Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review: My Reading Life

Summary: Pat Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is also a vora­cious reader. He has for years kept a notebook in which he notes words or phrases, just from a love of language. But read­ing for him 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.

My Reading Life, Conroy revisits a life of passionate reading. He includes wonderful anecdotes from his school days, mov­ing accounts of how reading pulled him through dark times, and even lists of books that particularly influenced him at vari­ous stages of his life, including grammar school, high school, and college. Readers will be enchanted with his ruminations on reading and books, and want to own and share this perfect gift book for the holidays. And, come graduation time, My Reading Life will establish itself as a perennial favorite, as did Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! -- Nan A. Talese/Doubleday

I was so excited when I found out that one of my favorite authors Pat Conroy was writing a book about his love of reading titled MY READING LIFE. I had a feeling that I'd appreciate discovering what books he holds close to his heart, and I always enjoy reading his prose. I figured this was the book for me!

And in some ways, MY READING LIFE was exactly what I had hoped for; however, I have to admit that for the most part, this book didn't live up to my expectations. (Of course, my expectations were so high that it probably wasn't fair to begin with!) I felt that it was an okay read and I'm definitely glad that I read it because I did get some insight into Mr. Conroy. I just didn't love it like I had hoped.

MY READING LIFE is basically Pat Conroy's life in books. He talks about many of the special people in his life and how they influenced him. There are also some parts about his tempestuous relationship with his father which I found interesting yet tragic. He also shared some stories about his mother, librarian, teacher, and friends and how their love of reading affected his life. I think I most enjoyed those specific chapters, but the one about his high school teacher was my favorite by far -- it actually brought tears to my eyes. It was apparent just how much this man meant to Mr. Conroy and I loved how he paid tribute to him in such a beautiful way.

MY READING LIFE would make a very interesting (and very unique) book club experience. I can't say that I actually thought about it as a book club selection while I was reading it, but once I saw the reading guide, I realized that it would be a great book to discuss. Some of the topics you  might want to further explore include how (and what) books influenced Mr. Conroy's life as well as his writing and how books influence your own life. In addition, you could discuss the value of rereading books and discussing them with friends!

Overall, I feel that MY READING LIFE is a worthwhile read for fans of Pat Conroy as well as book lovers. It just wasn't my favorite book of the year.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.


Veens said...

I have been meaning to read this author! In the new Year, I am hoping to :)

rhapsodyinbooks said...

The way you reacted is kind of like how I reacted to reading a similar kind of book by Herman Wouk. I think they are mostly for very big fans of such authors, and even then, you somehow want it to be as good as their STORIES, but of course they can't be I suppose because they are real life!

bermudaonion said...

I heard an interview of Pat Conroy and he spoke of that high school teacher. I wish more people would realize how much they do influence young people. I've lowered my expectations after your review, so maybe I'll like this one more than you did.

diaryofaneccentric said...

Sounds worth checking out even though you didn't love it. I think I'm more likely to peruse it, rather than read the whole thing. I've never read this author, though.

Beth F said...

I just barely looked at this review because I have this to read and I don't want to be too influence. Regardless of love or like or expectations, I can't wait to read this. After having read his Lords of Discipline, I've become a fan.

Sandy Nawrot said...

One of my favorite books of all time is Beach Music (and I love his others as well) so I got really excited about this one. I got it on audio, and after about a half of a disc, I had to quit. He is narrating it himself, and he is not much fun to listen to. I thought I would cry!!! I will try again later, but if it still falls flat, I may have to just read it in print.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

A lot of people have been saying they wanted to love this book but could only like it. A bit of a bummer because Pat Conroy was one of my first loves in high school with The Prince of Tides. :)

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I won this book on Pop Culture Nerd's site -- I'm looking forward to reading it, but I'm a bit hesitant. I'm just going to throw caution to the wind!

Jan said...

It is probably the most beautifully written and impacting book I have read in a long, long time.