In an effort to get people to “read more, TV less,” Aaron Rodgers is bringing back his book club for another season.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback and avid reader introduced his first title, “The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship” by don Miguel Ruiz, on his weekly Tuesday appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.”
He also announced that he’ll match the $100,000 raised by the club last season from the sale of $25 Aaron Rodgers Book Club T-shirts and other contributions with a $100,000 donation of his own. The money will go to reading advocacy groups. The names of those partnering organizations will be announced soon, Rodgers said.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) September 20, 2022
First rule of Aaron Rodgers Book Club 2.0: You don’t have to read the recommended title before the next book is revealed the following week.
Rodgers clarified, primarily for the benefit of McAfee, that it’s not a “one-week book club.” He’s simply highlighting books he loves. There are no quizzes, no discussions the next week. In other words, no pressure. Readers can take all year to tackle the list.
“We’ve got to inspire people to read," Rodgers said. "What are we talking about? We’re talking about 16 or 17 books over 52 weeks. That’s one book every three weeks.”
Rodgers, whose “Pat McAfee” segments are done with his own bookcase as a backdrop, has been inundated with book recommendations from friends and strangers since he launched the inaugural Aaron Rodgers Book Club last September and showcased 16 titles.
“In the last year, I’ve probably stacked up a hundred books that I didn’t pay for that were sent to me, that were gifted to me. Some of them are like local writers ... Some are friends who are sending stuff in. Some people I haven’t talked to in a long time. Some are random fans.”
He hasn’t cracked those books yet, because he has his own stack of 20 titles he’s trying to get through. He said he usually has two or three books going at the same time. Sometimes it’s just picking up a quick read and knocking out 10 pages at a time. On other occasions, like when he's on a plane or when he has significant downtime, he reaches for a 400-page title.
“Instead of bingeing a show, you want to read a book,” he said.
We’ll keep a running list here of his recommendations throughout the season for everybody who wants to read along.
There were no book picks on Nov. 15 during the short week between the Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans games or on Oct. 18 after the Packers' loss to the New York Jets.
Book 9: 'Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions' by Russell Brand
Recommended on: Nov. 29
Quick summary: Brand is the British comedian and actor known for his work in such films as "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Get Him to the Greek" and "Rock of Ages," his political activism and a past marriage to singer Katy Perry. In his 2017 book, he writes of his own struggles with addiction, including heroin when in his 20s. He entered rehab in 2002 and marked the 19th anniversary of his sobriety in December 2021. The book shares advice from what he learned during his years of recovery.
Excerpt: “This manual for self-realization comes not from a mountain but from the mud ... My qualification is not that I am better than you but I am worse.”
Why Rodgers like it: "I enjoy listening to him. He says a lot of things that make you think and encourages you to do kind of your own research and stuff, but I do enjoy kind of his openness and honesty," Rodgers said. "... He's on that list of like five or 10 people you'd love to have dinner with at some point, just because I find him interesting and enjoy how thought-provoking he can be. I also think he's a really good writer."
Book 8: 'Into the Wild' by Jon Krakauer
Recommended on: Nov. 22
Quick summary: It tells the true story of Christopher Johnson McCandless, a young man from a well-to-do family who gave away his savings, abandon his possessions, hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness in 1992. The book was made into a 2007 movie by Sean Penn, with Emile Hirsch starring as McCandless.
Why Rodgers likes it: Krakauer is arguably his favorite author (he recommended his "Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman" for his 2021 book club), and as good as the movie is, Rodgers said he prefers the book. For those unfamiliar with either, he warns of "a rough ending."
Book 7: 'Love Wins' by Rob Bell
Recommended on: Nov. 8
Quick summary: The 2011 New York Times bestseller from Bell, a former pastor who founded Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, is subtitled "A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived." In it, he addresses the afterlife and offers an introduction to some of the questions of Jesus' life and message. "Claiming that some versions of Jesus should be rejected, particularly those used to intimidate and inspire fear or hatred, Bell persuasively interprets the Bible as a message of love and redemption," writes Publishers Weekly.
Why Rodgers likes it: Rodgers called Bell a friend but didn't offer much in the way of insight into the book. "Rob is a fascinating writer. Love his writing style ... Fascinating human. Super bright, genius guy," Rodgers said.
Book 6: 'The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross' by John Marco Allegro
Recommended on: Nov. 1
Quick summary: Published in 1970 by the late English archaeologist and Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, the subtitle describes it as "a study of the nature and origins of Christianity within the fertility cults of the ancient Near East." Among Allegro's arguments is that Jesus was a mythological creation of early Christians under the influence of psychedelic mushroom extracts.
Why Rodgers likes it: "It tests the Bible a little bit. This guy spent decades interpreting the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in that interpretation, he comes up with a hypothesis about the Bible and what it was really written for and about. And it's interesting," Rodgers said. "I think it's important to read information and books that test our own initial feelings on things. To live in a world where we just confirm our own bias all the time, or we live in an echo chamber, it doesn't really allow us to grow at all ..."
