The late Nipsey Hussle continues to inspire the masses with his music. But Hussle was not only a great rapper, the father and husband was also a voracious reader.

The Victory Lap rapper’s love of books inspired a group of men to start The Marathon Book Club, where they frequently meet to discuss literature.

In the aftermath of Hussle’s death, a 31-year-old fan from Wisconsin created a meme listing all of the books that Hussle had mentioned in interviews, songs and motivational messages that she had been compiling for years. It includes self-help bestsellers, cult classics and little-known books by black authors.

The list went viral.

Now, almost a year later, 74 black men and two Latinos make up the four chapters of The Marathon Book Club. They meet monthly in OaklandNew York and Washington, D.C., in addition to L.A., to discuss the books that motivated Hussle.

They include professors, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, investment bankers and at least one former athlete. Of those in Los Angeles, they have bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees in business and doctorates from historically black colleges, private schools and state public universities.

All those fancy titles and statuses are left at the door, though. There’s no posturing or pretensions. In this circle, the men can remove the masks that they have to wear in the world. Here, they can be themselves.

Hussle found that the tools he needed to realize his dreams were inside books. These books all educated and empowered Hussle — to release albums, start a record label and hire people with felony records to work at his shop, Slauson Tees, which later became The Marathon Clothing Store.

Together at The Marathon Book Club, in the company of other accomplished, like-minded men at the top of their careers, they can share personal struggles that never make it on social media.

“Seeing brothers talking about the journey while they are in it makes you realize, ‘I’m not alone in this,’” one member said. “I’m feeling the same thing.”

Los Angeles Times