Tag Archives: Roger W. Smith in which I take stock of myself considered as a reader

in which I take stock of myself considered as a reader


The following is the text of an email of mine from today to an academic with whom I have had contact periodically regarding literary scholarship. Her research interests are in the area of early twentieth century American literature.

— Roger W. Smith

  December 3, 2016



Thanks for the reply.

I am an independent scholar.

I didn’t even major in English.

Nevertheless, I did teach world literature and English composition as an adjunct professor for a while.

People, including academics, seem to be impressed with the depth and breadth of my reading.

I have always been a reader, most it and by far the best and most rewarding reading, was done independently.

Yet, I have never regarded myself as an omnivorous reader. I tend to consume books slowly and deliberately.

I have had friends who left me in the dust, so to speak, in terms of the depth and breadth of their reading and the level of difficulty of the works they have read.

In my haphazard, indiscriminate way, I do seem to have read a lot. A plus factor seems to be that I don’t waste my time on junk.

So, someone will mention a writer such as  Frank Norris, Sinclair Lewis, or Sherwood Anderson to me. I can claim to have read either a fair amount or a smattering, out of sheer interest. In the case of a writer such as Lewis, a lot.

I do continue to do indiscriminate reading, but it’s reading with a purpose. I seem to be developing a métier as an essayist. This has motivated me lately to want to read or reread the works of great essayists such as Milton, Samuel Johnson, Emerson, and Thoreau. I am just getting around to doing this, or trying to.

I am also trying to read writers who influenced Theodore Dreiser, such as Balzac, whom I know and love already but always wanted to read more of.