One of the things I often do as I'm reading a novel or short story is keep track of words whose definitions I do not know or that I find interesting. Either way, these interesting words are ones I feel might be of use in my own writing. That, and it's good to expand one's vocabulary every once in a while.
Read my review of Farthing.
bourgeois: a member of the middle class
coppiced: a dense growth of bushes
drugget: a rug made of a coarse fabric having a cotton warp and a wool filling
histrionic: characteristic of acting or a stage performance; often affected ("Histrionic gestures")
invigilating: to keep watch; to keep watch over students at an examination.
neologism: the act of inventing a word or phrase
parvenu: a person who has suddenly risen to a higher economic status but has not gained social acceptance of others in that class
portico: a porch or entrance to a building consisting of a covered and often columned area
prosaically: in a matter-of-fact manner
putative: commonly thought or deemed; supposed; reputed; as, the putative father of a child.
spinney: a copse that shelters game
vicar: a Roman Catholic priest who acts for another higher-ranking clergyman