On the Way to Becoming an Authentic Reader

Not long before his death, the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas reflected, “My education consisted of the liberty to . . . read indiscriminately and all the time, with my eyes hanging out.” I confess, eyes still hanging out at age sixty-six, that it was likewise with me! And like Herman Melville, who dated his life from his first discriminately indiscriminate immersion in books, I date my intellectual and spiritual life—I’ve never made much distinction between the two—from the books I’ve read. I learned personal integrity, moral values, democracy, fair play, pluck, and the inevitable triumph of good over evil from my father’s many volumes of Horatio Alger, The Motor Boys, and Tom Swift; I learned inductive and deductive logic and courage (and almost everything I knew about women until I married the best of them) from my sister’s volumes of Nancy Dres and from my own accumulated volumes of the Hardy Boys; and I learned gridiron grit, moral courage, and prowess from those much-perused, hallowed tomes Touchdown to Victory, A Minute to Play, All-American, and Ros Hackney, Halfback. I humbly confess that which few know: I am Ros Hackney.

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