Reading Like a Writer

" An absolutely necessary addition to the personal library of anyone who is a writer or dreams of writing, but it's also a terrific choice for anyone that loves to read." -National Public Radio

I have started, stopped, revisited and now continued with this book since last summer. As I read this book I think of so many of you that would love it. She opens the book by posing the questions "Can creative writing be taught?","Can the love of language be taught?", "Can a gift for storytelling be taught?" She would say no.

As a teacher herself she doesn't feel creativity can be transported from teacher to student. She then begins to reveal to all of us her ongoing process of becoming a writer and invites readers to notice great writers that have continued to provide models of inspiration in her own process. Often as readers we are engrossed in the story line and the action with the characters and don't think to take apart the paragraphs, sentences, and words and look at it for the writing. Studying some of her examples has made a difference as I have tried reading like a writer. It may be a second reading of a part of a book. It may be revisiting paragraphs that stayed in your mind long after you put a book down.

She then introduces things that can be learned and that is where I am at. I look forward to reading the rest of the book. She has a list at the end called "Books to Be Read Immediately". Since I haven't read many of the books on the list I have obviously not been reading as a writer! Some of the titles included are Middlemarch by George Elliot, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, and The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.

" On a very basic level, I can't figure out why people would want to write unless they like to read. I mean, what would be the point? For the incredibly glamorous fast track lifestyle? I don't think so." - Francine Prose


  1. I so do that - I take apart sentences when reading. I notice the tone, the voice - is it active, passive .. who is the protagonist, why is that person doing this and that.. what is in the background scene.. what's the weather.. what were the sounds...what do I see when I close my eyes.

    I take it all in. I absolutely love to read. And I like to write.

  2. So...another book I need to get and devour =) Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have Middlemarch on my shelf, and haven't read it. I have got through about half of The Things They Carried, but haven't finished it yet. It is kind of depressing, so I had to stop for a while. (It is about Vietnam). Funny, The Corrections just came up at our book group last week, and everyone who read it absolutely HATED it. This sound like a really good book.

  4. Good for you Shelby... I think you would find this book interesting. would be good to discuss this book when you start through it.
    SVG... I remember Middlemarch too because it was the book RP gave you at your birthday book party. I have always wanted to read it. I have Corrections on my shelf. Each of the chapter in this book have you look at specific parts of writing such as sentences, paragraphs, and characters.Remember when we heard Kim Barnes speak in Lewiston? She said some of these same things about the literature she read.

  5. I like the quote at the end, I beleive that if you want to write you need to love reading and need to analyse it too, but not to overanalyse because that can destroy the magic...


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