Behind The Scenes

Summer Reading Series: LZ Granderson

(L-R) Amin Elhassan, Michelle Beadle, LZ Granderson and Marcellus Wiley report from the set of SportsNation. (Kohjiro Kinno/ESPN Images)

Now that school is out and summer has officially started, Front Row is launching a new “Summer Reading” series to highlight ESPN commentators and other employees who have a passion for reading.

ESPN’s LZ Granderson prefers turning pages of a book, but he’s not beyond downloading a good read. (Photo courtesy of LZ Granderson/ESPN)

SportsNation and ESPNLA 710’s Mornings with Keyshawn, Jorge and LZ co-host LZ Granderson, who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine and The Undefeated and works as an ABC News correspondent, kicks off the series. A self-professed “nerd,” Granderson shares some of his favorite reads.

What book are you currently reading?
I picked up James Blake’s book “Ways of Grace.” He is a buddy of mine, and I also cover tennis, so I was cognizant of what was going on and talked to him about the 2015 altercation in New York after the US Open.

I’m looking forward to what he has to say in his new book. James is one of the smartest people I know, not just as an athlete but as a person. Hearing or meeting someone with his perspective, as well as personal experience, whether it’s dealing with the police or being African-American in a predominantly white sport like tennis, piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know how he views the role sports can play for a more perfect union.

What was the last book you read?
Julian Zelizer wrote a sort of a biography of Lyndon Johnson, “The Fierce Urgency of Now,” and I read it while on vacation in Belize. It is a fascinating look at how Johnson got so much of his policies through the post-JFK assassination. That is the kind of person I am, reading about policy and history on vacation. On my way to Paris, I read “Fiasco” by Thomas Ricks, disseminating the origins of ISIS and the war on terror. Someone said to me, “You’re going to Paris, you should chill,” and I said, “This is chilling for me.”

Here are three of the books on Granderson’s reading list. (Taylor Garrett/ESPN)

Do you prefer e-books or actual books?
Sometimes I’ll download a book I have a copy of, so I can keep reading if I don’t feel like carrying the book. But I love the aesthetic of drinking a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and turning the pages. I just love to turn those pages.

Do you have any books on your list that you haven’t read yet?
I want to read [Gov.] John Kasich’s book “Two Paths: America Divided or United” next. He is fascinating because his policies and politics, through most of his career, have been identified as conservative but in this new climate he comes across as more of a moderate.

How do you fit reading into your busy schedule?
I don’t watch a lot of scripted television. Most of my television viewing is either for games or the news. I also travel a great deal and don’t really drive, so between Uber rides, the airport, flights cross country or just being at home.

What is the most influential book in your life?
Makes Me Want to Holler: A Young Black Man in America” by Nathan McCall is the book that set me on my path. I picked up that book because I read about it being pretty good and McCall’s story was similar to my own story. I didn’t always do the right things growing up, and he didn’t always do the right things growing up. He went to college and started becoming a journalist, and I thought that’s what I’m going to do.

The team

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