I started reading his movie criticism some years ago. It was something of a revelation. TV made stars of him and of Gene Siskel, but in some ways didn't serve them well. The "two thumbs up" (or down, or variations thereof) which is their most remembered legacy was basically a pre-Internet tl;dr. Two friends talking is a good format, but the shows they did after leaving PBS had to deal with commercial breaks, which left their conversations choppy and incomplete.
And there was much to talk about, much to say. Ebert's reviews and essays show a man in love with film, yes, but not to the exclusion of all other things. He drew from older films, literature, history, and his own personal memories. And often he wove them into a beautiful tapestry. "Life's Rich Pageant", as REM might put it.