Book 5: 'Healing' by David Elliott
Recommended on: Oct. 25
Quick summary: The biography on his website describes Elliott as an author, teacher and healer. Rodgers referred to him as a "wizard." The book offers personal stories from Elliott's 20 years of helping people heal their fears and negative beliefs as well as instruction and guidance for the reader to develop their own healing abilities through breath work, meditations, written exercises and diagrams.
Quote from the author: "My primary work as a healer is to remind and reconnect people to the power of love. Self-love is the starting point for anyone seeking healing in their life."
Why Rodgers likes it: "I highlight this because he's a great human and also because I thought it was apropos for today as we kind of get out there a little bit and get a little worried about the (Packers) season getting away from us. Let's just take a couple of breaths here, take a beat, and re-center and calm ..." Rodgers said.
He encouraged anyone frustrated by the Packers' 3-4 record to take a deep breath and exhale "all the negativity and the spite and the vitriol aimed at me and Matt (LaFleur) and all of our players. Breathe that in and then let's exhale it out, and now we can heal ourselves with this book called 'Healing' by David Elliott."
Book 4: 'How to Change Your Mind' by Michael Pollan
Recommended on: Oct. 11
Quick summary: The lengthy subtitle of the 2018 New York Times bestseller gives you a pretty good idea: "What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence." Food writer Pollan writes about his own experiences taking psychedelics and explores research on their potential to be therapeutic for people with PTSD, postpartum depression and addiction.
Excerpt: “Love is everything … A platitude is precisely what is left of a truth after it has been drained of all emotion. To desaturate that dried husk with feeling is to see it again for what it is: the loveliest and most deeply rooted of truths, hidden in plain sight.”
Why Rodgers likes it: Short of calling it a "fantastic book" and citing Pollan's decades of research on the use of psychedelics, he didn't offer much of a review. It may go against the Aaron Rodgers Book Club purpose of encouraging more reading and less TV, but he did encourage people who don't want to tackle the 400-page book to watch the four-part Netflix docuseries of the same name.
Book 3: 'The Art of Contemplation' by Richard Rudd
Recommended on: Oct. 4
Quick summary: A guide to bringing contemplation into daily life by looking at it from three levels — pausing, pivoting and merging — to gain insight into problems, heal trauma and find peace. Rudd, an international teacher and poet, is the founder of Gene Keys Synthesis, "an integral matrix of all human evolutionary potential," as described by Watkins Publishing.
Why Rodgers likes it: "'The Art of Contemplation' is a brilliantly written book. Simple in nature but deep in wisdom, and Richard is a very, very wise human being and a dear friend."
Rodgers recommends the book, at just 100 pages, as an introduction to Rudd and his writing style. Readers can work their way up to his heftier, 576-page "The Gene Keys: Embracing your higher purpose."
Rodgers mentioned he's hoping to meet up with with Rudd, who lives in England, when the Packers play the New York Giants on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Book 2: '1984' by George Orwell
Recommended on: Sept. 27
Quick summary: The 1949 classic by English novelist George Orwell warns of a dystopian future where the government controls the truth, and facts are distorted and suppressed. The book, with its concepts of Big Brother and the Thought Police, has commonly been found on high school reading lists. It also has been banned and challenged for its social and political themes. In 2017, sales of the book soared after former President Donald Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway used the words "alternative facts" during a dispute over the size of the inauguration crowd, drawing comparisons to "1984" by some on social media.
Excerpt: "On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran."
Why Rodgers likes it: "It's an important book I think to read, because we've got to make this book fiction again," said Rodgers, who read it many years ago and recently looked back at some of the notes he made in it.
Many of the things Orwell wrote about, Rogers said, could be seen as having correlations to current times. He mentioned specifically the main character of Winston Smith working for the Ministry of Truth, an organization where people "rewrite history in order to fit a narrative that better suits the talking heads of the day," Rodgers said.
"A book that still stands up. A very interesting book, controversial I think to some people, but at the very least a book that you can read and say, 'I'm going to read this book so that this doesn't happen to my society in 2022 and beyond,' because a lot of things that are happening in this book could be ... we're moving toward some of those things right now."
Book 1: 'The Mastery of Love' by don Miguel Ruiz
Recommended on: Sept. 20
Quick summary: It’s part of the renowned spiritual teacher's “Toltec Wisdom Series," which includes “The Four Agreements," a book Rodgers recommended last year (and in turn, Ruiz sent him a message of support for the book club). It takes on fear-based beliefs and assumptions that undermine love and lead to drama in relationships, including domestication, the image of perfection and war of control.
Excerpt: “You don't need to justify your love, you don't need to explain your love, you just need to practice your love. Practice creates the master.”
Why Rodgers likes it: “It’s a simple book. It’s only about 200 pages, but the simplest books often have the deepest wisdom," he said.
Contact Kendra Meinert at 920-431-8347 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KendraMeinert.
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This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Aaron Rodgers Book Club 2022; Russell Brand's 'Recovery' is his latest