Megan Rapinoe's New Book Club Isn't Meant for Surface-Level Conversation

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Photo credit: Courtesy Megan Rapinoe
Photo credit: Courtesy Megan Rapinoe

Fresh off a bronze medal win at the Tokyo Olympics, Megan Rapinoe is ready to relax—with a good book in hand. And she’d like you to join. The soccer superstar is one of several athletes, actors, and activists to launch a virtual book club during the pandemic with Austin-based literary startup Literati. Rapinoe is calling her literary circle—which she says will discuss titles that explore topics like racism, immigration, transgender rights, body positivity, and addiction—the “Call In.”

“I want to discuss topics that affect so many of us—or maybe haven’t affected us personally—[and bring together] a community... to ask tough questions,” she says. Sign-ups for the “Call In” are now officially open, and Rapinoe has revealed that her first selection will be Unbound by Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement. Below, she talks to ELLE.com about her favorite drink to pair with a good read, the sports book that changed her life, and why she thinks Roxane Gay is “one of the most important writers of our time.”

What inspired you to pick Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke as your first book club selection?

This was a no-brainer for me. Tarana has literally changed the world for the better for millions of people with her story, her voice, and her unrelenting tenacity. I cannot wait to experience the journey she will take us on and am excited to read it with my club members.

What kind of book club environment are you hoping to foster?

Hopefully the environment of this book club will not be one of comfort and surface-scratching conversation. The trust will come when everyone shows up vulnerable, willing to listen and learn, and with an understanding that the goal is never to “arrive,” because this journey to empathy, equality, and justice is never finished.

What is your favorite sports book of all time?

How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer. I love how it depicts soccer as not just a way of life for some, but as a window into what is happening in the world—sometimes a hard window to look through. For me, soccer is so much more than what happens on the field. This book has always stuck with me.

What is on your must-read list right now?

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. I love reading to learn something new, without having to take a history class. Learning about a truly important (and often overlooked) part of our country’s history through an amazing storyteller is the best way to absorb it for me. Educating myself is a responsibility I take seriously.

Hunger by Roxane Gay is also phenomenal. To me, Roxane is one of the most important writers of our time. That is such an important book and an important topic that affects so many people. I love how she takes on topics head-on.

What is the one book you always recommend to friends?

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates should be a must-read for every single person. Coates is a writer that I really admire, and this book taught me so much and really outlined the complicated dynamics this country faces with progress.

What is your go-to drink to pair with a good read?

Sparking water. I don’t typically read fiction, so whatever I am reading usually requires my full attention, and I don’t like distractions.

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