Reading Like a Writer Book Summary - Reading Like a Writer Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Reading Like a Writer summary

Francine Prose

A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

4.3 (110 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose is a guide for aspiring writers to slow down and appreciate literature's craft. Prose invites readers to connect with great authors and examine how their work can improve their own writing.

Table of Contents

    Reading Like a Writer
    Summary of 7 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 7

    Rediscover the art of close reading to get inside a great writer’s head.

    Have you ever watched a child read? Many mouth every word they read to themselves silently. They’re incredibly thorough, and make much better close readers than we adults. Why?

    Well, as we grow older, we also grow impatient. We’re able to read faster and tend to read more superficially. This leads to skim-reading, when we’re always on the hunt for quick info, a surprise or a laugh. We devour words like junk food!

    Skim-reading certainly has its merits in certain situations where efficiency is the goal. But when it comes to reading literature, skimming is simply counterproductive. It causes us to miss the most important things, like a word that evokes powerful associations, or a subtext that shimmers between the lines.

    Great literature, after all, has many layers of meaning. No matter how deep you dig, you’ll always discover more. By slowing down your reading, you’ll make your experience of the text far more rewarding. Paying closer attention to words will also bring you closer to the great masters who wrote them, allowing you to learn from them and improve your own writing in turn.

    So how exactly do you relearn the habit of taking it slowly when reading? It can prove rather difficult without the right incentive. But, sometimes, all it takes is one clue to keep your eyes glued to the page.

    The author recalls how her English teacher suggested she pay close attention to motifs of seeing and blindness while reading Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare’s King Lear. Soon enough, she discovered that both texts were filled with curious patterns, parallels and connections, as if the two authors had hidden them there for her to uncover. Whole new dimensions of meaning emerged in the texts, changing her reading experience entirely.

    By taking a closer look at certain patterns of literary texts, you’ll learn to slow your reading down and discover what every sentence really has to offer. But how do you know which pattern to follow? We’ll have a look in the next blink.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Reading Like a Writer?

    Key ideas in Reading Like a Writer

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Reading Like a Writer about?

    Reading Like a Writer (2006) shows us how to read literary masterpieces with open eyes. These blinks explain the patterns of writing that make fiction memorable, powerful and authentic, helping us slow down our reading and find more enjoyable experiences in every book.

    Reading Like a Writer Review

    Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose (2006) offers a unique perspective on the art of reading and its impact on writing. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides insightful analysis of various literary works, helping readers understand the techniques and craftsmanship behind great writing.
    • The book demonstrates the importance of close reading and paying attention to detail, enabling readers to develop a deeper appreciation for literature.
    • With its engaging examples and practical exercises, it encourages readers to become more attentive readers, while also sparking their creativity as writers.

    Best quote from Reading Like a Writer

    In the particular is contained the universal. - Samuel Beckett

    —Francine Prose
    example alt text

    Who should read Reading Like a Writer?

    • Avid readers who want to get more out of their fiction-reading experience
    • Writers and those dreaming of becoming one
    • Anyone who promised themselves they’d read the classics, but hasn’t managed to yet

    About the Author

    Francine Prose is a best-selling author and essay writer. She’s also won several literary prizes and was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2000 for her novel, Blue Angel.

    Categories with Reading Like a Writer

    Book summaries like Reading Like a Writer

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Reading Like a Writer FAQs 

    What is the main message of Reading Like a Writer?

    The main message of Reading Like a Writer is to develop writing skills through reading and close analysis of literature.

    How long does it take to read Reading Like a Writer?

    Reading Like a Writer can take several hours to read, depending on your reading speed. However, you can read the Blinkist summary in just 15 minutes.

    Is Reading Like a Writer a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Reading Like a Writer is worth reading for aspiring writers. It offers valuable insights and techniques to improve your craft.

    Who is the author of Reading Like a Writer?

    The author of Reading Like a Writer is Francine Prose.

    What to read after Reading Like a Writer?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Reading Like a Writer, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
    • Write Your Book in a Flash by Dan Janal
    • Wired for Story by Lisa Cron
    • Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield
    • On Writing Well by William Zinsser
    • Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
    • The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker
    • Million Dollar Weekend by Noah Kagan
    • Quiet by Susan Cain
    • Possible by William Ury