The Brooklyn Eagle
December 23, 2011
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — “Reading is active, watching television is passive,”acclaimed novelist and essayist Pete Hamill told a standing-room-only crowd in St. Francis College’s Founders Hall, Dec. 1, as the 2011 speaker for the Thomas J. Volpe Lecture Series.
The legendary Brooklyn born journalist emphasized the importance of reading, shared stories of his life growing up in Brooklyn and discussed his travels abroad.
“It [reading] was essential to the making of my life … and essential to millions and millions and millions of my generation,”said Hamill. He explained that even though his family was poor he was not deprived because books such as Babar allowed him to experience a world outside of the “urban hamlet”he lived in. A chair, lamp and book were all he needed to time travel to any destination his imagination desired. “The reason to read doesn’t go away as we get older,”said Hamill. He encouraged the audience to make lists of books they should read or re-read, noting that life’s experiences often tend to change our insight on stories. After all, he questioned, who would want to reach the end of their lives and realize they never read Moby Dick?
Hamill added that in re-reading his copy of a book on Aristotle’s ethics, he now realizes, “how callow and young and arrogant I was when I was 21.”He said that he kept it to remind himself that you never stop learning. “I cherished that copy because I had underlined all the wrong stuff. The points that Aristotle was making I was missing.”
Hamill offered a great deal of advice to SFC students. He pointed out that reading enables individuals to develop a better understanding of human beings, urging students to use their talents to give a helping hand to those in need. He said that these talents enhance perspective and help us learn from one another, understanding both the visible and interior world.