On my to-read list: “Reading Like a Writer” by Francine Prose

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Last week I posted in this very space a few things that won’t make you into a better writer. Well, here’s one thing that will: reading. In Francine Prose’s new book Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (hey, that’s us!), she talks about the books she’s read and how she read them to improve her own writing. From the New York Times review:

No reader will revere all the writers Prose finds great, and some may carp at her list of 117 “Books to Be Read Immediately.” But “Reading Like a Writer” is sufficiently capacious — and encouraging — to allow for such differences of opinion. As her subtitle promises, Prose’s little guide will motivate “people who love books” and “those who want to write them” to be sensitive readers of their own and others’ work. And it will inspire them to practice the skills she teaches when reading books like “Middlemarch” and “Sense and Sensibility,” two of the many her exegesis made me hungry to reread.

Consider it added to my wish list. In the meantime, another highly recommended book on the fine art of reading is Camille Paglia’s Break, Blow, Burn. Paglia takes 43 of her favorite poems and in clear and entertaining prose shows us how she reads them. I came away with a new appreciation for poetry and a better sense of how to write some poems of my own.

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