The Colts QB explains how his passion for pages led to him sharing books with teammates and eventually starting an eponymous online book club
For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read. I owe it to my parents who read to me every night until I could do it myself. They always encouraged my siblings and me to read. Of course as kids do, in addition to reading, we still watched TV, played video games and spent a ton of time playing sports outside. But at an early age, I always felt there was something relaxing and enjoyable about reading, partly because I always saw my parents reading. I remember going on 18-hour car rides each summer, traveling from Houston to Colorado on family vacations. I always had my nose buried in a book and was silent for at least 10 of those hours. It made the time go by way faster and I felt like I could escape in a book more so than a movie or anything else. And I still feel that way today: Reading is the best way for me to clear my mind and slow down.
Throughout my time playing team sports, reading has been a great tool to help me keep perspective. I don’t remember exactly when this started, but early in my career, my teammates, coaches and I began regularly sharing books with each other.
When I arrived in the Colts locker room as a rookie, I continued the book-sharing tradition with my new team. I first shared books with guys like Vick Ballard, Matt Hasselbeck and Joe Reitz because we all liked to read. When Ballard was going through rehab for his ACL tear, I gave him Unbroken, the incredibly inspiring novel about former Olympian and WWII vet Louis Zamperini. I thought the book’s theme of resilience might be helpful to Vick during rehab.
Another time, my mom gave me a book called, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? The book takes place in Seattle and there is a scene where Matt Hasselbeck makes a cameo, tossing the football around with the main character’s husband at a Microsoft executive picnic. I definitely didn’t expect Matt to pop up in this book, nor was I sure he knew about his cameo. So I gave him my copy and we had a great laugh.
I’ll read just about anything if it catches my attention and sparks my interest. I love historical fiction and nonfiction, but I probably read historical fiction the most. Bernard Cornwell is my favorite author. I’ve also read a fair amount of football-related books like Junction Boys, about Bear Bryant’s grueling 10-day summer camp at Texas A&M in 1954, and Chuck Pagano’s book, Sidelined, about the 2012 season. Obviously I was part of that team, and to view it all from Coach Pagano’s perspective was powerful.
A couple of years ago the media figured out how much I enjoyed reading, and periodically would ask me what I was reading and what I would recommend. The soccer pundits “Men in Blazers,” asked me about my favorite book during an interview. When I told them it was The Boys in the Boat, they agreed with me that it’s an incredible read, and half-jokingly suggested I should start a book club. That kind of planted the seed and then several months later, in April 2016, I launched the Andrew Luck Book Club.
Truthfully, I’ve never been part of a book club before. I wanted to make sure that no matter what, it was simple and fun and that it ultimately encouraged people to pick up a book, unplug and read. The Book Club lives online and we’ve broken up the year into selections that mimic the football calendar. For each selection, I pick two books: one for younger readers, The Rookies, and one for more seasoned readers, The Veterans. I occasionally host live video chats to answer questions and ask questions of the readers. I also encourage readers to engage about the books via our social media channels. That part has been a lot of fun.
During our first session, our “Offseason Selection,” The Rookies read Maniac Magee, my favorite book from my childhood. I still pick it up and read a chapter or two on occasion. The Veterans read The Boys in the Boat.
I picked Hatchet for The Rookies because it was another one of my favorite books when I was younger; coincidentally, it was my girlfriend’s favorite as well. It is a great story of survival, and I think it is a perfect summer read since it takes place outside and involves camping—well, a very extreme kind of camping. I chose The Art of Racing in the Rain based on a recommendation made to me a while ago by Griff Whalen, my college roommate, who is now a wide receiver for the Dolphins. He is a huge dog person, and the book is told from a dog’s perspective. I thought that would be fun for our Veterans.
I am excited about all the feedback and support we’ve received since launching the Book Club. We’ve heard from libraries, bookstores, authors, teachers, parents and publishers asking if they could help promote the Book Club. We’ve heard from schools across the country that have started little reading clubs alongside our Book Club. We’ve seen posts from people of all ages sharing their experiences and encouraging other people to read. This is exactly what we hoped to achieve. While I am heading into the season shortly and will be 100 percent focused on the Colts, the Book Club will continue with guest hosts who will choose the books and lead the Q&A and social media interaction until I’m back in the offseason.
If you want to learn more, check out our web site or look for #ALBookClub on social for updates. Until then, I look forward to reading with you.
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