Discover my five favorite books from top celebrity book clubs. From Reese to Oprah to Jenna, the ultimate must-read list awaits. Get the scoop on them all!
Celebrity book clubs have become quite influential in my reading life, and I’m sure I’m not alone. From Reese Witherspoon to Oprah Winfrey, these celebrity book clubs are taking the literary world by storm!
On this week’s Book Gang podcast episode, we spill the literary tea on some of your favorite celebrity book clubs. In this episode, Josh (from @tellthebeees on Tiktok) joins me to discuss how Hollywood and literature can collide.
We discuss the celebrity power of Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Jenna Bush on the publishing industry. We also discuss the Noname Book Club and her mission to get books into the hands of incarcerated individuals.
Listen to the full episode (the show notes are located here) below and subscribe to the Book Gang podcast for more episodes like this one.
How Did Celebrity Book Club Get Started?
In 1996, Oprah introduced her on-air book club with a simple goal: “to get the whole country reading again.” Her first book selection was The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard.
Oprah’s book club quickly became a cultural force in the literary world. She has been estimated to drive sales anywhere between 20 to 100 times more than any other media personality.
It is fun to reflect on the response of writers in those early days. Initially, some authors hesitated to have their work endorsed by a celebrity book club. Still, as time passed, Oprah’s approval became an author’s badge of honor, with many seeing a significant boost in sales after selection.
Thanks to Oprah’s influence, many celebrities are leading book clubs, each with a unique approach. In fact, during the pandemic, many celebrities started book clubs, but not all of them had staying power.
One of the most legendary of these book club stars was Kim Kardashian & Chrissy Teigen. After announcing that they were starting a book club in 2017, they got as far as meeting once and posting a few tweets about it – and no further. Kim said, “It never took off because we were lazy.”
One thing that has become increasingly clear about celebrity book clubs is that they are a driving force within the publishing industry and bring much success to these chosen writers.
Today I am sharing five of my favorite selections from these three featured celebrity book clubs in honor of today’s discussion. As we discuss more book clubs in the future, this book club list will later expand beyond this initial list. We hope to explore many other book clubs in the future, including an Oprah’s Book Club Deep Dive!
Don’t Forget to Join the MomAdvice Book Club
Of course, I can’t encourage you enough to join MY book club, The MomAdvice Book Club! Not only do I curate twelve books for discussion each year, but we enhance this experience through our Patreon group. By joining, you gain access to exclusive author interviews and book club playlists that immerse you further in these book selections. To learn more about that, visit our 2023 book club books list.
Meet Jenna’s Book Club
Jenna Bush Hager, a former First Daughter of the United States, author, journalist, and television personality, founded Jenna’s Book Club. The club was launched in March 2019 as part of the Today Show on NBC.
Jenna’s Book Club features a new book selection every month, announced on the Today Show and on Jenna’s social media channels. The books selected are a mix of genres, including fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, and other types of literature. The club also provides discussion questions for each book selection to help facilitate conversations and engage readers. You can see the full list of Jenna’s picks here.
In 1963, two men are hired to steward at a Presbyterian congregation, but they could not be more opposite. Charles is a Harvard professor-to-be who falls in love with Lily, an intellectual who sternly opposes religion.
James has weathered a troubled past and finds hope and faith through Nan, who grew up with a devout minister father. Rather than lean into this comforting religious lifestyle, he is passionate about social issues and sees injustice around him.
The contrast in these homes and between these men feeds the story. As the two happen to be taking the reigns during a challenging and turbulent time with racism and women’s rights, it creates a dynamic storyline.
In this book, we get to imagine our world as an atheist feminist tasked with being a minister's wife and one where your devout faith is all you know with a spouse determined to raise awareness around racial inequalities in your comforting church environment.
This story follows these two couples over decades as they must learn to love and respect one another, despite their differences. It is a poignant meditation on faith, marriage, and the meaning of life.
Shelby Van Pelt's debut novel is a charming and witty exploration of reckoning with the past and discovering unexpected connections that can change everything.
If I can make one small recommendation, I beg you to choose the audiobook format for this beautiful book.
Tova Sullivan, a seventy-year-old widow, finds solace in her night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. After losing her husband and son, Tova has learned to cope by staying busy and working hard, and she finds purpose in cleaning the aquarium and caring for the animals.
There, she forms an unlikely bond with Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus who holds the key to unraveling the mystery of her son's disappearance. As they spend time together, Marcellus helps Tova uncover the truth about her son's disappearance, and Tova learns to cherish the time she has left with her new friend.
Alongside Tova's story is the tale of Cameron Cassmore, a thirty-year-old man searching for his place in the world and the secrets of his past. As he navigates his journey, he becomes intertwined with Tova and Marcellus, who all learn valuable lessons about life, love, and loss.
