Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy... A Review

"From the beginning I've searched out those writers unafraid to stir up the emotions, who entrust me with their darkest passions, their most indestructible yearnings, and their most soul-killing doubts." ...Pat Conroy, My Reading Life
Perhaps you know author Pat Conroy from his unforgettable novels, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music or South of Broad. But what you might forget for a moment is that authors also read. In Pat Conroy's My Reading Life we are allowed to step back in time to learn the origins of his passion for the written word and follow along as that passion becomes a life long relationship...
In My Reading Life, Conroy revisits a life of reading through an array of wonderful 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 spent in Paris, as well as reflecting on other pivotal people, places, and experiences. His story is a moving and personal one, guided by wisdom and an undeniable honesty. Anyone who not only enjoys the pleasures of reading but believes in the power of books to shape a life will find here the greatest defense of the credo.
Pat Conroy is a wonderful storyteller, and in his book, My Reading Life, he uses his gift with the pen to weave a wonderful story full of a life long passion for reading, with the people, places and books that fed his appetite. One of those people was his mother, and at the beginning of the book I was so touched by their relationship, how they discussed books, and how Peg Conroy took her little boy's curiosity of the world around him and showed him how the answers could almost always be found between the pages of a book...

"The deep forests of those isolated bases became the kingdom that I took ownership of as a child. I followed the minnow-laced streams as they made their cutting way toward the Trent River. Each time in the woods, I brought my nature-obsessed mother a series of captured animals, from snapping turtles to copperheads... At the library she began to check out books that gave me a working knowledge of those creatures that my inquisitive, overprotective dog and I had found while wandering the woods."

Pat Conroy's mother was only the beginning of the influential people that would play a part in his reading life. There was his teacher Gene Norris that helped Pat speak his mind in defending Catcher in the Rye at a school board meeting, a grouchy librarian that handed him The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and a great antiquarian bookstore where he befriended the owner and learned the ins and outs of old books.

We all have fond memories of the books that we read as a child and of the many books we've loved as an adult. A special book you received as a gift, a teacher that inspired you to read the classics... These memories form our relationship with books and reading. My Reading Life chronicles Pat Conroy's relationship with books and reading. This is such a wonderful little book! The writing is filled with the love of reading, with books that I myself have loved and I couldn't help but enjoy reading about someone else's love of books and how it all came to be. This is a great inside look at a favorite author, but also a look at a reading compadre- someone else whose life was impacted by the written word, and who shows us that no matter what your station, books can change your life!

I want to thank Doubleday for sending along a review copy! You can get a copy for yourself at your local bookstore because My Reading Life by Pat Conroy was just released last week! *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...


I like Pat Conroy a lot (Prince of Tides and South of Broad were great), and after reading your review of this NF, I'll probably like this one as well --thanks 4 sharing your thoughts.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Bibliophile By the Sea!
If you like Pat Conroy's books, you'll enjoy getting an inside glimpse into the reader behind the writer! He is such a good writer that he doesn't miss a beat keeping our attention even in his memoir! Thanks for stopping by!

Sharon said...

I am sad to say that I haven't read any of Conroy's work. I have been meaning to. This sounds like a good read, I am off to put it on my wish list. Thanks for the great review.

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