details 288 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780060777043 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Reading Like a Writer is a treasure chest. You can crack it open at any chapter and come away enriched. Prose is one of the best teachers around, and for the price of a paperback, you are getting an Ivy League education in writing. For people who love books, Prose will enhance their reading experience. The list of books "to be read immediately" is a great collection of old and new classics. For writers, the book is nothing short of a revelation.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The trick to writing, Prose writes, is reading — carefully, deliberately and slowly. While this might seem like a no-brainer, Prose (Blue Angel; A Changed Man) masterfully meditates on how quality reading informs great writing, which will warm the cold, jaded hearts of even the most frustrated, unappreciated and unpublished writers. Chapters treat the nuts and bolts of writing (words, sentences, paragraphs) as well as issues of craft (narration, character, dialogue), all of which Prose discusses using story or novel excerpts. This is where the book truly shines; Prose is remarkably egalitarian in choosing exemplars of fiction: David Gates, Denis Johnson, John le Carr and ZZ Packer, for instance, are considered as seriously as Chekhov, Melville, Flaubert or Babel. Prose insists that 'literature not only breaks the rules, but makes us realize that there are none,' and urges writers to re-read the classics (Chekhov, especially) and view 'reading as something that might move or delight you.' Prose's guide to reading and writing belongs on every writer's bookshelf alongside E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "As the title suggests, this book is likely to find its audience with readers who are also writers or who long to be."
"Review" by , "In this excellent guide, Prose explains exactly what she means by 'close reading,' drawing attention to the brick and mortar of outstanding narratives....In the process, she does no less than escort readers to a heightened level of appreciation of great literature."
"Review" by , "Like the great works of fiction, it's a wise and voluble companion."
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