Latte Literature: Conroy’s My Reading Life

This is a story about good coffee and even better characters and how they came to life electronically.  The story begins with Rita Toews from Winnipeg, Canada, who created Read an E-Book Week that is now an international celebration.  From Sunday, March 6 to March 12, publishers, authors, retailers, and digital device makers offer thousands of original E-Books for free or at deep discounts.  Bibliophiles, this is the week to give digital devices a try.  Try it—you’ll like it.

With a light touch Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life literally springs to life on my iPad.   There on the screen, Conroy’s exquisite words carry me to The Old New York Book Store in Atlanta where I meet Cliff, the owner, and the “coffee man.”

The “coffee man” would come in once or twice a day to avail himself of the free coffee Cliff handed out to his customers.  Though the coffee man was addled and unwashed and homeless, he struck a curious figure with me.  He had a long key chain that he decorated with discarded bottle openers and house keys he would find as he searched through the trashcans of the city on his morning run.  Not once in the twenty years we knew him did he utter a word to Cliff or me, but his solitude intrigued both of us and we could never agree whether we were invisible to the coffee man or he was simply buried alive in his own private world.
If Cliff would allow it, he would sometimes consume a whole pot of coffee while standing guard at the coffee machine.
When he stopped appearing, Cliff and I assumed he was dead.  He was never heard from again.  On occasion, when drinking a cup of coffee together, Cliff and I toast the coffee man.

Pat Conroy doesn’t own any digital deices and until a year ago he was unaware that his books could be downloaded and enjoyed electronically. Conroy claims “Kindle holds no pleasure for me, and I will never own one.  Despite my enjoyment of reading on my iPad, I share Pat Conroy’s sentiment:  “I like the way they (books) look, I like the way they smell, I like the way they feel.”

Read an E-Book is just another way to enjoy books and coffee.



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