14 Celebrities Who Share Their Favorite Books and Inspire Us to Read More
Reading is cooler than ever these days, partly thanks to the fast rise of #bookstagram, and partly thanks to some of our favorite characters, like Hermione Granger, Belle, and Elle Woods. Even better, the actresses who brought them to life have started their own book clubs, championing their love of reading.
The celebrity book club trend is growing, and sometimes it's hard to keep up. While some are officially branded and have their own Instagram pages and/or websites, like Oprah's Book Club (which requires no introduction) and Reese Witherspoon's Book Club x Hello Sunshine, others are yearly roundups and lists by figures like Barack Obama and Bill Gates, and (more often) others are casual suggestions by celebrities on their personal pages. These recommendations range from quick posts about a book they love, like Brie Larson does, to in-depth discussions offered by Emma Watson. While it's mostly women participating in this trend, it's nice to see some men in the mix, with the entry of NFL quarterback Andrew Luck, and Jimmy Fallon's Summer book club.
Here's a roundup of these famous readers and some of their recent picks to add to that never-ending to-read list we all seem to have.
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After becoming a UN ambassador promoting women's rights and feminism, Emma Watson founded Our Shared Shelf. Her book club chooses one book every two months. The book is always written by a woman and explores current topics related to equality and feminist issues.
Her first choice was Gloria Steinem's My Life on the Road. Other books that have made her list include The Things I Would Tell You by Sabrina Mahfouz, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, and Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. Watson uses her platform to conduct in-depth discussions with readers, interview authors, and highlight related causes.
The "Florence" in Florence and the Machine founded her own book club in 2012, Between Two Books, inspired by her love of reading and by Portland's famous Powell's Books. This club doesn't have a regular schedule but suggests a book Florence or one of her friends loves every few months. Some recent reads include the book of poetry Pamper Me to Hell & Back by Hera Lindsay Bird, Normal People by Sally Rooney, and The Lonely City by Olivia Laing. In addition to online discussions, Between Two Books is involved in live events as well.
One of the most popular book clubs these days is the relatively new Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine. Witherspoon has been celebrating women's work in recent years and turning several books into popular movies. This club has a pick every month, which becomes an instant bestseller widely shared across Instagram (though there's not much discussion related to the book itself after it's announced).
Some recent reads include The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory, The Library Book by Susan Orlean, and Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. Reese's Book Club is mostly an Instagram platform for book-lovers, with fun posts, memes, and giveaways curated by this famous book nerd. Elle Woods would be proud.
Indiana Colts quarterback Andrew Luck founded a book club to share his love of reading and build a community on social media. The Andrew Luck Book Club began as a joke when The Wall Street Journal described him as the "NFL's unofficial librarian." #ALBookClub subsequently took off on social media, and Luck owned it. He recommends two books each month, one for younger readers (what he calls "rookies") and one for older folks (or "veterans"). He also posts reminders and timelines to help his community finish the books, interviews authors, and has his own podcast.
Some of the club's recent reads include The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, Levels of the Game by John McPhee, Educated by Tara Westover, and Turtles All the Way Down by John Green.
It's the book club that kicked off celebrity book clubs, founded back in 1996, and it's still the one that has the most clout. Oprah recommends her favorite reads, usually dense and literary, and always thought-provoking and challenging. Oprah's Book Club stickers can be seen on copies in bookstores and are always bestsellers — it's an author's dream to make her list.
Recent picks include The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle, and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. You can find the complete selection of books here!
With her book club, Belletrist, actress Emma Roberts aims to change the image of a girl who loves to read, making it sexy and cool. A great feature of this book club is that it highlights one indie bookstore of the month from around the USA. Books are recommended on a monthly basis, and Roberts will often attend Belletrist Q&As and readings at indie bookstores, especially across Los Angeles. The Instagram page is active and engaged, building a community around reading. Roberts and Karah Preiss, who helps her run the book club, seem to lean toward books of essays and memoirs written by women, but there are also novels and young adult books in the mix.
Some of their notable (often indie) reads include Joy Enough by Sarah McColl, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Bringing Down the Colonel by Patricia Miller, Touch by Courtney Maum, and a special love for all things Joan Didion.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker doesn't have her own branded book club, but she gives fans and readers frequent recommendations two ways: first, as honorary chair of the American Library Association's Book Club Central, where she's picked books like Heartland by Sarah Smarsh and She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore, and second as editorial director of SJP For Hogarth, where she has published two works of fiction so far, the most recent being Golden Child by Claire Adams, and before that A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza.
The focus of her imprint is emerging international voices from various cultures. On Goodreads, hers is the No. 1 most followed page in the last 12 months.
Mindy Kaling frequently shares an eclectic selection of books she loves with her millions of followers on Instagram. In her Instagram Stories, she has a "My Faves" section that until recently has been all about food (best places to eat Indian in NY or get pies in LA, for example), but she's also talked about children's books on Instagram, sharing her daughter's favorites.
"Every day, I try to read my daughter, Katherine, three to five books," she said. (Her daughter's most favorite is the popular Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton). Here's to hoping there will be more of these video book recommendations!
Some of her 2018 adult book suggestions are My Squirrel Days (written by fellow The Office star Ellie Kemper), This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps, political thriller The Hellfire Club by Jake Tapper, and even a cookbook suggestion, Indian Kitchen by Maunika Gowardhan.
Jennifer Garner started a new series on her Instagram page called Books With Birdie, where she suggests a book and reads it to her dog, and it's one of the most adorable things you'll see online. She'll also suggest to her followers cookbooks and lifestyle books, like Reese Witherspoon's Whiskey in a Teacup, with video showing her trying out recipes and recommendations (like Witherspoon's hairstyling tips) from these books.
Jimmy Fallon launched his inaugural Tonight Show Summer Reads in 2018 with the book selection of Children of Blood and Bone, a fantasy young adult novel by Tomi Adeyemi. He shared a live Q&A with the author on his Instagram and website and partnered with the book's publisher, Macmillan, to donate 3,000 copies to classrooms, shelters, and community programs across the country through First Book.
On The Tonight Show, he encouraged viewers to get the book from their local libraries. "You don't need money or friends," Fallon joked as he called on his audience to join him in reading the book over the Summer. It sounds like this may be a yearly thing, so stay tuned at #tonightshowsummerreads for the new pick!
Every year, former President Barack Obama shares his favorite books on social media. It's now become an anticipated list. His most recent selections include, of course, his wife's book, Becoming, along with An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die by Keith Payne, Factfulness by Hans Rosling, In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu, Feel Free by Zadie Smith, and Florida by Lauren Groff. Find the full list here.
Bill Gates also posts a yearly list of his favorite books. He always chooses five for his end-of-year roundup, but he shares more books that he recommends throughout the year on his Instagram page and his blog. His recent book reviews feature Educated by Tara Westover, 21 Lessons For the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, and Meditation & Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe.
Melinda Gates has joined her famous husband recently in regularly recommending books she's read and loved on her Instagram page, sharing why they called out to her. She's suggested titles like Heartland by Sarah Smarsh, the novel A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, and We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai.
While her recent posts have been understandably all about her Captain Marvel movie role, in her downtime, Brie Larson seems to be an avid reader and shares interesting books she loves with her millions of Instagram followers. Some of the books she shared last in 2018 were The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock, Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, You Play the Girl by Carina Chocano, and Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Let's see what she'll be reading this year!