Michael Pearson

Reading Life

nonfiction
Adventures in books and the world
Nonfiction (travel)
"Pearson is a most companionable guide to take us worlds away." --Arthur Saltzman, author of Nearer: Essays
Fiction
Shohola Falls is a fever dream of a novel that brilliantly weaves past and present, fact and imagination to describe a young man’s quest for himself”
--Tom Kelly, author of Payback
Memoir
“Achingly American, a bittersweet elegy that echoes Thomas Wolfe and Jack Kerouac”
--Mike D’Orso, author of Like Judgment Day
Nonfiction/travel
“A wild travelogue told by a scholarly tour guide”
--The New Orleans Times Picayune
“A fascinating report on America”
--The Columbia S. C. State

Reading Life: On Books, Memory, and Travel

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A unique blend of memoir, literary appreciation, and travel narrative, Reading Life is a series of interrelated essays tracking the relationship between books and experience, dramatizing and reflecting on how stories lead us into the world, and how we transform that engagement with the world back into personal narrative. A love story about books and travel, Reading Life is, by turns, comic and serious. Chapters shift in tone—from a lyrical quality akin to Adam Gopnik’s to a tongue-in-cheek humor reminiscent of Ian Frazier’s. The book transports the reader from the high desert landscape of Cather’s New Mexico and the rocky coastline of E. B. White’s Maine to the pilgrimage paths of Cervantes’s Spain and the hallucinogenic heat of Bowles’s Morocco. At the heart of Reading Life is the belief that stories are vital to our existence. Pearson invokes the same spirit that Tim O’Brien did in The Things They Carried when he said, “Stories are for joining the past to the future… Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.” Books, like travel, compel us to venture into new worlds, to renew our acquaintance with old ones, and, ultimately, to learn how to see. Books are both window and mirror, allowing a view of something deep in us and a glimpse of some distant truth beyond what is familiar and known. Willie Morris, former editor of Harper’s, said, “Michael Pearson is one of our nation’s finest memoirists.”