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My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
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My Reading Life (2010)

by Pat Conroy

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7316819,118 (3.91)213
  1. 20
    The Pleasure of Reading by Antonia Fraser (bell7)
    bell7: Another celebration of reading and writing, The Pleasure of Reading takes essays from fourteen different writers, who focus specifically on their reading and list their favorite books.
  2. 10
    Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (_Zoe_)
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Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
I didn't get far in this book before it was obvious I was in the hands of a gifted writer. I knew that about Conroy, but it has been a while since I read one of his books and I"d forgotten how good he is. It is fascinating to find out about how important books and reading have been to him and his family. Highly recommend. ( )
  tkcs | Feb 23, 2019 |
This is one of my favorite genres - memoir, loosely joined - by one of my favorite authors. Huge, extravagant, delicious page after page. It makes me want to read more, write more, think more: be more. ( )
  CatherineBurkeHines | Nov 28, 2018 |
Funny-I've tried to read his latest novel and thought his writing style was too juvenile. However, I loved this selection of essays. I could empathize completely with his need of the written word and it really made me want to start writing again. Sort of. I will give his fiction another try now. ( )
  gossamerchild88 | Mar 30, 2018 |
This unusual book really is about reading books and a bit about writing them as well. Some of the chapters are entitled: Gone With the Wind (how his mother introduced him to this book as a young kid); The Teacher (about his high school English teacher who guided him through reading); Charles Dickens and Daufuskie Island (the last place he worked as a teacher for some illiterate black islanders off the coast of South Carolina for a year and their version of A Christmas Carol); The Old New York Book Shop (a used bookstore in Atlanta that he discovered in the 1970s and began his book collection with them); On Being a Military Brat; A Southerner in Paris (writing his novel in Paris); A Love Letter to Thomas Wolfe (his obsession with the author); The Count (his obsession with War and Peace); My Teacher, James Dickey (taking a class under the author), and the essay Why I write.

His high school English teacher, Gene Norris, was like a father-figure to him. He also helped to guide him on his reading journies. The two would take weekend trips together to go antiquing or to meet the Poet Laureate of South Carolina, which in today's light would be deemed highly inappropriate. Nonetheless, the trips and the extra attention Norris paid to Conroy and to other kids over the years helped to save them. He sounds like he was an extraordinary man, though perhaps, an odd one.

In the essay The Old New York Book Shop, he talks about the used bookstore that he walked past for the longest time in Atlanta on his way to the office he rented to write his novel out of. Until one day he stumbled into it and began buying up books like a fiend. His bookshelf at home pretty much only held textbooks from college. Soon he was getting more bookshelves. He became friends with the owner Cliff Graubart a transplanted New Yorker. He was in there all the time and knew the collection as well as Cliff and helped him to better arrange it since Cliff knew little about literature but a lot about the business end of rare books which he also sold. The bookstore would become a place for other writers to hang out and have launch parties for their books. It was THE place to be in the literary world of the area. Sadly, it closed twenty years ago.

I had trouble reading this book because Conroy's giant ego and what is known as "purple prose" got in the way. Basically, he just wrote so puffed up and went on and on and you wondered if he was ever going to get to a point in your lifetime. But a couple of them were good such as the two I just mentioned and I personally liked the one on Gone With the Wind because I enjoyed that book as a child. Overall, I cannot fully recommend reading this book. Parts were good to read, but at least half of it wasn't worth it.

Quotes
Books contained powerful amulets that could lead to paths of certain wisdom. Novels taught her everything she needed to know about the mysteries and uncertainties of being human. She was sure that if she could find the right book, it would reveal what was necessary for her to become a woman of substance and parts.
-Pat Conroy (My Reading Life p 5)

In the vast repository of language, the poets never shout at you when you pass them by. Thiers is a seductive, meditative art. They hand you a file to cut your way out from any prison of misrule.
-Pat Conroy (My Reading Life p 140)
In Paris, it is a spiritual duty to grow fat
-Pat Conroy (My Reading Life p 223) ( )
1 vote nicolewbrown | Nov 6, 2017 |
Now here is a book about reading that does what it oughta. Conroy has erased that disappointed feeling I had after reading Howard's End is on the Landing. Conroy "grew up a word-haunted boy". He tells us how his mother instilled a love of reading and learning in him by bringing home books from the library to educate herself; how, even though he attended 11 different schools in 12 years, he managed to connect with some special teachers who made lasting impressions on his reading life (and more). He explains what certain books and authors have meant to him personally and as a writer. Finally, he left me with an urge to read something new with the turn of nearly every page.
November 2011 ( )
1 vote laytonwoman3rd | Oct 10, 2017 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
This book is dedicated to my lost daughter, Susannah Ansley Conroy. Know this: I love you with my heart and always will. Your return to my life would be one of the happiest moments I could imagine.
First words
Between the ages of six and nine, I was a native son of the marine bases of Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune in the eastern coastal regions of North Carolina.
Quotations
If there is more important work than teaching, I hope to learn about it before I die.
My mother's voice and my father's fists are the two book-ends of my childhood, and they form the basis of my art.
A novelist must wrestle with all mysteries and strangeness of life itself, and anyone who does not wish to accept that grand, bone-chilling commission should write book reviews, editorials, or health-insurance policies instead.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385533578, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:44 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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

» see all 3 descriptions

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