My Reading Life

My Reading Life

by Pat Conroy
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Overview

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

Bestselling author Pat Conroy acknowledges the books that have shaped him and celebrates the profound effect reading has had on his life.

Pat Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is a voracious reader. Starting as a childhood passion that bloomed into a life-long companion, reading has been Conroy’s portal to the world, both to the farthest corners of the globe and to the deepest chambers of the human soul. His interests range widely, from Milton to Tolkien, Philip Roth to Thucydides, encompassing poetry, history, philosophy, and any mesmerizing tale of his native South. He has for years kept notebooks in which he records words and expressions, over time creating a vast reservoir of playful turns of phrase, dazzling flashes of description, and snippets of delightful sound, all just for his love of language. But for Conroy reading is not simply a pleasure to be enjoyed in off-hours or a source of inspiration for his own writing. It would hardly be an exaggeration to claim that reading has saved his life, and if not his life then surely his sanity.
 
In My Reading Life, Conroy revisits a life of reading through an array of wonderful and often surprising anecdotes: sharing the pleasures of the local library’s vast cache with his mother when he was a boy, recounting his decades-long relationship with the English teacher who pointed him onto the path of letters, and describing a profoundly influential period he spent  in Paris, as well as reflecting on other pivotal people, places, and experiences. His story is a moving and personal one, girded by wisdom and an undeniable honesty. Anyone who not only enjoys the pleasures of reading but also believes in the power of books to shape a life will find here the greatest defense of that credo.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385533577
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/02/2010
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 117,028
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Pat Conroy (1945–2016) was the author of The Boo, The Water Is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life, My Losing Season, South of Broad, My Reading Life, and The Death of Santini.

Hometown:

San Francisco and South Carolina

Date of Birth:

October 26, 1945

Place of Birth:

Atlanta, Georgia

Education:

