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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 January 2014
I've lingered over the rating for this book. Is it truly a 5 or rightly a 4 star? I've plumped for the former on the basis that there is a universal, albeit less popular truth here. Sometimes, slow is good.

We live in a throw away world increasingly dominated by speed. No time to write or punctuate so 'txt spk rls'...convenience of time over content so if it's fast it must be good. Not always so.

I'm an avid reader. Now, mostly for pleasure but previously I'd acquired fast/speed reading skills to assimilate large amounts of work related text. Mostly dry, policy related documents or technical background data. Speed reading is great for that; skim the whole, identify and absorb the salient bits, move over the rest.

The principles explored here turn a number of concepts on their head. Like a fine or good wine, reading is something to be savoured not gulped. Reading for pleasure should be an emotive experience where words reach into the soul. Even a simple sentence can strike a chord. This book encourages the reader to step back, slow down and think. What was the author trying to achieve? What are they saying? How are they saying it?

In part it took me back some years to a time where an exam book was almost a line by line dissection of any narrative text. Clinical but thought provoking. This book examines similar principles in a more productive and positive way. As a reader, I found it affirming, helpful and instructive. I've often resisted fast reading for pleasure and this book confirms what may be missed and why. For writers, there's a whole different perspective on how to truly engaged with readers.

Really enjoyed the content and the easy but not patronising approach so it's a 5 star winner for that.
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on 13 July 2017
This is a truly amazing book: it is one of the very best ‘how to write’ books I have read. Perhaps the title should mention it. The writing is clear and simple. Using excerpts from great books (and a lot from Chekhov), topic by topic (dialogue, setting, characters etc.), the author points out how great writers tackle each one of these topics. The author highlights their technical skills and what they have achieved. One learns how to analyse and appreciate much better any book one reads. For the writer, I don’t think it is disheartening to discover how incredibly well crafted and hard to achieve masterpieces are. It is a real pleasure to dissect them. This book will inspire any book lover. As for aspiring writers, it doesn’t hurt to aim for the stars. SWEET SUGAR
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on 15 February 2013
Definitely not your average how to write book, but the snippets from the work of great writers along with Francine Prose's analysis are very inspiring - like being back at school and having a great English teacher. I have rushed to download several books for my Kindle that I would otherwise never have considered nowadays - Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea, for example - and really enjoyed them. Brings back a love for language and admiration for the skill of the best writers. It does focus exclusively on language and literary fiction, as opposed to books that have other positive attributes but aren't as well written - such as being gripping, for example. So in terms of writing one's own work - this book is asking you to aim high - possibly unrealistically high. But perhaps there is nothing wrong with that.
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on 25 September 2013
This is a serious piece of work for anyone wanting to analyse writing, it raises questions such as the readability of a text, and how to form an opinion as to the success of different pieces of writing by studying the techniques used by the writer - which can be borne in mind when a writer produces his/her own work.
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on 21 April 2017
They say every budding writer should read, and read as much of what they can get their hands on, whether its a book they like or not. This book really gets to the heart of why a writer reads and how to get the most out of that reading in terms of honing their own writing skills
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on 27 November 2015
A great book. Goes into a lot of depth and penetrates what makes literature tick from a writer's perspective. It's a joy to read in its own right - Prose's own writing is thoughtful and elegant.
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on 4 October 2013
This is a fascinating book, I found the author managed to transport me right back to my childhood in the first chapter. It is written in plain language so is very easy to understand, it also covers different topics that will get you thinking very hard about alternatives to what you were thinking. A very good read.
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on 1 February 2015
One of the most helpful and inspiring books for writers that I've come across. I especially liked the quotes at the end from very famous writers saying just how HARD it is to write.
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on 8 March 2013
Can't speak highly enough about this book. It has re-energised both my writing and reading - and has added numerous titles to my reading list - including rediscovery of some classic books I had read and forgotten and now plan to re-visit. Brilliant
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on 20 January 2014
I so wish I'd had this ook when I was on my English degree course a few years ago. Brilliantly chosen examples that are very inspiring. This is my 'dip in at random & be inspired' book (after Margaret Attwood's Negotiating with the Dead.
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