Sandra Ross's Reviews > My Reading Life

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
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it was amazing

"Good writing is the hardest form of thinking. It involves the agony of turning profoundly difficult thoughts into lucid form, then forcing them into the tight-fitting uniform of language, making them visible and clear." - in the chapter "Why I Write" in My Reading Life

Pat Conroy was a consummate storyteller and I can't think of a novelist who even comes close to crafting sentences so beautiful that they make me cry, so vivid that I am transported in all my senses to the places described, so profound that I catch myself nodding my head, so true that they tug deeply at my soul, and so shocking that they make me shudder visibly and gasp audibly.

I rarely read modern fiction - except for the latest John Grisham novel when I'm flying - because it lacks what Conroy brought to his writing life: he always bared his soul and in the process peeled back the layers on the reader's soul as well.

In this book, Conroy talks about how reading - including teachers and others along the way who opened up a treasure trove of wider reading to him - from an early age not only impacted his life, but also awakened and matured the writer he would become.

His picks are interesting, but the insights into why he chose the works he does are key in understanding Pat Conroy the author.

That doesn't mean I will ever run out and read Gone With the Wind (I have never made it even close to all the way through the movie and I can barely stomach Vivian Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara - Carol Burnett's curtain-rod gown comedy sketch rings dead true with my take on Miss Scarlett) or Deliverance (although Conroy's description of a real life adventure on the rapids of western North Carolina rivers sparked by James Dickey's novel is quite amusing and surprising in that no one got seriously injured or died), but I can appreciate how Conroy's choices shaped him as a writer, just as my choices - I know some of the earliest ones would include Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and 1984 by George Orwell - have shaped me as a writer.

Good, quality reading (reading junk doesn't count) is an essential part of good writing. Conroy's book is another testimony to that fact.

While fiction is in purview here, good, quality non-fiction reading is just as important. Even in fiction writing, veracity counts - historical accuracy, scientific accuracy, mathematical accuracy, etc. - and good, quality non-fiction reading provides that accuracy.

I highly recommend this book.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
May 24, 2017 – Shelved
May 24, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read

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