Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#28: My Reading Life (Pat Conroy)

on December 6, 2012

I really enjoy getting a glimpse into the reading practices of authors and influential people. That’s what drew me to My Reading Life. Author Pat Conroy tells of his earliest experiences with Gone with the Wind at his mother’s knee, his growing love affair with books as a means of escaping his father’s abuse, and his journey learning to write by reading great literature.  Conroy holds a special place in his heart for the teachers, bookstore owners, and publishing representatives who have shaped his love for reading.  He is passionate about great poetry as well as Russian literature.

Rather than attempting to summarize everything I took away from this memoir, I think it would be more appropriate to share one of my favorite passages.  Conroy tells of the role his mother played in making him a reader.  In many ways, his description of his mother reminds me of my mother’s gentle encouragement to read more and more.

“My mother turned me into an insatiable, fanatical reader. It was her gentle urging, her hurt, insistent voice, that led me to discover my identity by taking a working knowledge of the great books with me always.  She wanted me to read everything of value, and she taught me to outread my entire generation, as she had done hers.  I believe, and I think fairly, that I have done that — that I have not only outread my own generation of writers but outread them in such a way that whole secret libraries separate us.  I have tried to read two hundred pages every day of my life since I was a freshman in high school, because I knew that I would come to the writing of books without the weight of culture and learning that a well-established, confidently placed family could offer its children.  I collected those long, melancholy lists of the great books that high school English teachers passed out to college-bound students, and I relied on having consumed those serious litanies of books as a way to ease my way into the literary life.” (Conroy, p. 195)

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