New York Mets Pitcher Noah Syndergaard Wants to Make Reading 'Cool Again' with New Book Club
The athlete launched Noah's Book Club on Monday
Put it in the books — Noah Syndergaard is ready to make reading fun again.
The New York Mets pitcher is launching a monthly book club, which he hopes will get fans off their phones and buried in a book.
"It was just a fun idea I thought about throughout quarantine and while I've been recovering from Tommy John [surgery]," he tells PEOPLE. "I'm excited to share what I'm into and give the fans a different view of what I'm about and to promote literacy."
Syndergaard, 28, was forced to sit out of the 2020 season after he underwent Tommy John surgery in March, recovery from which typically takes about a year. He says his renewed love of reading came about during a quarantine "rut," in which he found himself cycling between TV show binges and TikTok.
"I've found reading books to be way more productive with my time than TikToking, and I want everyone to be focused more on reading than screen time," he says. "I remember Ashton Kutcher saying something like, 'The coolest attribute anyone can have is to be really smart,' and that has stuck with me over the years, and further pushed my desire to read."
The athlete adds that he's had to lean on reading over the years for learning and growth, as he was drafted straight out of high school and didn't attend college — and hopes that his book club can provide similar lessons for fans.
"When I was in school, honestly, I wasn't a huge reader and I somewhat dreaded it," he says. "But now I enjoy it, and I see the benefit. I'm constantly reading and learning now, and in starting this book club, I want to make reading cool again."
Syndergaard — who was featured in PEOPLE's 2020 Sexiest Man Alive issue — will post a new book each month to his social media accounts, starting on Monday with Scott Carney's What Doesn't Kill Us, which traces the evolutionary journey of humans.
He teased his new venture — and the first title — last week, with a photo of him wearing sunglasses and thumbing through a book in an ice bath.
"Hobbies include ice baths, being shirtless … and reading," he wrote. "Now starting #NoahsBookClub. Dropping the first book on Feb. 1st. Let's Read."
Each month, Syndergaard (who still prefers the feel of a physical book to that of a Kindle) will share insights of his own and favorite passages, and will engage with fans as they share their thoughts, too.
Mets fans may even see some familiar faces join the reading train — the idea was a hit with teammate Pete Alonso, who asked to join on Twitter. (Syndergaard joked that the slugger was in, so long as he hit at least 50 home runs in 2021).
Syndergaard says he'll switch up the genres of his selections, but will definitely include health-related books in the coming months, as he's passionate about fitness and "self-motivation" — the latter of which is why he selected Carney's New York Times best-seller as his inaugural pick.
"Since I was a kid, everyone's been obsessed with superpowers, but I don't think anyone is flying around or will have invisibility powers anytime soon," he says. "The closest thing you can do is go back to your physiology and where we started … This book is about becoming a stronger human being."
The athlete — whose long blond locks, hulking frame, and ability to drop the proverbial hammer on his opponents has earned him the nickname "Thor" — will also look to fans for title suggestions, and hopes to eventually host chats with authors.
"The ultimate end goal," he says, "is to work up to having discussions with the authors and fans and further promote literacy."
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