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The NFL's reigning MVP isn't likely to unseat book club queens Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon or Jenna Bush Hager anytime soon, but his Aaron Rodgers Book Club is rolling right along.
Each Tuesday during his appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show," the Green Bay Packers quarterback ends his segment by revealing a recommended book. An avid reader, Rodgers told McAfee he started thinking about the idea after Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling asked him for a starter pack of recommended reads during training camp.
His inaugural book club pick, "The Alchemist," got a retweet from its author. Rodgers has said he's heard from others who have thanked him for talking about reading.
"We need more people reading and (less) people spending time sitting on their ass watching TV and other bull----," he said on the show.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) September 7, 2021
Brown County Library, which has nine locations in greater Green Bay, has noticed an uptick in interest in the titles Rodgers has recommended to date, particularly since October, said Susan Lagerman, the library's community engagement manager. Several of the titles are checked out and others have waiting lists, she said.
Rodgers, who told McAfee he has a stack of 30 books he wants to get to, reads mostly nonfiction and leans toward philosophical, spiritual and self-help titles. He plans to choose 18 books through the season.
All proceeds from the sale of Aaron Rodgers Book Club T-shirts through McAfee's online merchandise store will be donated to a reading advocacy program of Rodgers' choice.
Here's a breakdown of his picks so far:
That's a wrap on the 2021 book club
Like the Packers season, the 2021 Aaron Rodgers Book Club has also ended. During his Jan. 25 appearance on the "The Pat McAfee Show," Rodgers said he felt his 16 picks over the last five months made for a "full and complete" list and didn't offer a final recommendation.
He did, however, hint there could be another chapter in the book club.
"In a hypothetical world where things fall back into place, and we end up doing this again ... definitely expanding on the book club and finding some more organizations to help in encouraging reading advocacy would be pretty awesome, too," Rodgers said.
An announcement will be forthcoming on how much money has been raised from book club T-shirt sales throughout the season, with profits going to a reading advocacy group of Rodgers' choosing, McAfee said.
Book club bye weeks
The Packers have a first-round bye in the playoffs, which means Rodgers is taking a break from his book club. No pick on Jan. 11. There was also no pick on Jan. 18.
"The Subtle Art of Not Giving a (expletive): A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life" by Mark Manson
Recommended on: Jan. 4 (before the Packers' last game of the regular season). Note: The book's actual title contains the F-word.
Quick summary: In his 2016 self-help book about finding what's most important in your life and letting go of everything else, Manson encourages readers to limit exposure to distractions such as social media, TV and technology and change what you value or how you measure success and failure. Kirkus Reviews calls it an "in-your-face guide to living with integrity and finding happiness in sometimes-painful places" and "a good yardstick by which self-improvement books should be measured."
Rodgers' take: "It's not about indifference or not giving a (expletive) about anything," Rogers said. "It's actually just giving a (expletive) about less things and focusing on the things that really matter in your life and not getting bogged down or swamped by things that ultimately don't really matter. There's a lot of wisdom in this book. It's a book for anybody."
For those with an aversion to profanity, it might not be for you, Rodgers said, as the F-word pops up throughout the book.
"The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse" by Charlie Mackesy
Recommended on: Dec. 28
Quick summary: Published in 2019, the 128-page book quickly showed up on assorted bestsellers lists as a heartfelt, uplifting read for all ages. It's not so much a story as it is a collection of whimsical illustrations and musings about a lonely boy who finds friendship with the animals in the title while wandering the countryside. Through their conversations, they offer life lessons, advice and encouragement. Mackesy, a British illustrator and cartoonist, described it as “a small graphic novel of images with conversation, over landscape.”
Rodgers' take: He received it as a Christmas present and read its "little nuggets of wisdom" in a matter of minutes. "This is probably my favorite book of the calendar year," he said, calling it "a really sweet book about friendship."
A Christmas vacation?
Rodgers didn't offer a pick on Dec. 21.
