Executive Book Club

From 'The Alchemist' to 'Blink': Books that Kobe Bryant loved to read

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after defeating the Orlando Magic 99-86 in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.
Ronald Martinez | Getty Images

In addition to his basketball career, which includes five NBA titles, Kobe Bryant wanted to be remembered as a storyteller and as a businessman.

Bryant told The Washington Post in November, just months before his death on Jan. 26, that he wanted to be known "as a person that was able to create stories that inspired their children and families to bond together."

Bryant also loved to read others' storytelling. Throughout his career, he referenced books that had made an impact on him. To honor Bryant, Los Angeles Public Libary compiled a list of books Bryant has recommended over the years. Los Angeles librarian Keith Kesler says he combed through old interviews and social posts from the basketball legend to find the list.

Here are some of those books:

"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho

"The Alchemist" tells the magical story of Santiago, a shepherd boy in search of a treasure buried near the pyramids, who along the way, discovers the power of listening to one's heart and following their dreams.

Bryant read the book so many times he recommended it to other NBA players, according to The Athletic.com, and set up a meeting with Coelho to collaborate on a children's book.

Coelho and Bryant were in the process of working on a draft of a book to inspire underprivileged children to over overcome adversity through sports. However, Coelho told the Associated Press, "I deleted the draft because it didn't make any sense to publish without him."

Pharrell Williams and Oprah Winfrey are also big fans of the book.

"Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson reportedly gave Bryant a copy of "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking," about 15 years ago.

In the book, Gladwell discusses why some people are good at making decisions while others are not, as well as why some people follow their instincts and win while others stumble.

"Children of Blood and Bone" By Tomi Adeyemi

This New York Times best-seller novel was "the first installment in a YA West African Fantasy trilogy about a girl who must fight against the monarchy to bring magic back to her people," according to Adeyemi's website.

Bryant tweeted Adeyemi in 2018 that he read the book in a day.

"The Hero's Journey" by Joseph Campbell

Campbell was the first to trademark the phrase "follow your bliss," and in "The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work," Campbell chronicles his personal and spiritual journey through life and all the obstacles he had to overcome to reach his goals.

One of Bryant's teachers, Jeanne Mastriano, introduced him to the book his sophomore year of high school. In one of his last interviews, Bryant credited Mastriano for his love of reading.

"Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach

When Bryant was asked by a Los Angeles Chargers player what his favorite book was in 2017, he said "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," according to NBC Sports' Peter King.

The book is about a seagull who wants more out of life than fighting other seagulls for food and is trying to pursue other passions.

"I think half the team went out and bought 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull' that day," Chargers VP of Communications Josh Rupprecht, who was there when Bryant spoke, said.

"Relentless" by Tim Grover

In "Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable," fitness trainer Tim Grover, who worked with Bryant and Michael Jordan, reveals what it takes to achieve total mental and physical dominance.

In the forward, Bryant wrote that the book is "the blueprint for discovering what you are capable of achieving, getting results you never imagined, reaching the highest level of success—and then going even higher."

"Shoe Dog" by Philip Knight

In 2017, Bryant posted a Phil Knight quote on Facebook: "There comes a time in every life where the past recedes and the future opens. It's that moment when you turn to face the unknown. Some will turn back to what they already know. Some will walk straight ahead into uncertainty. I can't tell you which one is right. But I can tell you which one is more fun," with the hashtags #MondayMuse and #MambaMentality.

In his book "Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike," founder and former CEO Knight shares his personal story of building the shoe and apparel company from a start-up into one of the world's most iconic brands.

"Sunny" by Jason Reynolds

Bryant actually recommended all four novels in Reynold's "Track Series": "Ghost," "Patina," "Sunny" and "Lu" on Facebook in 2019. "Sunny" chronicles the life of a 13-year-old African-American boy by the same name who is torn between his father's expectations for him to become a marathon runner and his passion for dance.

"Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin

"I loved TEAM OF RIVALS," Kobe told The Amazon Book Review in April.

In "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin writes about the rise of President Abraham Lincoln, focusing in on Lincoln's uncanny ability to lead and bring his disgruntled opponents together.

President Barack Obama has called the book a "remarkable study in leadership."

"The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell

Before Bryant read "Blink," he read "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference."

The book explains how some ideas spread like viruses while others don't. Gladwell says the best way to understand "The Tipping Point" is to understand "the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, or, for that matter, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking."

"Thirty Rooms to Hide in" by Luke Sullivan

"I'm lovin this one," Bryant posted on Facebook about "Thirty Rooms to Hide: Insanity, Addiction, and Rock 'n' Roll in the Shadow of the Mayo Clinic."

Sullivan's memoir about is about public success coupled with private dysfunction and the personal resilience that Sullivan found growing up with an abusive father, who was one of the world's top orthopedic surgeons at the Mayo Clinic.

"Tuff Juice" by Caron Bulter

Bryant wrote the forward to basketball veteran Caron Bulter's "Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA." The book chronicles Butler's journey from gang member and drug dealer on the streets of Wisconsin to NBA All-Star.

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