Pat Conroy is one of my favorite authors with bestselling titles like The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, The Great Santini, and South of Broad among several others. His latest is called My Reading Life (Doubleday, 2010). It is one of those books that makes me ashamed of my own reading life.
Conroy's mother taught him to be a considerable reader and he has continued to read through his adult life. He mentions many of his favorite classics and favorite poets and life changing poetry that has propelled his writing life to the level it is today. As with all of his writings, he truly has perfected the skills of making words sing. Conroy has learned to write like he does because of the reading he has done.
Surprises include how much the book Gone with the Wind meant to his mother. And, Conroy admits he is not good at keeping journals but writes that he has kept journals of words that have caught his attention. He talks about his relationship with his mother and his father whom he has professed to hate most of his young life.
It is a great read except for the guilt factor that comes with the book. I would love to be the kind of reader he describes himself to be. I have read a number of classics but I have to admit that the contemporary writers of today appeal to me more than those of decades ago. Conroy has learned to perfect his craft through his reading which is something any writer should aspire to do.