By Italo Calvino
"Utterly magical," says Conroy about this 1972 novel by the late Italian author. "I first read Calvino's Baron in the Trees, and it utterly worked for me. Then I read this, and I think it's one of the greatest books I've ever read. Marco Polo has traveled to the realms of China to get to the court of Beijing. He is speaking to the emperor, trying to describe places to someone who has never seen and will never see them. He begins making up cities and stories. I thought the book was poetry: It has a looking-glass feel, a fun-house feel. I could not get enough of it. If you travel with Calvino's work any distance, if you just go with it, when you're done, you feel like you've been living inside a poem."
And making a difference to us: Pat Conroy's My Reading Life