Book Review: Reading Like a Writer

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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This book is another one of my adventures into books about writing written by actual writers. According to Francine Prose, creative writing, ultimately, cannot be taught. She encourages the would-be writer to, instead, learn through a form of literary osmosis: study the masters. She believes the rules, usually, taught in writing classes are all too often arbitrary and restrictive. Prose shows how the great writers—masters whom stand the test of time—broke with the conventions of their day.

Keep in mind, Francine Prose is not only an accomplished author, but has experience teaching creative writing at the university level; she has seen and done it all.

“It is time for writers to admit that nothing in this world makes sense. Only fools and charlatans think they know and understand everything. The stupider they are, the wider they conceive horizons to be. And if an artist decides to declare that he understands nothing of what he sees—this in itself constitutes a considerable clarity in the realm of thought, and a great step forward.”

Anton Chekhov

Of course, there are better craft reference books out there. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of building sentences, pacing, etcetera, this book is not for you. However, if you are new to writing, and want to just know what the hell it is you are suppose to write, suppose to notice, suppose to build, suppose to engage, then this book is a must-read. Learning how the masters told their stories is never a dull undertaking.

Happy Reading!

I recommend, if you found this review helpful, you read this post, too.

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