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.
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:
“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.”
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“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.