Book Mini-Review: My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
"Books contained powerful amulets that could lead to paths of certain wisdom. Novels taught her everything she needed to know about the mysteries and uncertainties of being human. She was sure that is she could find the right book, it would reveal what was necessary for her to become a woman of substance and parts."
I have loved Pat Conroy’s writing ever since high school. I think I’ve read all of his fiction, but am still working through his memoirs. My Reading Life is a look back on how reading impacted not only his writing, but his whole life. My favorite novel of Conroy's is Beach Music, but The Prince of Tides is a close second.
I loved reading about his mother’s history with literature. She never went to college, but she made it a priority to read everything she could get her hands on and read the same books Pat and her other children read in school. I just admire the fact that Peg Conroy made reading such a priority in her own life and her children’s lives. One of Peg's favorite books was Gone With The Wind. Conroy's essay on the book was particularly interesting. Gone With The Wind is one of the quintessential classic Southern books, but it is hard to rectify that glorified version of the South with the actual South. Conroy points out that even though the novel was (and still is) controversial, you get swept away in the story and have to know what will happen to Tara.
The story of Conroy’s high school English teacher, Mr. Norris, was incredible. I love that one teacher made that much of an impact on Conroy, and his entire life changed. I had several phenomenal teachers, but I have not kept up with them like Pat did with Mr. Norris. It says so much that they stayed in touch for so many years, and even after Conroy became a successful, famous writer, he still granted favors to Mr. Norris.
I really enjoyed reading about The Old New York Book Shop in Atlanta. Living in Atlanta now, I am really bummed that it is no longer in business. It seems like it was a lovely place, a wonderful community for readers. I liked the quirky relationship between Pat, the poster child for Southern fiction, and Cliff, the Jewish New York transplant owner. What a great place for a writer to grow and be inspired. Also, Michael Jackson stopped by there once, so that's pretty cool. I am now itching to read some of the contemporary Atlanta writers that The Old New York Book Shop hosted parties for, like Anne Rivers Siddons and Terry Kay.
I love Pat Conroy’s fiction, so I liked reading about how and which books made such an impression on his life and his writing. I will definitely be reading his other memoirs, but I will always be sad that we will never get another Conroy novel. I give My Reading Life 4 stars.
What other memoirs about reading do you enjoy?