B.A.,The Citadel, 1967

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My Reading Life 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
I thought this would be an interesting little read and I was not disappointed. I was lucky enough to secure a bound manuscript copy from the publisher. Using a variety of books he has read, over his lifetime, Conroy lets us explore his life with him. We meet his very abusive father whom he learns to love; his mother, who feels second class because of her lack of education and therefore reads everything she can get her hands on, including his reading lists, who yearns for an education and imparts this very love of knowledge to him as they read many of the books together; his poetess sister; his teacher who mentored him, the antithesis of his father, a surrogate parent who was the inspiration of his dream to write; his close friend who owns a marvelous bookstore that he explores often and where he begins to become a collector; an eccentric teacher with an odd "medicinal" need for a bit of liquor who really doesn't belong in a library mentoring kids or in a classroom, her personality is so opposite one that encourages learning through the wonderful doors that books can open; many famous authors, among them Alice Walker who is rude to him because she doesn't like Southern white men and Thomas Wolfe, whom he credits for his writing career plus so many others that have walked with him through his life via his literary universe. We are travelers with him down the road as he searches for his real purpose. Conroy was a lonely young boy, moving from place to place, year after year, as an army brat. I tagged along through his memories as he grew up as a proper Southerner, without the customary prejudices inherent in those times, in fact, he seemed almost colorblind. Since the world was not, he suffered for his openness and all embracing spirit even being fired from a teaching job because he showed an appreciation and affection for students that were non-white. Because of his father's military service, he moved around a lot and did not have strong roots to any one place; I learned that he was often alone and, at times, sad to the point of depression with thoughts of suicide. His marriage is a failure. From his background, he learned to expect and need order and organization. He became a creature of strong habits. His anecdotes are honest and straightforward. Most of them will delight you. They are often humorous even when they are descriptions of dangerous escapades. It is an open and objective appraisal of the events and the people that populated his life. Like Conroy, I wondered what kind of man he would have been if his background had been different. Many of his stories use themes of his past. His sojourn in Paris is a high spot in his life. From witnessing an explosion and fire there, seeing the victim burning and attempting to save him, he finally sees a shape and purpose to his life. He discovers that his passion is just that.he is "a man on fire". He needs to express himself. First he tried to be a poet but was unsuccessful and his career ultimately took off when he became a writer of prose, of novels and now this lovely, little tale of how he grew up through the pages of various books and the friendships of some marvelous, although somewhat unusual, outside of the box, people. Although, at times it was a bit slow and repetitive with anecdotes that moved back and forth in time, out of sequence, i enjoyed it. It is a warmhearted, honest appraisal of his life experiences. Just a discussion of the books and authors
llamamia More than 1 year ago
Pat Conroy could write about the telephone directory and create a mesmerizing story. My Reading Life is both confession and illumination on Conroy's existence and passions. While this book contains snippets of Conroy's life as consummate reader, he bares his soul on many levels. Writing appears to be a means of catharsis for him. He gives credit to major influences in his life from his mother to teachers, authors to book sellers. In the chapter on Paris, his wonderful sense of humor shines through when he describes Parisians. "When they fix you in their imperious stares, it is as if they are studying you from the raised periscopes of submarines right before they blow you out of the water." And his damaged self is revealed once again in the chapter on being a military brat. (I highly recommend another book on this subject, "The Yokota Officer's Club" by Sarah Bird.) My Reading Life helps explain how Conroy has become the fabulous writer he is today. Filled with keen observations and total memory recall, his anecdotes are always entertaining. Pat Conroy is without a doubt my favorite living author. Fans will not be disappointed.
SusieReads More than 1 year ago
Mr. Conroy loves words. He loves their flow, their tumble and play. And he isn't afraid to use them. I learned this when I first start reading his fiction with its exultant, flowery phrases, with its parallels to his own life. This nonfiction book tells me why he writes as he does. Although titled My Reading Life, this book is also about his writing life and his life in general. The fifteen chapters each address a different person or book or time that ultimately shaped who he is and how he writes. "I grew up a word-haunted boy. I felt words inside me and stored them wondrous as pearls. I mouthed them and fingered them and rolled them around my tongue. My mother filled my bedtime hour with poetry that rang like Sanctus bells as she praised the ineffable loveliness of the English language with her Georgia-scented voice. I found that hive of words beautiful beyond all conveyance." I was horrified and embarrassed as a woman to learn how badly he was treated at a writers' conference in the early days of militant feminism, how one famous author whose work I have greatly admired dismissed him out-of-hand because he was a Southern white boy. I loved the glimpses into other authors' lives, how their writings and their personalities could be at such odds. I hated some of the descriptions of his life in Paris, of the horse butchers, of the "fifty Algerian men bidding on the very young girl in the window." "There was an auctioneer in front of the window chiding the men for their cheapness, and the noise rose in pitch as the bidding grew feverish. The girl was very young, fragile, and she was not smiling." How can someone see that and not want to do something to help the girl? How can anyone wonder about the girl's thoughts but stay a passive observer? I am one of those readers who doesn't want all the sentences I read to be lean, even though there can be beauty in their sparseness. I like the sentences that carry me off, let me smell and see and feel. Pat Conroy can write these sentences. "I long for that special moment when I take off into the pure oxygen-rich sky of a sentence that streaks off into a night where I cannot follow, where I lose control, where the language seizes me and shakes me in such a way that I feel like both its victim and its copilot." The next time I read Conroy's fiction, I will appreciate it all the more for understanding a bit of the man who wrote it. The quotes were taken from a pre-publication bound manuscript and may change in the published edition. Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy.
Anna_Louise More than 1 year ago
Pat Conroy has a way with his words that bring life into books. This book is that way and a must read for any bibliophile.
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fred5962 More than 1 year ago
I found Conroy's book to be most revealing about why he thinks the way he does and why he writes about what he does. You will find many interesting side stories as you read, also, things you might not have gotten to know if you had just met him somewhere. He explains his feelings in detail. If you're a Pat Conroy fan, you need to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Pat Conroy. His honest decription of his traumatic childhood and passion for the written word are nothing short of inspiring. He spoke at my graduate school graduation and my family and I have been fans ever since.
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