Q&A: Cal football’s Patrick Laird on reading, forgoing Fortnite, and how he celebrates touchdowns

Patrick Laird loves to read.

His passion for books even seeps onto the gridiron: The Cal running back has been known to turn the pages of an imaginary book in celebration after scoring a touchdown. (Laird’s pretend book is a physical volume, not an e-reader, he said. He likes to read a hard copy.)

Out of his lifelong passion for reading, Laird’s Summer Reading Challenge was born. Aimed at kids from first through sixth grades, the initiative encourages children to read four to six books (depending on their grade level) during the summer to help fight the effects of what is known as “summer learning loss.” Kids who successfully meet that goal receive four free tickets to Cal’s opening game on Saturday, against the University of North Carolina.

Laird — a double major in political science and business administration — took part in the challenge, too. In fact, he’s is aiming to finish his eighth book of the summer by game day. His favorite book he read this summer is Michael Lewis’ The Undoing Project, which explores the birth of the behavioral economics movement. (Laird recently met the Moneyball author. “It was awesome,” he said. “You could tell right away why he’s so successful at telling stories — because he’s really curious.”)

One possible reason Laird can fit so much reading into his busy schedule?

“All my friends play video games,” he said. “They’re all about Fortnite, but I don’t even have a video game console, so I think that helps me out.”

We asked Laird — a newly minted member of the Library Board — five questions, ranging in topic from football to hip-hop to, of course, reading.

Watch our video to find out what he said.