Renay's Reviews > Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
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's review
Jun 01, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, writing, z-prose-francine

I originally picked this book up because of an excerpt I caught about how the author read, and I thought, "wow, that kind of sounds like the anal retentive way I read things!" I think the part that stuck with me the most was how Prose talked about how students read in some of the classes she taught. It was all about what the authors motives were instead of the words the author provided and the story. I suffered through this, especially with Kafka in World Literature a few years ago. The book breaks down quite a bit of literature I've never read. Plus side: I got more book recs! The other side: I was afraid I didn't get quite as much out of the examples as I could have if I had read the pieces beforehand.

This isn't a book that has a lot to do with writing directly and I don't think much to do with learning how to write. It's geared toward classics (and maybe a few contemporary pieces). If I hated reading book excerpts, I wouldn't have liked this at all. And the entire book is excerpts, where Prose takes pieces of various works to show how authors formatted things to flesh out a story. My favorite sections were "Close Reading," "Words," and "Narration" and all of these occur very early on in the book, which says it all. Other sections the examples given lost me. Prose complimented a sentence I read over ten times and couldn't understand, saying that "careful readers would have no problem understand this."

I think that means I've met my match in close-reading. Hee.

I wish there had been nonfiction, too, since it was mentioned in the excerpt I read. But every one of the books explicated is fiction. There's a lot of wanking of the "greats" here, which is sort of the biggest disappoint for me because I expected, "This is why I think this works." and not "This works because Author A is great at writing amazing sentences."
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 2007 – Finished Reading
June 1, 2007 – Shelved
February 15, 2008 – Shelved as: non-fiction
February 27, 2016 – Shelved as: writing
March 25, 2016 – Shelved as: z-prose-francine

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