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My Reading Life

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  7,688 ratings  ·  1,206 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Published (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
”My mother’s voice and my father’s fists are the two bookends of my childhood, and they form the basis of my art.”

 photo Pat20Conroy_zpsyd0wyeas.jpg

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Pat Conroy at a book signing in Marin County, California. It was during his Beach Music tour back in 1995. He oozed Southern charm and flashed his razor honed wit. He kept the large crowd that was there to see him laughing and smiling throughout his whole presentation. His cheeks were rosy, and his stark white hair formed a nimbus around his
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Five glorious, sentimental stars for Pat Conroy's memoir about books and reading.

Mr. Conroy died last month, and I picked up My Reading Life as a tribute to him. When I chose it from his list of works, I didn't realize how much I would love this gem of a book, how I would linger over the chapters, taking weeks to read it because I didn't want to return it to the library yet. Keeping this lovely book in my possession was a way of keeping Mr. Conroy around, for just a little bit longer.

The only C
Cathrine ☯️
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Writer Thomas Wolfe died at age 37. At the end of a chapter dedicated to him Pat Conroy wrote “Wolfe’s best novels sleep in secret on a hillside in Asheville—beside him forever, or at least, this is what I believe.” Thankfully this author lived far longer and I’d like to believe that his best were behind him but he had plans for other books and was 200 pages into one when he passed.
Recalling how Look Homeward, Angel impacted his writing life as a young man, he almost persuaded me to do a rer
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Pat Conroy fans and lovers of books
Pat Conroy is one of my favorite authors and this one didn’t disappoint. The writing is gorgeous. This book is a memoir of his love of reading and writing. Reading this felt like reading a big book review, a book review of all the writers and poets that shaped and influenced Conroy in some way.

I loved how each chapter was aligned with a certain period in his life, and with the people who were there during each time – his mother, his high school English teacher, and so on.

One of my favorite cha
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Pat Conroy can write beautifully and he has a way with words.And as he explains in this memoir,he really works at finding those words,which enhance his writing so much.And yet,he has an aversion to pretentious words.

This book is not just about his reading life,but his writing life too.He writes that Margaret Mitchell's book,Gone with the Wind was the biggest reason he became a novelist.

His praise for this book is fulsome and effusive,however,he does acknowledge its flaws as well.Black men and wo
Susan (aka Just My Op)
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
This book is the type of book that I love and hate simultaneously. I literally found myself hanging on every word (and they are such magical, illustrious ones)as I slowly turned the pages, fearing that I might miss yet another pithy, entertaining statement from Mr. Conroy. OK, so the only hate aspect of my relationship to this book is the arduous task of noting all I wanted to remember with post-it flags and highlighter marks, not to mention looking up a few words whose meaning I obsessively had ...more
Jan 24, 2012 rated it liked it
In all of my reading life, I have never read a Pat Conroy book. I couldn't tell you why - probably because I saw "Prince of Tides" and thought "yuck" which may (or may not) have been a complete misjudgment on my part. So when a friend gave me "My Reading Life" as an especially thoughtful Christmas gift, I did not know whether I would love his writing or hate his writing. Turns out a little of both.

Conroy himself admits his prose can be viewed as overwrought, and I cannot agree more. Here is a sa
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*

I fell in love with this book about books – it wasn’t perfect, but it came as close as I’ve found to explaining a deep love of all that is books and reading, shooting at it from different directions. Pat Conroy may be wordy, but he writes beautifully and clearly loves books, shaping his life around them. And he does it in nifty ways – influences on him people-wise, place wise, life wise, and books themselves.

In order it starts with his childhood, and what a fascinating perspective that was for a
Apr 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Pat Conroy in My Reading Life, explores his love of reading and how it shaped him as a writer. After hearing of his death, I had to read this book. I chose the audio version and listened to his voice describing his love of reading that was fostered by his mother and a special teacher. My to read list has grown due to Conroy's enthusiastic, educated, and friendly manner. ...more
Yelda Basar Moers
"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. I trust the great novelists to teach me how to live, how to feel, how to love and hate…I take it as an article of faith that the novels I’ve loved will live inside me forever...That the book accompanies the reader forever, from that day forward, is part of literature’s profligate generosity."

I absolutely loved thi
Deacon Tom F
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This a lovely book. Pat Conroy takes us behind the curtain of his writing journey.

From being a victim of an abusive father to becoming a famous writer, Conroy shares his many ups and downs. It is an honest and entertaining trip.

Throughout the book, I found myself relating to his experiences. His favorite bookstore was similar to one I frequented at Penn State in my undergraduate studies. It was in an old and charming house that made the buying experience warm and cozy.

For those aspiring write
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
I enjoyed this chronicle of author Pat Conroy's personal interests in books and literature. Great reading! ...more
This book has had me thinking for days. It got inside my head and under my skin in ways I didn't expect.

First off, there's the 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." I have not been able to stop thinking about these lines, wondering what Pat Conroy did to cause his daughter to stop talking to him. What would it take for my me
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I have a confession to make: I have never seen the movie The Prince of Tides. I have also not read a single book by Pat Conroy, a southern author who is prevalent in every book store I walk into in my three-state radius.

That is going to change now. After reading his love letter to books, and to the people who led him to those books, I want to see how his reading has been the breeding ground for the books he has produced.

Unfortunately, the book does not have an index of books he discusses, and I'
Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is classic Pat for Conroy fans. As usual, he reveals a lot about himself and his family. When I told one of my friends that I was going to meet Pat Conroy and have him sign my book she asked if it was a list of books he has read. He names very few books in this book. Instead each of the 15 chapters is devoted to a person in his life, beginning with his mother, who encouraged him to read or to write.

