The Bottom Line
- Prose's arguments are accessible and thorough.
- The quality of her writing illustrates the very points she makes in her book.
- Reading Like a Writer offers writing instructors a complex approach to familiar writing rules.
- Both beginning writers and pros will find something of value here.
- Readers with short attention spans may not enjoy this book, but would be missing the point.
- Prose argues for the value of learning to read (and write) word by word, sentence by sentence.
- Enjoy discovering new writers, both older and contemporary, through her examples.
- Prose reminds us that literature can show us "how many rooms there are in the house of art."
Guide Review - Reading Like a Writer
As Prose notes, literature, as opposed to books on writing, has the advantage of showing writers what is possible rather than simply giving a list of rules. For instance, we all know the importance of using synonyms to prevent repetition, but by giving an example from Raymond Carver in which words are repeated for a specific purpose, she tells us that it's OK to break the rules and shows how that can be done effectively. (It is for this reason that I recommend this book for writing instructors.)
Finally, unlike many books on the subject, Prose backs up her arguments with her own flawless writing. In Reading Like a Writer, I always felt myself in the hands of an accomplished teacher, writer, and thinker: someone who not only urges us to take more time with words, but shows how this patience pays off in elegant, accessible prose.