This book showcases the power of human connection AND our connection to animals. It's a book that I can confidently recommend to ANY reader.
This heart-wrenching story follows Adunni, a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who dreams of receiving an education but is sold by her father as a third wife to an older man.
But amidst the hardship, there are glimmers of hope. When a local woman takes Adunni under her wing and helps her apply for a scholarship, it could be the pivotal moment that changes Adunni's future forever.
Adunni's life is incredibly difficult, and it's painful to know that many girls like her still face these challenges today. This book is not only a beautiful read, but it also highlights important issues that still need to be addressed today.
Many readers recommend and have loved the audiobook experience, but it resonated just as much in the paper copy!
Nothing to See Here is a quirky and heartwarming story with a rather unusual premise.
Lillian and Madison were former roommates at an elite boarding school and haven't spoken since Lillian left in the wake of a scandal at their school.
It’s why it is such a surprise when Madison reaches out to Lillian for help caring for her twin step sons. Lillian figures she has nothing to lose and accepts the unique job offer, but it isn’t easy job.
You see, these children aren’t like any other children. When agitated, they spontaneously combust into flames. Throughout one humid summer, Lillian learns to love and protect the strange children, ultimately finding her place in the world.
This charming story is a quick and enjoyable read, perfect for those who love magical realism, and will be a warm introduction to Kevin Wilson's unique writing. This is another case where the audiobook will enhance your experience with this book.
If you love it, don’t miss Kevin’s latest, which we included in our best coming-of-age stories list.
This gripping story follows twelve-year-old Edward Adler, the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed his parents and older brother, and how he struggles to find his place in the world after losing everything he holds dear.
If you love coming-of-age stories as much as I do, you'll be moved by Edward's journey and the characters he meets along the way, especially his new neighbor and faithful sidekick, Shay.
The alternating perspectives between the passengers and the crew provide a deep understanding of the tragedy and the emotions and thoughts of those involved. The letters written by the families of the other passengers add a layer of emotion and make the book even more touching.
If you connect with this novel, don't miss Ann's next book, Hello, Beautiful, launching on March 14th. I have this on my Kindle now and can't wait to read it!
Meet Reese’s Book Club
Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club is an online book club founded by the actress and producer Reese Witherspoon. The club focuses on promoting and celebrating books written by women, with a particular emphasis on uplifting and amplifying the voices of underrepresented authors.
Each month, Witherspoon selects a new book to feature on her book club Instagram page and share with her millions of followers. The books chosen are often contemporary fiction, memoirs, or compelling and thought-provoking essays.
In addition to her monthly book picks, Witherspoon also interviews the authors of the selected books on her Instagram page and shares their insights and inspirations behind their work. This provides a unique opportunity for readers to learn more about the books and their authors. You can see the full list of Reese’s picks here.
If you're looking for a heartwarming and thought-provoking novel that explores the complexities of family, identity, and acceptance, then this is the novel for you.
The story follows the story of Rosie and Penn, a couple raising five boys in Wisconsin. When their youngest son, Claude, desires to wear dresses and be called Poppy, the family's world is turned upside down. As they navigate the challenges of raising a transgender child, they must confront their biases, fears, and insecurities.
Frankel shares, in an interview for our site, that she is the mother of a little boy who is now a girl, but reassures readers this is not their story but a fictional story to discuss more of a broader social issue that roads are not always clearly defined for each child. When asked about her eye-catching cover, she shared that the peeled orange symbolizes the layers of identity and what's on the inside versus the outside.
It is a beautifully written and compassionate exploration of what it means to love unconditionally and accept people for who they are. With its relatable characters, engaging plot, and important message of inclusivity, this book will leave a lasting impression on anyone who reads it.
This literary fiction masterpiece is a poignant and thought-provoking novel by Elif Shafak, exploring the themes of identity, love, and loss. Set in Cyprus, the story follows two parallel narratives, one in the past and one in the present, connected by a mysterious tree that seems to hold the key to a long-hidden secret.
Defne and Kostas have a Romeo & Juliet love story, but the opposition is their Greek and Turkish heritage. Their love blossoms, quite literally, beneath a fig tree that stretches through the rooftop of their favorite tavern, where they plan their secret meetings.
As they struggle to overcome the obstacles in their path, they must confront the realities of war, displacement, and prejudice and its devastating impact on their lives and those around them.
In the present timeline, we meet Ada, a young woman who returns to the island years later, seeking answers about her family's past and the secrets they kept hidden. As she delves deeper into her family's history, she discovers the mysterious tree's role in their lives and the truth behind their painful past.
