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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,438 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Pat Conroy Narrator: Pat Conroy Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9780307749215
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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.


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Quotes & Awards

  • “Conroy’s legion of fans will doubtlessly bond with the author as he earnestly explores the role of books in providing him with inspiration and solace.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “What a delightful little book…with a punch far sturdier than its compact size might suggest…Try to resist rereading it!”

    Booklist

  • “If you relish the literary equivalent of a gospel shout-out, it’s tough to trump My Reading Life, Pat Conroy’s charming chronicle of his lifelong devotion to language, writing, and books. The much-loved author of The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, and The Great Santini floods these pages with memories both painful and sweet: his mother’s furious quest to educate herself by (omnivorous) reading, his violently abusive military father, and, despite a boyhood ‘lonely as an earthworm,’ Conroy’s hell-bent determination to write.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • Timely as well as timeless ... Elegant, evocative, and elegaic. Boston Globe
  • The 15 essays in My Reading Life should delight curious readers ... [Conroy] is fun to read and debate. USA Today
  • Pat Conroy doesn't just love books, he devours them. He doesn't just visit libraries and bookstores, he inhabits them. He doesn't enjoy language, he revels in it ... [My Reading Life] is a rich, unabashedly self-critical and moving tribute to a writer's passion ...  Like Stephen King did in his remarkable On Writing, Conroy reminds us of his considerable talents for telling a story and arranging words. Associated Press
  • Conroy's legion of fans will doubtlessly bond with the author as he earnestly explores the role of books in providing him with inspiration and solace. Publishers Weekly
  • What a delightful little book ... with a punch far sturdier than its compact size might suggest ... Try to resist rereading it! Booklist
  • Pat Conroy's writing contains a virtue now rare in most contemporary fiction: passion. Denver Post
  • Reading Pat Conroy is like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel. Houston Chronicle
  • In this marvelous blueprint for how to engage with all things literary, the goal is not only to get wet, but to fall deeply and madly in over our heads. With its heady mix of memoir, advice and out-and-out lust for the written word, My Reading Life asks how we could possibly settle for anything less. Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • [Conroy's] fans will savor these 15 essays on the books and people that helped shape his long writing career ... They lend themselves to being taken up separately, at leisure, and savored like a rich dessert. The Charlotte Observer
  • My Reading Life extols the glories of books [and] offers heartfelt thanks to those who encouraged a passion that led [Conroy] to writing. The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
  • In My Reading Life, we not only learn about many of Conroy's pivotal reading experiences, we see how he came together as a writer, and are entertained by a host of stories about unlikely heroes. Asheville Citizen-Times
  • Selected for the December 2010 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean | 2/17/2014

    " Interesting insight into books and writers that influenced this author; particularly as they related to his conflictual, painful childhood. Those which I have not read, I am inclined to do so, because of his immense passion for them. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debby | 2/10/2014

    " Some writers just compell one to read their pieces, even when subject matter isn't what you want it to be. That's how Conroy's works are for me and this collection of his writings is no different. What a brilliantly read man who is able to transfer all his experiences to wonderful stories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kevin | 2/8/2014

    " It's only natural to wonder where & how writer get their ideas, but thanks to this book we no longer who & what inspired Patrick Conroy. My Reading Life is an absolutely fascinating look into the people, writers, and books that made Conroy into the great writer he is today ! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jay Bullman | 2/7/2014

    " This was apparently a group of articles or stories that were printed in other media but I hadn't read any of them and I thought they flowed really well together. I am a fan of everything he has written and I was not disappointed by this. For anyone who is into stories about why writers write and why being a reader has such on affect on a person's life then this book will fit perfectly into your library. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 2/4/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book I find Pat Conroy's writing so beautiful - sometimes I re-read a sentence just because it is so lovely and descriptive. I was amazed at the extent of his reading and how it influenced his life and career. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean | 1/26/2014

    " Fun to read the thoughts of such an impassioned reader. I'll probaby reread his books now. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tina | 1/25/2014

    " I would have never discovered this book if it wasn't recommended to me. My Reading Life is a biography by Pat Conroy. Conroy shares his story of discovering books and a love for literature from a very young age. Throughout the book, he shares his favourite titles and talks about how these books have impacted him and his life. As I read, I kept thinking about how long a way I have to go to call myself well-read. I think it'll be interesting to re-read this book in the future when I feel more well-read. It'll probably mean more to me then. If you have a passion for reading and literature, I think you would really enjoy this book. Conroy is an extremely lyrical writer. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 1/22/2014

    " I loved this book. Might be a great one for any book club discussion. Wow, how books have affected Conroy's life is fascinating. I have read not one of the books he mentioned!! Yikes!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynn | 1/17/2014

    " I really enjoyed listening to this book read by Pat Conroy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/31/2013

    " Loving this book! For all who appreciate reading! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandra | 12/28/2013

    " I liked certain chapters a lot and made lots of notes, but some of the chapters were very much overwritten (if that is a word). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/7/2013

