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The Loop

Here's how you could host a book club like NFL quarterback Andrew Luck, because apparently book clubs are cool now

May 10, 2017

The Andrew Luck Book Club is, to date, the only consistently active book club captained by a functional NFL quarterback, excepting the one briefly launched by Jim McMahon in 1985. (They mostly read the backs of Van Halen albums.) The Indianapolis Colts QB/only football player on Earth to be regarded favorably as “the team’s librarian” is well-known as one of them fancy readers, and his book club has quietly evolved into a genuine civic joy that promotes literacy and has been adopted by a number of city schools.

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The club is currently online, though an audio version is coming to Indianapolis public radio this month. And it’s had the side effect of calming many of our city’s important sports debates about dropping $140 million on this guy. (“A hundred and forty million dollars is ridiculous!” “But ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ is a glimmering parable about the magic of youth and bravery YOU SON OF A BITCH” people will yell before throwing pork tenderloins around.)

Regardless, with Luck as inspiration, you might consider taking it a step further and hosting your own in-person book club. If so, a few tips for getting literate in your very own home:

1. Follow Luck’s lead. Every quarter, Luck recommends a book for “veterans” (grown-ups) and “rookies” (teens), and they’re well on point. Selections have included “The Boys in the Boat,” “Unbroken” and other books about people enduring brutal, horrific WWII-era conditions you can discuss over craft beer in a comfortable sitting room whose lighting you can control by talking to a hockey puck-sized machine on the coffee table.

2. Prepare questions in advance. “How much of Louis Zamperini’s ordeal could you have survived? Is the author’s treatment of the ultra-cruel Japanese camp commander known as ‘The Bird’ fair? Louis Zamperini, the main character in the ‘Boys in the Boat’? Louis? Did anyone even read this book?”

3. When it becomes apparent that no one has read the book, ask if any of them have seen the movie. This will be possible if you were smart and your book club started with “The Martian.” You’d think two hours of Matt Damon on Mars would get super-boring, but the man pulls it off.

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4. Continue picking books about humans triumphing over incredible odds and maintaining grace and strength in the face of inhuman adversity. Generally speaking, they make you whine less about the wait time at Starbucks.

5. Books, as it turns out, are very long. If you commute, consider audiobooks, which are like being read to by a calming British aristocrat. If you’re pressed for time, audiobooks let you speed up the audio like a 2004 Kanye West sample so you can basically blow through “A Wrinkle in Time” in like 15 minutes, which is a little ironic when you think about it.

6. Snacks are key. Trader Joe’s has dumptruck-loads of fancy cheese for like $3 each. Pick ones with lengthy European-sounding names. When someone asks you the names of these cheeses, make fun of them. They’re cheeses, Greg, just calm the f**k down.

7. If you get stuck for talking points, try to think back what your high school English teacher might ask. Does the author portray these characters sympathetically? Are there any recurring instances of symbolism? Is that tobacco? Are you chewing tobacco in my class, Mr. Vrabel? Get out.

8. At the end of each club, hold a vote to pick the next book by seeing what’s available on iTunes Movies.

9. Andrew Luck gets paid $140 million to throw a ball around. He’s using some small percentage of his influence to encourage kids to read something other than novels based on Minecraft/DisneyXD shows, and you to read something other than the flaming garbage pile of real-world news and your status updates. That’s worth at least $120 million.