What to Read and Why
In this brilliant collection, the follow-up to her New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer, the distinguished novelist, literary critic, and essayist celebrates the pleasures of reading and pays homage to the works and writers she admires above all others, from Jane Austen and Charles Dickens to Jennifer Egan and Roberto Bolaño.In an age defined by hyper-connectivity and constant stimulation, Francine Prose makes a compelling case for the solitary act of reading and the great enjoyment it brings. Inspiring and illuminating, What to Read and Why includes selections culled from Prose’s previous essays, reviews, and introductions, combined with new, never-before-published pieces that focus on her favorite works of fiction and nonfiction, on works by masters of the short story, and even on books by photographers like Diane Arbus.Prose considers why the works of literary masters such as Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Jane Austen have endured, and shares intriguing insights about modern authors whose words stimulate our minds and enlarge our lives, including Roberto Bolaño, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Jennifer Egan, and Mohsin Hamid. Prose implores us to read Mavis Gallant for her marvelously rich and compact sentences, and her meticulously rendered characters who reveal our flawed and complex human nature; Edward St. Aubyn for his elegance and sophisticated humor; and Mark Strand for his gift for depicting unlikely transformations. Here, too, are original pieces in which Prose explores the craft of writing: "On Clarity" and "What Makes a Short Story."Written with her sharp critical analysis, wit, and enthusiasm, What to Read and Why is a celebration of literature that will give readers a new appreciation for the power and beauty of the written word.

What to Read and Why Details

TitleWhat to Read and Why
Author
ReleaseJul 3rd, 2018
PublisherHarper
ISBN-139780062397881
Rating
GenreWriting, Books About Books, Nonfiction, Language, Essays, Criticism, Literary Criticism