Through her masterful storytelling, Shafak weaves together these two narratives, exploring the themes of love, loss, and identity in a heart-wrenching and uplifting way. "The Island of Missing Trees" is a powerful and captivating novel that will stay with readers long after the last page has been turned.
After reading this book, I don't know how you wouldn't want to hug a tree. The way the author writes this viewpoint makes the whole story. I found myself tearing up over many of these chapters and the gorgeous affair that blossomed between these two characters. The best thing is that many side characters are just as compelling and add more dimension to the story.
The climate change observations, told by nature herself, allow for a deeply layered book perfect for any book club. This is one case where Reese’s Witherspoon’s selection hit the right notes.
I regret that I did not do this book on audiobook for many reasons, including how I would have loved to hear the tree's narration and hear many unfamiliar words, regions, and local cuisines written in the pages.
However, if you read this one on paper or digital, there is a convenient glossary I didn't know existed until I finished.
This beautiful story comes with many trigger warnings, especially if you are a highly sensitive reader. I found it worth the journey, though, and finished this haunting book in a single day.
This fast page-turner opens with Elle and her oldest friend Jonas sneaking out the back door for a tryst while their spouses chat in the kitchen at a dinner party.
They are on vacation at the summer home, nicknamed the Paper Palace, where she has spent every summer of her life.
And over the next twenty-four hours, Elle must decide whether to stay with her devoted husband or leave him for her childhood sweetheart. But, unfortunately, that sweet boy from her childhood also happened to hold the biggest secret of her life had fate not intervened with a devastating event that altered the course of their lives forever.
Thus begins a gripping tale that spans fifty years and unfolds, tracing the complex web of family legacies, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable trauma from Elle's childhood.
With its tender yet devastating portrayal of desire, safety, and tragedy's lasting mental health impacts, The Paper Palace is a masterfully crafted novel that delves deep into the intricate dynamics of families and the intricate tensions that simmer beneath the surface of everyday life.
This book will not be a perfect fit for every reader. The characters do not significantly evolve, but it offered a mesmerizing audiobook performance that I found to be quite compelling.
If you're looking for the perfect steamy romance novel, Seven Days in June is the book for you! This delicious literary plot features two writers who get a second chance at love after fifteen years apart.
Eva Mercy is a single mother, and bestselling erotica writer feeling overwhelmed from all directions. Shane Hall is a reclusive, award-winning literary author who unexpectedly appears in New York. When the two writers meet at a literary event, sparks fly, reigniting a passion that they thought had long been extinguished.
No one knows they had a passionate love affair twenty years ago, lasting just seven days. Despite being apart, they have secretly written to each other in their books ever since.
In the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva's not sure how to trust the man who broke her heart.
There is so much to unbox with this one, with surprising depth from difficult childhoods to their more grown-up challenges as Black authors. I love that you feel like you get a peek behind the curtain at both the writing process and the creative challenges of story creation.
This book also tackles Eva’s journey with debilitating migraines and chronic pain. I have loved seeing this more recently in my romance novels, and these backstories make a lighter topic (like romance) have surprising depth. As someone with chronic pain, I felt so seen in this storyline. This novel has become one of my all-time favorite romance novels, and Tia Williams is now a favorite author.
Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors, and I was honored to interview her on our site before her wild Booktok success. In the last few books, Taylor Jenkins Reid has been crafting fictional women celebrity stories, with her final installment as her most recent Carrie Soto is Back.
Daisy Jones & The Six is one of those fictional celebrity stories you can't believe is fiction. This captivating novel transports readers back to the 1970s rock and roll era, following the meteoric rise of a fictional rock band, Daisy Jones & The Six, and their frontwoman Daisy Jones, who becomes one of the biggest icons in music history.
Daisy is the girl that every girl wants to be. She is stunning and can capture any man's attention, sneaking out to clubs when she is just a kid and capturing the heart of anyone her heart desires. She finds she has a knack for singing, a knack that people spend years trying to train their voices to achieve.
The Six is led by Billy Dunne and is also getting noticed in the music world. Billy is an addict who has just discovered that he will be a father and wants to sow his wild oats before settling down.
When Billy & Daisy cross paths, a producer realizes that putting these two voices together could be the ticket to making them all successful.
At the heart of the novel is the story of the tumultuous relationship between Daisy & Billy, as their chemistry is undeniable both on and off the stage.
The novel is presented in an interview format, as if the band members were interviewed about their experiences. The story is told through the perspectives of various characters, including Daisy, the band members, and others who were a part of their journey. Through this interview series, the reader uncovers their humble beginnings to their explosive endings. It's the stuff of legends, as all good rock and roll stories are.
