My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

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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.

BONUS: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Pat Conroy's The Death of Santini.

About Pat Conroy

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PAT CONROY is the bestselling author of nine previous books: The Boo, The Water Is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, My Losing Season, The Pat Conroy Cookbook, and South of Broad. Several of his books have been made into successful films. He lives in Fripp Island, South Carolina.
Published November 2, 2010 by Nan A. Talese. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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He is capable of something pure and perfect (“I read for fire”), something hackneyed (“Once you have read War and Peace, you will never be the same”) and something truly affecting (passages on the death of his beloved high-school English teacher), and the dialogue veers from brisk and natural to ...

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Publishers Weekly

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The strengths and weakness of Conroy's novels—both his beguiling narrative voice and his often overly emotional language—are present in this slim paean to the books and book people that have shaped his life.

Sep 27 2010 | Read Full Review of My Reading Life

BC Books

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For a writer who has a reputation for writing lengthy blockbusters, a reputation he not only admits is accurate, but one he takes pride in, Pat Conroy's little collection of essays on his love of books and the people who influenced and fostered that love, My Reading Life, is something of a depart...

May 03 2011 | Read Full Review of My Reading Life

New York Journal of Books

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Reading Tolstoy, you will encounter a novelist who fell in love with his world and everything he saw and felt in it.” He also makes the case that with Tolstoy, “There has never been a writer of his mastery who wrote with such clarity and ease.” This reader wonders, however, whether one could rate...

Nov 02 2010 | Read Full Review of My Reading Life

Entertainment Weekly

In My Reading Life, using his affection for the written word as spackle to hold together stories about people and experiences that have already provided fodder for his novels — his abusive fighter-pilot father in The Great Santini, his time at military college in The Lords of Discipline — he earn...

Oct 27 2010 | Read Full Review of My Reading Life

The Washington Post

Reading this book of essays written so much later, you have to ask: When - if ever - will Conroy get his outsize sense of grievance under control?

Nov 25 2010 | Read Full Review of My Reading Life

Christian Science Monitor

Of James Dickey, another favored writer, Conroy says that Dickey took language, “strung it to its bow and aimed it at the carotid artery of poetry itself.” It’s hard to know from such imagery if Dickey is being praised for making poetry or killing it, and “My Reading Life” is freckled with simila...

Nov 10 2010 | Read Full Review of My Reading Life

San Francisco Chronicle

The fact that she did eight books on the Bourbon court at Versailles and the Napoleonic court that succeeded it, as well as books on courtly life in India, in ancient Egypt, and in Russia under the Romanovs gives ample room to explore what interests her."

Dec 26 2010 | Read Full Review of My Reading Life

About half way through this celebration of the power of reading, Pat Conroy devotes considerable space to Norman Berg, his first book representative, who took him on an extensive tour to various bookstores in an attempt to sell his early novel, The Water is Wide.

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The Christian Century

Ever since he was a freshman in high school, Conroy has tried to read 200 pages a day.

Nov 23 2010 | Read Full Review of My Reading Life

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