What to Read and Why Review

  • Diane Barnes
    January 1, 1970
    Essays about books, reading, and authors. Some I have read, some I haven't but choose not to, and others were added to my tbr. Which is the whole point of reading books like this. I did appreciate the background information on the authors.
  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    For comparison, I LOVE Prose's Reading Like a Writer but What to Read and Why is like its pale third cousin. It feels like a random collection of essays, which aren't particularly compelling or intersectional, and the "why" part is pretty vague. Two chapters capture the feel of Reading Like a Writer - "On Clarity" and "What Makes a Short Story?" - but these come at the end of the book, so too little, too late. Skip this one, unless you die hard on the hill of "Books about Books" then I recommen For comparison, I LOVE Prose's Reading Like a Writer but What to Read and Why is like its pale third cousin. It feels like a random collection of essays, which aren't particularly compelling or intersectional, and the "why" part is pretty vague. Two chapters capture the feel of Reading Like a Writer - "On Clarity" and "What Makes a Short Story?" - but these come at the end of the book, so too little, too late. Skip this one, unless you die hard on the hill of "Books about Books" then I recommend borrowing from the library.
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  • Lissa
    January 1, 1970
    I have discovered that no other writer displays an inextinguishable passion for reading and books like Francine Prose.  The level of close reading she undertakes in order to really absorb a work of literature is inspiring and a joy itself to read.  As she explains in her introduction, this collection is a mix of book reviews, introductions to classics and various relevant essays.  Many authors were familiar but many more were added to my ever expanding list of books to read in the future.  My re I have discovered that no other writer displays an inextinguishable passion for reading and books like Francine Prose.  The level of close reading she undertakes in order to really absorb a work of literature is inspiring and a joy itself to read.  As she explains in her introduction, this collection is a mix of book reviews, introductions to classics and various relevant essays.  Many authors were familiar but many more were added to my ever expanding list of books to read in the future.  My recommendation is to read them slowly, not only to discover "what to read and why" but to also learn how to read in order to become fully immersed in a story.  I kindly received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 
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  • Kirsti
    January 1, 1970
    I should have paid attention to the Goodreads reviews. I found this well-written but dreary. It didn't inspire me to read any of the authors mentioned. For books about reading, I will stick with Anne Fadiman from now on.
  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    I think I like Prose' fiction better, but this is another gem like Reading Like A Writer. My favorite chapters were on Complimentary Toilet Paper, Lolita, and Mavis Gallant. I am reading all those authors now. I like when she was able to related her own works like Blue Angel and A Changed Man to the other works and the writing process.
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  • Aryssa
    January 1, 1970
    Has some really good essays but a lot of ones that don’t resonate at all if you haven’t read the book or even heard of it. The Nabokov essay is fascinating
  • GONZA
    January 1, 1970
    As far as I am concerned, very few thing are better than books about books, mostly because if you know th title you are going to learn something more about it, if you don't, you have a new book for your to read list. In this case there are many authors I didn't know and the other were mostly the one I like already so it was a real pleasure.Per quanto mi riguarda, poche cose sono belle come i libri che parlano di libri, sia perché se giá li consoci, vieni comunque a scoprire cose nuove su di loro As far as I am concerned, very few thing are better than books about books, mostly because if you know th title you are going to learn something more about it, if you don't, you have a new book for your to read list. In this case there are many authors I didn't know and the other were mostly the one I like already so it was a real pleasure.Per quanto mi riguarda, poche cose sono belle come i libri che parlano di libri, sia perché se giá li consoci, vieni comunque a scoprire cose nuove su di loro, e se non li conosci quanto meno la lista dei libri da leggere si allunga. In questo caso ce n'erano parecchi i cui autori mi erano sconosciuti, e tra quelli conosciuti c'erano alcuni trai miei libri preferiti, quindi una win/win situation.THANKS EDELWEISS FOR THE PREVIEW!
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  • Peg Schoenfelder
    January 1, 1970
    I confess I haven't finished this yet but was so entranced with the paper book I ordered it as an audiobook. She provides such interesting insight into many classic authors that it makes you want to read every one of them.
  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    This is a random collection of essays on writers, books and various aspects of literature that lacks structure and cohesiveness. Prose offers no rationale for her selections and very little explanation as to why we should read them. I was very inspired by her previous book, Reading Like a Writer, but sadly this one was a letdown.
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  • Steven
    January 1, 1970
    This book was not what I expected and was a hard read for me. I kept putting the book down, but I hung in there. By persevering through the prose I came across some glittering ideas. I am glad I hung in there.
  • Denise
    January 1, 1970
    The concept is very promising, so I was excited about the book. To me it read like required reading in school though.
  • Jenny Baker
    January 1, 1970
    I was so excited when I heard Francine Prose had a new book releasing this year. I loved her book Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them so much that I bought a copy for my home library. This wasn't quite as good, but I enjoyed her insight on some of the authors. My favorite chapters were the ones on Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, and I took a lot of notes from those chapters. Aspiring writers will find this book helpful, especially if you I was so excited when I heard Francine Prose had a new book releasing this year. I loved her book Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them so much that I bought a copy for my home library. This wasn't quite as good, but I enjoyed her insight on some of the authors. My favorite chapters were the ones on Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, and I took a lot of notes from those chapters. Aspiring writers will find this book helpful, especially if you enjoy reading books that give you insight on famous writers and their writing styles. The next time I read a Dickens or Austen novel, I'll be looking at their writing with a closer eye and with my notes in hand.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I will fully admit to skipping around this book and not finishing all of the essays. What to Read and Why is a collection of literary criticism essays so I chose to read only the ones about books I had read or were interested in reading. The ones I read were fantastic though! Francine Prose writes with accessible style and I wish I had more of these when writing English essays. I added quite a bit to my reading list and learned a lot about some of my favourite classics.
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  • Ruth
    January 1, 1970
    We have different taste in books.
  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    A perfect book to read on National Book Lover's Day. Prose delves deeply into a number of books of literature, many which I have read, but many more to add to my to be read list.
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