    " Story of how he came to write and how his vocabulary is so extensive. Broken into chapter stories, most of them are interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 11/28/2013

    " I love Pat Conroy--even his excesses! This book is a paean to the books and the bookish people who helped shape him. A great book for readers and for teachers--to remind us how our approaches and passions help shape life-long readers. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kilian Metcalf | 5/16/2013

    " Conroy puts into words all the feelings I have for libraries, books and reading over the years. A song of love for words and writers, this book touched me deeply. I recommend it to any avid readers and dare you not to respond to his passion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marge | 1/23/2013

    " A wonderful memoir! I love Conroy's writing. This book made me keenly aware of all the great books I haven't read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven | 1/16/2013

    " This was excellent. I think Conroy has become a much better nonfiction writer than he is with fiction these days. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tim | 12/4/2012

    " Sometimes an excellent book and other times it seemed flat. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kevin Jones | 11/27/2012

    " Personal look into a great writer's relationship with books and authors. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 9/23/2012

    " This was like visiting with a friend. I loved it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Herb | 8/7/2012

    " This was one of the absolute best books I have ever read. If you are interested in someone's love affair with books, written in some of the best English ever used and an absorbing story as well, then this is the book for you. A real page turner. I just loved it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janet Dansby | 5/1/2012

    " I am a fan of Pat Conroy. Enjoyed hearing about his reading and writing life. Impressive! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelly | 3/18/2012

    " Loved reading this after having recently read "The Great Santini." Conroy spoke at the Savannah Book Festival and mentioned he is writing a sequel to "Santini" and this book really shed light on the real life characters in Conroy's life. Can't wait! (Loved the Atlanta references as well.) "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Egm | 2/16/2012

    " couldn't really get into this. found my mind wandering frequently as i listened and could have easily stopped in middle without every continuing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Norfleete Day | 1/17/2012

    " Engaging. Drove me back to re-read some of Conroy's novels. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barb | 12/10/2011

    " He is a florid writer but that is what I love about him. I particularly loved his chapter on "Gone with the Wind" and why it is still an enduring novel even though it's nostalgic view of the antebellum South is repugnant to most modern day readers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 8/5/2011

    " Author of Prince of Tides and the Great Santini tells us how we got there. He talks of being influenced by his mother who read to him, checking out the most public library books in every town they lived in. Thomas Wolfe, James Dickey, the public library all contributed to his success. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann | 5/16/2011

    " I love this book. Mr. Conroy had me laughing, crying and savoring his beautiful words. He's my hero. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stanley | 5/15/2011

    " I am officially in love with Pat Conroy. Yes, with him and his skill at writing! Get this book! But be forewarned, you're gonna wanna read just about everything he talks about. We are so blessed to have a man like Pat Conroy in our midst. How did I miss him before? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jensen | 5/11/2011

    " Beautifully written I absolutely loved it!

    This is one of those books that make you go,"wow! How does he write like that?!"

    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ngaire | 5/11/2011

    " This was a truly fun read, possibly because I'm nosy and love finding out which books changed the worlds of my favorite writers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gizzard | 5/10/2011

    " Pretty good book, even though I can't read his fiction. I got a good laugh because he talks about how he is very wordy and dramatic- something his first publicist complained about. The same reasons I can't read him. Most of these essays were quite good though. Made me want to read War and Peace "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 5/10/2011

    " Another winner - I really love Pat Conroy's writing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jack | 5/2/2011

    " Thoughts on literature--reading and writing, with an emphasis on the people who made him aware of the art of language. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Barb | 5/1/2011

    " I could use this book as a reference to add to my pile of 'to reads' but I just wasn't that interested in this dude's life. Maybe if I'd been a fan of his other works (he's the author of Prince of Tides). I skimmed the last half of the book at best. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Willardjennifer | 4/25/2011

    " Wonderful essays on Conroy's love affair with literature as well as the people who inspired him. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Matt | 4/23/2011

    " An interesting background book on Pat Conroy's life. Not a compelling as his story telling in Prince of tides or Beach Music, his best books. I'd skip this one and read his novels. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann | 4/20/2011

    " Pat Conroy describes the books he has read, the influences on his life, the consequences of his writing choices, the absolute pleasure of reading. I'm inspired to reread my two favorite Conroy books - The Water is Wide and The Great Santini. What a great story teller. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lindsay | 4/17/2011

    " not my favorite. His language is way too flowery and he could edit out a great deal of descriptive language. Found myself skipping paragraphs and still finding he is describing the same thing. "

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About the Author
Author Pat Conroy

Donald Patrick “Pat” Conroy (1945–2016) was an American author of acclaimed novels and memoirs, two of which made it to #1 on New York Times bestsellers list: Beach Music and South of Broad. Four of his novels were made into major motion pictures: The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, Conrack, and The Lords of Discipline. The novel on which the movie Conrack was based, The Water Is Wide, won an NEA Human and Civil Rights Award and an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.