"The Razor's Edge" by W. Somerset Maugham
Recommended on: Dec. 14 (after Rodgers continued his ownership of the Chicago Bears with a 45-30 win for "Sunday Night Football" at Lambeau Field)
Quick summary: The novel sold more than 3 million copies and spent nearly a year on the bestseller list when it was first published in 1944. It follows a young American who returns home from World War I traumatized by his experiences and at odds with his values before the war. He decides to leave his conventional life and travel the world studying philosophy and religion. His spiritual odyssey eventually takes him to India. The Oscar-nominated 1946 movie of the same name stars Tyrone Power. Bill Murray plays the lead in the 1984 film adaptation.
Rodgers' take: A rare fiction pick for Rodgers, it was recommended to him by a longtime friend. "It's about a guy who goes out in search of truth and meaning," said Rodgers, who read it during the Packers' bye week.
"The Answer Is ... Reflections on My Life" by Alex Trebek
Recommended on: Dec. 7 (after the Packers bye week, which gave Rodgers a chance to grab the book when he was back home in California)
Quick summary: When legendary "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek announced in March 2019 he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, he was so touched by the outpouring of well wishes he started to write his memoir. The book offers personal anecdotes about his life and career, his thoughts on marriage, success, spirituality and philanthropy, behind-the-scenes snippets about the show and insights on some of the game's greatest players. The vignettes are doled out in short chapters, each with a title in the form of a question. The 304-page book was released in July 2020, just a few months before Trebek's death on Nov. 8, 2020, at age 80.
Rodgers' take: "This one is very meaningful to me." said Rodgers, whose love of the game show and respect for Trebek is well documented. He grew up watching, met Trebek when he competed on "Celebrity Jeopardy!" in 2015 and was among the celebrities who guest hosted this year after Trebek's death. He was given the book by the show when he hosted and read it before his 10 episodes aired.
"Alex was such an important part of so many people's lives. You felt like family, because for me in Wisconsin from 6 to 6:30 on Channel 11 was 'Jeopardy!', and so when somebody is a part of your life every single day for so many years you feel this affinity to them, a closeness," he said. "... Anyone who loves 'Jeopardy!' and that was an important nostalgic part of their life, you're going to love this book."
Book club bye week
Like the Packers, the Aaron Rodgers Book Club is enjoying a bye week. Rodgers skipped his pick on Nov. 30 and thanked people who have sent books to him at Lambeau Field. "So many that I've gotten, no way I can even get to them with the stack that I've got," he said.
He plans to get in some reading during the week off, which also includes his 38th birthday on Dec. 2, and resume book club duties on Dec. 7.
"Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office" by Brian Baumgartner and Ben Silverman
Recommended on: Nov. 23 (with a painful toe and after losing a close game to the Minnesota Vikings in a wild finish)
Quick summary: "The Office's" Brian Baumgartner, who played Kevin Malone, and executive producer Ben Silverman did hundreds of hours of interviews with the cast and creators of the TV sitcom to put together what is being billed as "the untold inside story of 'The Office.'" Published on Nov. 16, it boasts 464 pages of favorite stories and memories of the show from Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Ricky Gervais, Rainn Wilson, Kate Flannery, Ed Helms and others, as well as 100 behind-the-scenes photographs.
Rodgers' take: His picks to date haven't been exactly light reading, but it's hardly a surprise that a new book about one of his all-time favorite shows, authored by Baumgartner, who is both "a dear friend" of Rodgers and a fan of the Packers, would be the title to get him to change things up.
"'The Office' helped me get through COVID. I mean I watched it two more times from the beginning to end during 2020," Rodgers said.
Baumgartner sent him the book last week, and he has not yet finished it, but, as he has done in countless interviews over the years, Rodgers talked about being a fan of both the British and American versions of "The Office" and dropped a mention of his cameo in 2013. Let's not forget the T-shirt Rodgers wore for his much-buzzed-about return to training camp this year — the one that features the "Kevin's Famous Chili" scene from Episode 98.
"Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth's Lost Civilization" by Graham Hancock
Recommended on: Nov. 16 (after the Packers shut out the Seattle Seahawks 17-0 in Rodgers' return after getting COVID-19)
Quick summary: Hancock uses archaeoastronomy, geology and computer analysis of ancient myths and monuments to suggest mankind could be older than previously believed, contending that an enigmatic, ancient, advanced civilization existed in prehistory. The book was first published in 1995 and followed by a second edition, "Fingerprints of the Gods: The Quest Continues," in 2001.
Rodgers' take: He heard about Hancock on "The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast and has become a fan.
"He's a fascinating guy. I mean he's been all over the world doing research. He's like a modern-day Indiana Jones. But anybody that loves history and kind of maybe rewriting some of what we learned growing up based on his incredible research and decades and decades of studying lost civilizations and the history of civilizations, it's a phenomenal book."
"The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living" by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
Recommended on: Nov. 9 (during his quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19).
Quick summary: Published in 2016, the daily devotional features 12 principles for overcoming obstacles and achieving greater satisfaction. A short passage for each day offers practical translations of Stoic insights from Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca, Zeno and others for guidance in happiness, success, resilience and virtue.
Holiday, a New York Times best-selling author, also hosts the "The Daily Stoic" podcast. In December 2020, Rodgers' former girlfriend, Danica Patrick, had Holiday as a guest on her "Pretty Intense" podcast.
Rodgers' take: "I thought it was perfect this week to put this book up. It's one that I look at every single day." It was recommended to him by a friend a while ago, he said. "It's just things to think about that can elicit some thought or meditation."
"Yeah, it also helps potentially if the whole world is attacking you," McAfee said, referencing the backlash by some to Rodgers' comments about his unvaccinated status during a Nov. 5 appearance on the show.
"Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell
Recommended on: Nov. 2 (the week of the first Rodgers vs. Patrick Mahomes matchup)
Quick summary: A 2008 book about what makes people who are the most successful — from The Beatles to Bill Gates to hockey players — such high achievers, with a focus on their family, upbringing, culture, generation and even their birthdays. "Outliers are those who have been given opportunities — and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them," Gladwell writes. A former journalist with The Washington Post and The New Yorker, he's known for his clear writing style.
Rodgers' take: "His research is so dense, and it's phenomenal to see the interesting associations he makes with successful people and what they do similarly." Don't let the density of the information and data scare you off. "I don't think it's a difficult read," Rodgers said. "I think he's a phenomenal writer, but he doesn't write over your head."
Rodgers has also read Gladwell's first two books: "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" and "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking."
"The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment" by Eckhart Tolle
Recommended on: Oct. 26 (two days before the Packers take on the undefeated Arizona Cardinals)
Quick summary: Tolle, a German-born spiritual teacher, on how living in the now offers the truest path to happiness and a harmonious life. He wrote the manual in response to questions asked of him in seminars, meditation classes and private counseling sessions. For that reason, it uses a question-and-answer format. Chapters cover such topics as creative use of mind, inner body, enlightened relationships and state of presence. After certain passages, a pause symbol encourages readers to take a break, be still and think about what they read.
Rodgers' take: "It's a fantastic book for anybody interested in what a spiritual practice looks like, how to better understand their mind, how to quiet your mind, mindfulness." If you liked Rodgers' earlier pick, "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass, you might like this one. He said they're quite similar.
"The Art of War" by Sun Tzu
Recommended on: Oct. 19 (two days after the "I still own you" Packers-Chicago Bears game)
Quick summary: Written more than 2,000 years ago in ancient China, it's the first known study of the planning and conduct of military operations, but its reach extends beyond battlefield maneuvers to business, politics and personal conflicts. Among the classic's famed quotes: “It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy."
Rodgers' take: "It's a book that I think most great leaders have read at some point ... A lot of great wisdom in here and one-liners that you can use in your life and in press conferences down the road as well and in speeches to your team when you're trying to fire up the boys."
