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My Reading Life

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  5,805 ratings  ·  1,095 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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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,805 ratings  ·  1,095 reviews

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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.”

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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 he
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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'
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
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
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
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
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
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
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
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 introduces us to them.
Nov 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Curse you, Pat Conroy! Another night and most of a day immersed in one of his offerings, My Reading Life; so often have I been consumed by his words and mesmerized by how he retroactively tickled hidden ivories of my own life. And he is wrong when he asserts he never taught after his experience on Daufuskie; perhaps he did not stand before a gaggle of students, but his books entertained and instructed me from the start, a gripping sojourn begun with The Lords of Discipline, a gift from my mother ...more
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Take a deep breath. This is a long sentence and probably the longest review I have written. If you love your mother, if you love to read to yourself and to your children and grandchildren, if you like anything else by Pat Conroy, and if you love goodreads because you can read what friends and strangers have thought about what you read and you can follow those people to see what else they have read that you might also enjoy, then you will love My Reading Life.

Here's a brief list of my reading hi
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I will begin with this quote from Pat Conroy talking about his love for the writing of Thomas Wolfe in his book My Reading Life.

“Do I not see his flaws? Of course I do but I see my own with much greater sadness and embarrassment.”

I feel the same about Pat Conroy. I’ve read almost everything he has ever written beginning with The Lords of Discipline which is his best, most coherent novel. By the time I knew who Thomas Wolfe was I think it was too late for me to begin reading his novels. I just co
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is a perfect microcosm of Pat Conroy's works. There are times it is soaring and powerfully brilliant and beautiful. And there are times when the text is verbose and too florid and leaves the reader shaking their head at Mr. Conroy's insistence at writing such unnecessarily extravagant prose. The great thing about Pat Conroy is that he sees and admits to this flaw in himself, and does it anyway. Take it or leave it. With that choice, I guess I'll take it.
"My Reading Life" is a collectio
Carol Bakker
I read the print version of this in 2012, and wrote on my blog:

Pat Conroy — He reads, he writes, he journals, he talks, he listens. From the time I could talk I took an immense pleasure in running down words, shagging them like fly balls in some spacious field. He honors the mother who hungered for art, for illumination, for some path to lead her to a shining way to call her own. She lit signal fires in the hills for her son to feel and follow.

I think I like Pat Conroy because we share the same
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
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 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great, great insights into the books and mentors that influenced Conroy's work. I happily thought, "He backs my opinion of Gone With The Wind (which I read in 22 hours in 8th grade, mostly under my desk during class....). And he'd approve of my rereading Tolkien ever decade of my life. And I've read Anna Karenina more than once too. And I've really read War and Peace and...wait, he read it more than once? How many times? Oh no, he's going to talk me into reading it again." And several other book ...more
Kelly Hager
Oct 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
I’m a big fan of books about books and reading, and this book is one of the reasons. Each chapter is about a different book, author or inspiration for Conroy in his life or in his work.

Those include Gone With the Wind (LOVE!), James Dickey (who was actually Conroy’s teacher), his English teacher (who introduced him to Joan Baez and The Catcher in the Rye) and his mother, a bibliophile to rival all bibliophiles.

Ultimately, you probably already know whether you want to read this. If you don’t lik
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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
“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
“Here is all I ask of a book- give me everything. Everything, and don't leave out a single word.” 71 likes
More quotes…