When I first began reading the novels of Pat Conroy in college as a requirement for English courses, I thought the task would be an overwhelming one. I’d heard other students talk about how difficult Conroy was to read. I quickly changed my mind when I became enraptured by one of his greatest novels, in my opinion, The Prince of Tides.
As I began reading My Reading Life, I realized that Conroy had interests in a wide variety of subjects. His love of books began with his love for animals and researching them in over-sized books that his mother would bring home from the library. He states that, “The world of books was set for me by the intellectual hunger of my mother.” By the time Conroy completed the fifth grade, he knew the name of nearly every mammal that existed in Africa.
In the beginning chapters, Conroy speaks about his family life and intertwines this with anecdotes from one of the many books he has not only read, but studied. I found this approach interesting, as he was able to recount childhood, adolescence, and teenage memories based on novels he had read during certain periods of his life. He also talks of the impact that some of the greatest authors who have ever lived have had on him, and his writing career. Some of the authors and books that stood out most to me were Shakespeare, Gone with the Wind, and Vanity Fair.
I’ve never read another book in which I had the opportunity to learn about and get to know an author the way I did in My Reading Life. As a writer myself, I was able to see where other authors get their inspiration and how they use experiences from other novels to shape their own stories. My Reading Life is truly a book that you can learn from. It not only got my thought processes going but it also inspired me; the way Conroy speaks about books he’s read inspired me to run out and find them for myself.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Nan A. Talese. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.