"You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why It Matters" by Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
Recommended on: Oct. 12
Quick summary: Chopra, world-renowned as an author and speaker on integrative medicine and personal transformation, teams up with physicist Menas Kafatos to explore questions about time, space, the universe and humans' place in it.
Rodgers' take: He just finished reading the 2017 book and admits it's "a super dense book" with "some crazy concepts." At 288 pages, it's also one of the longer books he has chosen.
"The Four Agreements" by don Miguel Ruiz
Recommended on: Oct. 5
Quick summary: First published in 1997, the long-running New York Times bestseller explores four agreements people can make with themselves to find happiness and freedom. They are: Be impeccable with your word; don't take anything personally; don't make assumptions; and always do your best. Winfrey has heralded the book three times on her television shows, in 2000, 2001 and 2013, resulting in huge sales spikes each time.
Rodgers' take: It's his go-to title when someone hits him up for a self-help book recommendation. It's a simple read at 140 pages and one he thinks everyone can relate to, especially the agreement about not to take things personally.
"I think that's the motivation for most comments on social media," Rodgers said. "Somebody has said something and then somebody takes it personally and then they have to fire back."
"Be Here Now' by Ram Dass
Recommended on: Sept. 28
Quick summary: A 1971 book that offers guidance on meditation, yoga and finding your true self from the famed guru of the spiritual movement in America. It took off during the hippie movement in the '70s, offering readers a way to find peace, calmness and higher states of consciousness without psychedelics and delivering the ultimate message to live in the present.
Rodgers' take: "It's a good intro book, I think, for anybody interested in needing inspiration on their journey to a new type of spirituality. Some incredible quotes in here and a book that really meant a lot to me."
Honorary mention: It's not an official ARBC selection, but Rodgers did give a shoutout to "Chuck Norris Cannot Be Stopped: 400 All-New Facts About the Man Who Knows Neither Fear Nor Mercy" by Ian Spector, mostly because he ran across a copy on his home bookshelf.
"The Giver" by Lois Lowry
Recommended on: Sept. 21
Quick summary: The American young adult novel follows 12-year-old Jonas in a society that at first appears to be utopian but is later revealed to be dystopian as the haunting story goes on. It won the 1994 Newbery Medal, awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year.
Rodgers' take: "This book was on reading lists when I was growing up. It still stands up. It's, in my opinion, super relatable to what we're going through as a society now." Rodgers has read it four times.
"Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman" by Jon Krakauer
Recommended on: Sept. 14
Quick summary: The story of the Arizona Cardinals safety who gave up a $3.6 million contract after 9/11 to enlist in the U.S. Army and become an Army Ranger. Sent first to Iraq and then Afghanistan, Tillman was killed in 2004 by friendly fire, the details of which were kept from his family and the American public for several weeks after his death.
Rodgers' take: "One of my legitimate all-time favorites by an author who I have read many, many of his books."
Rodgers said he has given the book away so many times for others to read that he had to run to Barnes & Noble to pick up a copy for the segment.
"The best part about it is learning more about Pat Tillman, and Pat, which I didn't know, he's a deep thinker and, like myself, kind of grew up in and around the church but at some point really dove into Eastern religions and meditation and philosophy and journaling. He was a very curious guy and he had a lot of interests outside of football."
"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho
Recommended on: Sept. 7
Quick summary: First published in 1988, the international bestseller by the Brazilian author tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest ends up taking him to riches of a different kind. No. 70 on the list of 100 most-loved books from PBS' "The Great American Read," it offers lessons about listening to your heart, recognizing opportunity and following your dreams.
Rodgers' take: "One of my all-time favorite books, and it's an easy book, and it's fiction, which, I don't read a lot of fiction, but it's been around for a long, long time."
Rodgers, who just finished reading it again during training camp, highlighted some of his favorite excerpts with a blue marker — something he often does with books he reads.
Contact Kendra Meinert at 920-431-8347 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KendraMeinert.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Aaron Rodgers Book Club ends for season; Rodgers hints at expanding it