As a reader, I don’t really think too much about how I read. A physical book, a Kindle, or an Audiobook is fine with me.
I understand the people who say they love the smell of a book. I definitely understand the joy of holding a physical book, carrying it around, and just looking at it on your shelf or bedside table. But I also feel the joy of looking at my Kindle and realizing it is filled with dozens of books to read. I enjoy traveling with a Kindle. And I love reading in bed without having to turn on a light (thus, waking my wife).
It’s the words that count the most. That’s where the story lies. Most books—no matter their current form—started off as electronic documents, written on computers rather than reams of paper. So I’m format-agnostic, as we like to say on the Books editorial team. I don’t care how people read; it’s just important that they do read.
Programs like Kindle Unlimited are helpful to Kindle readers. You pay a monthly subscription of $9.99 per month and can select from millions of books, thousands of Audiobooks, and even read magazines. But what books are in that program?
I recently was made aware of a new feature called "Kindle Unlimited is better than ever." You can see the great books in that feature here, but I wanted to highlight a few of them. Because when I started looking at the books, I saw lots that I have loved.
The Mamba Mentality: How I Play by Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant's passing came as a shock to many, many people. He had successfully transitioned into a post basketball life (and started publishing books for reluctant readers), and he had published his own best-selling book. The Mamba Mentality described Kobe's incredibly detailed approach to preparation. And it wasn't just a physical approach; it's was also mental. It is the kind of approach that can be applied outside of the game, too. I had the opportunity to catch up with Kobe Bryant when The Mamba Mentality was published. Here is part of our conversation:
After spending most of your life pursuing a legendary athletic career, how does it feel to have written your first book?
It feels great to see the book finally finished. But the greatest part is that I hope it teaches the next generation about what it means to really go after something—I mean, obsessively go after it. I believe the images will resonate with fans who followed my career, and I hope the words inspire a young girl or boy to achieve future greatness.
The Mamba Mentality is closely associated with your game and the book is all about life on the court, but now that you're retired from professional basketball, how does it apply to your life?
The Mamba Mentality is a mindset that extends way beyond basketball or sports. It’s simple, if you have a goal or a dream, you need to apply the Mamba Mentality to achieve it. Everything worth achieving needs total focus and dedication.
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Secret, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur
The editors liked Adrienne Brodeur's memoir so much, we chose it as our top nonfiction book of 2019. When she was just fourteen years old, Brodeur's mother came into her room to wake her up. She sat down on the edge of Adrienne's bed and said, "Ben Souther just kissed me." There was a problem, though. Ben Souther was the best friend of Adrienne's stepfather. Her mother, Malabar, had begun an affair with her own husband's closest friend—and now she was confessing it to her daughter. That's just the beginning of a thoughtful, sensitive, beautifully described, sometimes shocking memoir. I also had the chance to interview Adrienne Brodeur. Here is what she said about bringing her story out into the world for all to see.
This is a very personal memoir. It's not your whole life, but it’s part of your life. What's it like to have it out there?
It's been challenging for sure. When you're writing something—I can only speak for myself—but I wasn't sort of writing thinking, hey, there are going to be a ton of people who are going to relate to this story, because it seemed like such a quirky and odd story. And I thought I'd written a good book and I worked very hard on it. But it's been a surprise. One of the nice parts about it is all the people—and this has been hugely unexpected—who come up to me and say, “I feel like you wrote this book for me.”
I think the universal thing that I didn't really think about when I was writing it is we all have mothers, and they are these very powerful people in our lives.
The other thing is, you know, I'm not alone in having this sort of legacy of secrecy or deception in my family that I was determined to try to put an end to. That's the other sort of comment I get—about people who are struggling to do the same thing, people who might have always worried am I going to become my mother, am I going to become my father?, and trying to prevent that eventuality while still loving their parents.
Red, White & Royal Blue: A Novel by Casey McQuiston
Bare with me. Just one more interview question. Casey McQuiston really burst on the scene with her debut novel, which asks the question: What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales? Apparently, you get a best-selling novel. And a movie deal. But you'll have to read the book to find out the rest.
A couple weeks after it was published, I asked Casey McQuiston about her experience:
Red, White & Royal Blue is poised to be the next big joyous, offbeat romantic comedy since Crazy Rich Asians. What has it been like to receive so much attention for it?
It’s been mind-blowing! I always loved and believed in this book, but I never imagined so many people would engage with it the way they have. All any writer can do is put their heart on the page and hope for the best, and I’ve been incredibly lucky that my heart has been something people have enjoyed reading. As a queer person, the best part of all this is the pile of messages and emails I’ve gotten from other queer people who feel encouraged and seen by this book—we deserve to be the stars of bright, shiny, fun romantic comedies, too.
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson, one of the biggest fantasy authors writing today, published The Way of Kings in 2010. It was the first book in the Stormlight Archive, an instant best seller that went on to secure his spot as a master of fantasy. But Sanderson writes in a variety of genres, and many of his books are featured in Kindle Unlimited is better than ever.
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac
Finally, our second favorite nonfiction book of 2019 was Mike Isaac's Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber. Here is Amazon Senior Editor Seira Wilson's review: "Love it or hate it, Uber changed the way we use transportation in the U.S. and beyond. The story of this Silicon Valley start-up and its maverick founder Travis Kalanick is utterly riveting, and in Super Pumped author Mike Isaac gives readers an insider’s view of the stunning highs and catastrophic lows of what Isaac calls one of the first mobile unicorns. Through a combination of rapid-fire technological advances and hubris, Uber not only challenged an antiquated system, they delivered it a death blow that has had profound repercussions. The abhorrent behavior, cut-throat mentality, and frat-boy corporate culture within Uber may make you question how it became such a success, but this was also a power structure founded on remarkable creativity, innovation, and tenacity. Kalanick was a master of manipulation and deception during his reign at Uber, and it’s fascinating to see the machinations and greed that were ultimately his downfall. Once again, Uber is making headlines, and Super Pumped gives readers the jump on some of the backroom dealings that are now coming to light. A masterful work of investigative journalism perfect for readers who were captivated by Bad Blood, Mike Isaac’s book is a wild ride that you won’t want to miss."
A recent review of Kindle Unlimited caught my attention.