Friday, July 26, 2013

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

I have a confession to make. There are some authors who write fiction bestsellers, and I'm a fan of
their nonfiction essays. I love Anna Quindlen's nonfiction. Lisa Scottoline's newspaper columns written with her daughter make me laugh. For some reason, I never picked up Pat Cornoy's My Reading Life when it came out, although I usually love essays about books.The book made me cry at lunch yesterday.

Conroy chronicles his life through the books he read, and his reading relationships. His childhood interests in Ted Williams led him to baseball books. He read books about Native Americans and wildlife. When he wrote about his mother, who introduced him to a lifetime passion for books, he said when he was interested in a subject, "She answered me with trips to the library." And, "There was nothing my mother could not bring me from a library." His mother, who was ashamed of her lack of education, built on her knowledge by reading every book her son read in school. Conroy's pride in his mother's love of books is evident in his writing.

And, his own love of books comes through on every page. He discovered the joy of owning books at The Old New York Book Shop in Atlanta, a place that became his home away from home. He developed as a writer with the help of a beloved teacher, Gene Norris, and I cried as I read of his relationship. Conroy analyzes Gone with the Wind, the book his mother loved, the book he saw as the true story of the South. "This book demonstrates again and again that there is no passion more rewarding than reading itself, that it remains the best way to dream and to feel the sheer carnal joy of being fully and openly alive."

I'll admit I don't read the literature that Pat Conroy admires.But, any lover of books should pick up My Reading Life. Conroy is passionate about books, and his lyrical description of that passion is beautiful. "I trust the great novelists to teach me how to live, how to feel, how to love and hate. I trust them to show me the dangers I will encounter on the road as I stagger on my own troubled passage through a complicated life of books that try to teach me how to die."

Pat Conroy's website is

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy. Doubleday. 2010. ISBN 9780385733577 (hardcover), 337p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Beth Hoffman said...

I love Pat Conroy and have had this title on my list for ages. I'm so glad I read your review because it pushed me to go ahead a buy it.

Hope you and the kitties have a nice weekend, Lesa.

Nancy said...

Thanks for this review, Lesa. It does look to be a book I would enjoy. My mother was also a big influence on my reading life.

Kaye Barley said...

Oh, Lesa, I am so happy you discovered this little treasure!!! NOW - run run run and buy a copy of his cookbook. It's also full of these types of essays that, I promise, you will love. It's probably the only cookbook in the world that lives on a nightstand (mine!).

Inside A Book said...

This sounds like the perfect book for me. I too have not read his fiction, but this nonfiction sounds like it is rot up my alley!! Thanks for sharing what made you smile AND cry!

PS...the monsoons have arrived. They miss you ;)

Inside A Book said...

Right up my alley...not rot up my alley! iPads...ack!

Lesa said...

I loved sharing this book with all of you. A cookbook on your nightstand must be special, Kaye. Gaye, I don't miss the monsoons at all. I do miss my friends from Arizona. Hugs to all of you!

Reine said...

Beautiful review, Lesa.Thank you for telling us about this wonderful book.

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten that I intended to read this book. Thanks for your lovely review and reminder!

--Brenda W.