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How to Read Like a Writer

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As you know, I’ve been extremely critical of most books that claim to help writers hone their craft. There are a handfull of good ones and, unfortunately, truckloads of bad ones. In yesterday’s New York Times, Emily Barton examined a new guide that might be worth a look.

In Brush Up on Your Chekhov, Barton reviewed Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose. Barton explained that “Another difficulty faced by writing teachers is, paradoxically, the lack of interest many students show in reading. And those who do read often lack the training to observe subtle writerly clues. There’s a real need, then, for Reading Like a Writer — a primer both for aspiring writers and for readers who’d like to increase their sensitivity to the elements of the writer’s craft.”

Barton seemed to find the book extremely useful and noted that it “should be greatly appreciated in and out of the classroom. Like the great works of fiction, it’s a wise and voluble companion.” Solid praise, indeed.