Reading about Reading

I love books about books.  This past year, I not only enjoyed reading several of Pat Conroy’s books, but I especially enjoyed his book about his own readings.

My Reading Life–Conroy’s rich descriptions and unusual tales about his reading experiences.

My Reading Life is an enjoyable book.  Conroy tells of his own reading experiences, favorite books, book store adventures, and contacts with fellow authors and literary folks.  Sometimes, he is too rough around the edges (and not just the edges), but Conroy is a master stylist and a powerful wordsmith.  I often have to slow down and read his prose slowly just to hear the poetry in it.

I bought a copy of My Reading Life this past summer at a Half Price Bookstore in Dallas (guided there by my friend Kent Travis).  At some point, after I finished the book, Nick carried it off to Wheaton where it remains.

About a month ago, I found another copy of the book.  It was ‘like new.’  The only thing that was not ‘like new’ was the price–$2–for a hardback book.  It is always useful to have a second copy of a good book, so I bought it.

Today, I took that copy to my classroom so that I could read about Conroy’s experience in being coaxed into reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  I opened the book, turning to the title page, and then nearly passed out.


I showed each student in the class the autograph and then walked out in the hall and yelled, “This is amazing.”  What a day! What a blessing!

That could be my copy of a Conroy book that he is signing!

4 thoughts on “Reading about Reading

  1. A treasure! I love making wonderful discoveries like that. I had a similar experience earlier this year with a Q book that I’d forgotten I had. So fantastic!

    • I also enjoyed Pat Conroy’s book. On the tip from your recommended books to read, I listened to an MP3 recording. The stories of the people who inspired him to read ( his mother, a teacher, a book company sales rep) were particularly moving. Speaking of finding good used books, at an estate sale this past Saturday I paid $1 for a 1945 hardback edition of Understanding Poetry by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren. I am working my way through this 650+ pages of poetry anthology that includes Brooks’ and Warren’s analysis of concrete examples of the elements of poetry. On Amazon, there are later paperback editions that are selling for more than $150.
      While we are on the subject of finding good used books: A friend of mine who tired of me complaining about not being able to find a copy of your Punic Wars and Culture Wars at a garage sale or thrift store, bought a new copy and gave it to me. I have been slowly reading it and am about half way through it. I appreciate the autobiographical tone as it roughly reflects my own timeline. I marvel at how God showered someone with so many rich and profound influences in a mean place and a time when they were so scarce and obscure. You are a blessed man.
      Question: I am eyeing a recent publication by Ignatius Press by Christopher Dawson entitled The Formation of Christendom. I do not find a reference in your book to this title. Could this possibly be a repackaging of his The Making of Europe, or is it a formerly unpublished work?

      • Troy,
        I would have gladly sent you a copy of Punic Wars and Culture Wars. But at least you have a copy.

        Ignatius Press reprinted The Formation of Christendom and The Dividing of Christendom. Both were originally published by Sheed and Ward. Ignatius Press, Catholic University Press, and Intercollegiate Studies Institute have all reprinted Dawson titles.

        I did not include Formation of Christendom because I did not have it at that time. I have acquired about 5 Dawson titles since my book came out. Some are originals, some reprints.

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