I agree with him on many things: his love of story (he says, rightly so, that many authors t
If you enjoy the books of Pat Conroy, you will enjoy this book. If you don't, you won't.

My first introduction to Pat Conroy was through the movie "Conrack," starring Jon Voight. I had never heard of Conroy, much less read him. However, the movie sent me in search of him. When I found the paperback movie tie-in, I was hooked.

From that time forward, I have read Conroy's books. I have met him, spoken with him, and seen him several times on the book circuit. His voice is a familiar sound to me, and
Jan Rice
An autobiography or memoir via the books of one's life--are there more of these? I've only read one previous book of this sort and it was good, too. It also struck me that Pat Conroy was born the same year as me--actually, two days before my husband's birthday. Much of the book also took place in Atlanta, very, very close to where I live now and lived back in the '70s. He lived on Rosedale, behind Callenwolde for part of his childhood, and wrote about that in Prince of Tides. As a young writer, ...more
Connie G
Pat Conroy pays homage to his mother, teachers, booksellers, and writers that shaped him into being a very popular Southern author. He loves the beauty of language, and reads a poem every day to jumpstart his creative juices before he begins writing. Conroy 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 ...more
Conroy's books have been appreciated reads over the years. I've read most of them. And in tribute, I thought I would read his take on his own reading life.

It held my interest. It's a thorough self study of his own developments through reading and the mentors and influences that surrounded his reading paths. And some of it applied to his own progression to successful and selling book copy.

His sensitivity to nuance, Southern USA identity, and hold over hatred and disdain for forceful bullying com
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
“Books are living things and their task lies in their vows of silence. You touch them as they quiver with a divine pleasure. You read them and they fall asleep to happy dreams for the next ten years. If you do them the favor of understanding them, of taking in their portions of grief and wisdom, then they settle down in contented residence in your heart.”

I utterly adore books about books and reading and authors...and this did not disappoint.
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This is the Pat Conroy I loved. I have loved his books until reading "South of Broad" which I found to be a "big hot mess" - not up to my high expectations of a beloved author. But, Pat Conroy is at his best here in describing the books and people that have influenced his writing life. I loved it.

I particularly loved the chapter in which he writes a tribute to his mother and how she directed him in his love of books, the chapter about the relationship with a teacher who saved him - Gene Norris,
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Have just read a few chapters, but the work is as expected. . . wonderful.
If you're a writer who takes his calling seriously, this is a book for you.


In the beginning, all writer's work is derivative.As we mature in this most wonderful art of creating a fictional world as interesting and informative as the one we see around us,we develop our own style.This (hopefully) new and exciting way of viewing the world comes from a variety of sources.One is , of course, our own experiences.
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: conroy
Pat Conroy is my favorite author, he is an amazing storyteller. The first book I read by him was "South of Broad.", I remember being mesmerized with the language and how he wrote his characters with so much depth and substance. Since then, I have read his other novels and he never failed to captivate me with his writing. All of his characters are so rich and lively and his writing style is beyond description, he makes you feel sympathetic with the characters he promises to have a lasting effect ...more
Linda Hart
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This love story to reading will prompt you to read more, both of this silver tongued tale spinner and of others. Conroy chronicles his lifelong love affair with the English language: as a student, reader, teacher, and writer. Books are the vessel on which Conroy first escaped a troubled childhood and abusive father, the bullying of officers as a cadet at the Citadel from which he graduated, and at a young age became a national-bestselling author.

He recounts how throughout his life he’s found me
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I once gave a client presentation where I explained the magical way that words can either add or subtract value to the physical object known as a book. A hardbound journal can be found in one section of a store for $20, owing its value to its nice binding and empty pages that welcome the potential of capturing one's own genius. Across the store, a similarly hardbound novel can be found in the dollar clearance bin, owing its lack-of-value to the words on its pages. Case in point, you can't even g ...more
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge fan of Pat Conroy. I've read almost everything he has published. He is a master storyteller and can create such vivid characters who are forever memorable. I think what I love the most is the way his books are journeys that his characters travel and they always end up changed.

I liked this insight into his upbringing, how he became a writer and what he shared about his career. People impacted his life in a way to foster his writing; others impacted his life and gave him something to wr
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a gorgeous book. The only book by Conroy that I’ve read before is The Prince of Tides, and it was so long ago, I barely remember anything. (Yes, I’ll reread it!) My Reading Life is a glorious, heartfelt, and moving tribute to words, language, stories, readers, writers, poets, teachers, and books. It’s really something to be savored, read and reread.

Re-read in 2020 on audio.
Oct 06, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars. Pat Conroy is a lovely writer and I enjoyed reading about books he has loved and books that have made a difference to his life. What I liked best is reading about how his mother was the impetus to his becoming a life long reader.
Chris Tiernan
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful memoir that is a love letter to books and to the teachers who introduce us to them.
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Pat Conroy (1945 - 2016) was the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs and seven novels, including The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, and The Lords of Discipline. Born the eldest of seven children in a rigidly disciplined military household, he attended the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. He briefly became a schoolteacher (which he chronicled in his memoir The Wate ...more

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“Books are living things and their task lies in their vows of silence. You touch them as they quiver with a divine pleasure. You read them and they fall asleep to happy dreams for the next 10 years. If you do them the favor of understanding them, of taking in their portions of grief and wisdom, then they settle down in contented residence in your heart.” 78 likes
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