Written in a lyrical and engaging style, this is a page-turner that will keep you hooked from beginning to end. Readers can immerse themselves further in the television series, streaming now.
Meet the Noname Book Club
Noname is a rapper, singer, and poet from Chicago known for her socially conscious and introspective rap lyrics. She’s also the founder of the Noname Book Club, a Black-led cooperative that connects community members, including those in carceral facilities, with radical books written by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.
Noname’s mom owned a bookstore in Chicago for 20 years, so she grew up around books her whole life. The library was a big part of her younger years; she even started recording her music in her local library. It’s clear that books have always been a big part of her life, and she’s using her platform to share her love of reading with others.
Since its founding in 2019, the club has established 12 chapters across the US and sends books to hundreds of incarcerated individuals.
The club’s mission is to provide free resources to incarcerated individuals and make revolutionary literature available in local communities. They’ve faced challenges in navigating what is and isn’t against prison rules for literature, but they’re working hard to get their books into the hands of those who need them.
They currently have local chapters in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Washington D.C. If you’re interested in joining, they pick one or two new books every month and ask that you pick a Black-owned bookstore to purchase from or grab a copy from your local library.
What I love about their monthly picks is that they tell you exactly the focus, so you can find books with themes you want to explore and learn about every month. The list is robust and eclectic, which matches Noname’s artistic style. You can see the full list of Noname’s picks here.
This poignant and haunting novel is set in Nigeria in the 1990s. The story follows the life and tragic death of Vivek Oji, a young boy unlike any other.
Vivek loves wearing dresses and keeping his hair long, which is unusual in Nigeria's conservative society. His family is supportive and protective of him, but they do not fully understand him.
One day, Vivek's mother discovers his body wrapped in colorful fabric at her doorstep. As the family grieves and tries to make sense of the tragedy, they learn that Vivek had been keeping many secrets.
The novel delves into the complex relationships between Vivek, his family, and his friends. It explores the challenges of growing up in a society that does not accept differences and the pain of losing someone who was never fully understood.
Emezi's writing is lyrical and powerful, and she creates unforgettable characters who will stay with readers long after they finish the book. This book has left an imprint on my heart forever.
Set in the summer of 1775 on the Gold Coast of West Africa, Yaa Gyasi's novel follows the intertwined lives of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, unaware of each other's existence.
Effia catches the eye of a white British trader of enslaved people, James, who pays a hefty bride price to take her from her forested village to live in the Cape Coast Castle. Meanwhile, Esi is captured in a raid by slave traders and taken to the same castle, where she is imprisoned in the dungeon before being transported to the United States to be sold into slavery.
The novel takes a multigenerational approach, tracing the descendants of Effia and Esi in Africa and America, respectively. The chapter's titles are named after different characters, each providing a unique perspective on the ongoing legacy of slavery and discrimination. The writing is evocative and immersive, with vivid descriptions that bring this haunting story to life.
More importantly, it yields a powerful exploration that is unflinching in both its depiction of the horrors of slavery and the triumph of the human spirit. This is essential reading.
This mesmerizing novel is about twin sisters who take vastly different paths as adults after growing up in a small, southern black community.
One sister lives with her black daughter in the same town they both grew up in, while the other sister has passed as white and lives with her white husband who knows nothing about her past.
The novel explores the intricacies of their lives, families, communities, and racial identities, weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s.
I didn't want this riveting read to end, as the reader longs for the two girls to unite and find their commonalities again. It is a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing, and it offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive, provocative, compassionate, and wise.
If this novel resonates with you, don’t miss “Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?” this summer. It’s another riveting book on the history of passing set in the era of old Hollywood.
If you're in the mood for a quick, captivating read that's equal parts witty, dark, and suspenseful, then look no further than My Sister, The Serial Killer. This isn't just a Noname Book Club selection, it also made the MomAdvice Book Club list too.
This unique novel follows the story of two sisters, Korede and Ayoola, who are polar opposites in every way - except for the fact that Ayoola has a penchant for killing her boyfriends Korede is the one who always has to clean up her messes.
But when Ayoola sets her sights on Korede's crush, things take a deadly turn, and Korede must decide just how far she will go to protect her sister.
Despite the title, this book is not just about serial killing - it's a story about the complicated bonds between sisters, the lengths we'll go to protect the people we love, and the consequences of our actions.
The writing is sharp and engaging, and the plot moves lightning-fast, keeping you turning the pages until the end. And at just 240 pages, it's the perfect book to pick up if you're short on time but still want to get lost in a good story.
Love this post? Don’t miss these budget-friendly reading resources!
What have been YOUR favorite celebrity book club books? Do we share any favorites?
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