One Saturday, my uncle asked me what book I was reading. I said, “Oh no, I don’t read books.”
Slightly agitated, he said, “You don’t read books? Why not?”
“Oh they’re just not my thing. They’re boring.”
“They may be boring at times, but I believe everybody should have a book they’re in the middle of reading.”
He looked at me with a skeptical eye, “Okay, there’s a book that I want you to read. I really think you’ll like it.”
“What is it?”
“It’s called On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I think you’d relate to it.”
“Okay, I’ll read this book…for you. Then I’ll tell you what I think of it afterwards.”
“Okay, that’s perfect.”
My days were free so I opened up the book and started reading. The writing was weird but I kept reading and actually started to like it. The main character was a guy who traveled across America, something I had just done. I read the book day and night until I finished. I told my uncle I enjoyed it. I wanted to read more, but only quality books.
Barely having any money, I went to the public library nearby and got a card. Skimming the books, I noticed The Autobiography of Malcom X by Alex Hayley. I knew Malcolm X was badass and thought it would be an interesting story. So I checked it out.
The story was so real, like I was standing right next to him during his experiences. At one point, he went to jail for a few years. Instead of wasting his time though, he read every book he could get his hands on. At that moment, I felt like Malcolm X. In Evanston I didn’t know anybody, barely had any money, and didn’t have a job. What I did have though was a library card. And for the rest of the summer I tried to be like Malcolm X, reading whatever I could get my hands on.
This was my initiation into reading as an athlete.