My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
Nan A. Talese • $25 • November 2, 2010


*Also known as the best Christmas present ever:


On Christmas Eve, I was thrilled to open this gift from my best friend--a personalized edition of Pat Conroy's My Reading Life! My friend lives in Charleston, SC, and anyone who loves Conroy knows that he lives in South Carolina, too. My friend braved the line at Blue Bicycle Books to buy me this wonderful keepsake. The inscription reads:

To Eliza, For the love of words, books will stay. Merry Christmas. What a great friend you have. Pat Conroy, 2010.

(Aww.)

You can read more about Conroy's love letter to books in our December print edition, for which BookPage contributor Alden Mudge interviewed Conroy about the pleasures of reading and collecting books. On the joy of having books in his home, Conroy said, "I love them. I like to handle them. I can look up from my desk and see walls and walls and walls of books. It’s an extraordinary beauty for me.”

Here's a preview of this book, which I've enjoyed cozily reading at home over the holidays:

I take it as an article of faith that the novels I've loved will live inside me forever. Let me call on the spirit of Anna Karenina as she steps out onto the train tracks of Moscow in the last minute of her glorious and implacable life. Let me beckon Madame Bovary to issue me a cursory note of warning whenever I get suicidal or despairing as I live out a life too sad by half. If I close my eyes I can conjure up a hwole country of the dead who will live for all time because writers turned them into living flesh and blood. There is Jay Gatsby floating face downward in his swimming pool or Tom Robinson's bullet-riddled body cut down in his Alabama prison yard in To Kill a Mockingbird.

What are you reading today?

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