“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” – William Faulkner
I want to be a writer like you. Even though I write everyday—professionally, creatively and otherwise—reading plays an important role (if not the most important role) in my development as a writer. By reading “everything”, I am able to see how different writers approach our complex craft, from style and prose to dialogue and punctuation.
But what do we read to learn about the elements of a writer that extent far beyond fundamentals and talent into the realm of intangibles? These things—be they abstract thought, an appreciation for prosaic or a tolerance for ambiguity—cannot be learned from a textbook (find me a book that starts with “the key to imbuing the details of the world around you into your writing effectively is”). They can, however, be gleaned from a lifetime of good reading. And so we arrive at The Art of Fiction, a series of interviews by the Paris Review that dates back to the middle of the 20th century.