After a summer read? Take a tip from the A-listers with book clubs

Looking for a summer read? Take a tip from the A-listers with their own celebrity book clubs

  • Dua Lipa, Reese Witherspoon and Queen Camilla have all started book clubs
  • READ MORE: How the frazzled fortysomething woman became this summer’s literary sensation 

Glastonbury. Reading. Hay? In the run of this summer’s festivals, the annual literary gathering in Hay-on-Wye in Wales is not known for its rock ’n’ roll line-up — but this year, among the headliners was singer Dua Lipa, billed as ‘superstar, pop icon and book lover’.

These days, it’s not enough for your multi-hyphenate celebrity to be a mere model-musician-whatever, they want to be a cultural tastemaker and shaker, too. And what better way than to launch your own book club, as Dua has just done?

‘Sharing the joy of reading is something I feel really passionately about, so this is a dream come true,’ gushes Dua. 

And she’s not alone: celebrities ranging from Reese Witherspoon and Graham Norton to Queen Camilla have started book clubs, sharing their recommendations and thoughts so that the public can read along with them.

Of course, celebrity book clubs are not new in themselves: Oprah’s Book Club launched in 1996 and is still going strong, revived in a new format on Apple TV+.

Pop star Dua Lipa launched a monthly book club via her new website, Each month, her ‘personally chosen’ book will be announced via the website’s book club page

Here in the UK, we’ve had Richard (Madeley) and Judy (Finnigan)’s, born out of a similar television chat show discussion and book sticker format, and now run in conjunction with WHSmith.

But everything stepped up a gear when, in 2017, Reese Witherspoon launched her own book club, using social media (Instagram, in her case) to share her recommendations, establishing herself as a literary force and reinvigorating the idea of a celebrity book club.

British author Holly Smale, whose novel The Cassandra Complex (published as Cassandra In Reverse in the U.S.) is this month’s Reese Witherspoon choice, says:

‘Being picked for her Book Club is like winning the author lottery — you’ve immediately got a stamp of approval everyone recognises and respects. 

‘You’re also reaching a massive potential audience, in one fell swoop, and that can make a debut book.’

Now, every Hollywood player, from celebutante to powerhouse, seems to have one: Cindy Crawford’s model daughter Kaia Gerber sharing her picks and interviewing authors on Instagram; Julia Roberts’ actress niece Emma is doing similar through the trendy literary website,, which she co-founded.

The celeb gets to demonstrate how well-rounded they are (Gerber put Greek philosopher Plato on her lockdown reading list, as well as Sally Rooney), sharing a little of themselves but without invading their own privacy; and, perhaps, set themselves up as a literary figure, too.

How far we should trust their recommendations is another matter — but many do get access to early proofs of new releases, courted by book publicists hoping that their latest release will get them a big-name celebrity endorsement.

Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker runs an informal book club via her Instagram (@sarahjessica parker), where she shares her favourites 

That’s because they really can drive sales: for authors, a Reese recommendation is explosive in terms of visibility, not to mention helping their work along the book-to-screen path (often done in house by the filmmaker and her team).

The U.S. publisher of Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens did not anticipate a runaway hit and printed a modest 28,000 copies in the summer of 2018. 

But after its inclusion in Reese’s Book Club in September 2018 made it a word-of-mouth hit, it sold more than a million by the end of the following year.

Still, like many of us, some have found out a book club has a shelf life. 

Harry Potter’s Emma Watson started a high-profile feminist book club 2016 (example title: Every Woman’s Guide To Saving The Planet), but eventually announced that she’d be stepping away from it.

While Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site Goop has a book club ( — it doesn’t seem to have been updated since last summer. 

To track her reading habits, you’d be better off going to Instagram, where she mostly recommends cookbooks (she says, ‘I will read a cookbook like a novel’).

So, where does it all end? Witherspoon Press? Perhaps more likely than you think.

Pictured here at the film premiere of Where the Crawdads Sing, Reese Witherpoon helped make Delia Owens’s novel into a word-of-mouth hit by including it in Reese’s Book Club in September 2018 

Already, Sarah Jessica Parker, Fearne Cotton and rapper Stormzy are among the celebrities who have gone one better than a book club, with their own publishing imprints. 

Meanwhile, if you take a look at the self-help book Us, by Terence Real, that Gwyneth recommended, it’s published by Goop Press, part of Penguin Random House.

In the meantime, here are the best celebrity book clubs, how to read along with them, and their best picks for this summer . . .


Between concerts, the 27-year-old singer has launched a monthly book club via her new website,, which bills itself as ‘the ultimate cultural concierge’.

Each month, her ‘personally chosen’ book will be announced via the website’s book club page, accompanied by author Q&As, discussion guides and reading lists.

But don’t expect strictly rock ’n’ roll reads (Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Fleetwood Mac-inspired love story Daisy Jones & The Six, perhaps?), prepare for more wide-ranging tastes: Dua’s shared a photo of a stack of books including Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker Prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other, and Stephen King’s The Institute.

Pick of the crop: June’s recommendation — her first as this book club is still very new — is Douglas Stuart’s 2020 debut and Book Prizewinner Shuggie Bain, the story of a young boy growing up with an alcoholic mother in 1980s Glasgow.

Online, Dua provides a playlist to sounds that evoke Shuggie’s hometown, from Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy to Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved.

You can find your perfect summer read from amongst the books recommended by celebrities including Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Jessica Parker and Dua Lipa, all of whom have their own book clubs


The Royal Family aren’t known for being bookish, so Camilla broke with tradition when, during the pandemic lockdowns, she started sharing her favourite books on Instagram — beginning with Charlie Mackesy and his illustrated The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse.

That online book club grew into literary charity The Queen’s Reading Room, which held its first festival this month, and now shares books chosen for their educative, literary or historic merit and, somewhat ominously, are ‘rigorously judged by the charity’s board of trustees’.

But don’t worry, you can filter them to select those personally chosen by Her Majesty. 

Her eclectic but accessible picks encompass everything from Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy (‘his consistently charming characters become friends’, says Camilla) to Elizabeth Gilbert’s City Of Girls (‘a world of theatre and show girls that I never wanted to leave’).

To follow along, visit royal to sign up for the monthly newsletter and to find her favourites, or head over to the Instagram feed (@thequeens readingroom) for recommendations and literary titbits.

Pick of the crop: Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus tells the tale of scientist-turned-cooking-show host Elizabeth Zott, who brings a revolutionary approach to 1960s housewives. 

‘Warm, witty and wise; Lessons In Chemistry had me hooked from the start’, is Camilla’s verdict.


Talk about a Hollywood big hitter — reads chosen by Reese Witherspoon for her monthly book club race up the best-seller charts, and are often turned into films and TV series.

Does she simply have the magic touch or is she is plugged into which are going to be publishing’s big-ticket books? 

A bit of both, to be fair. She’d been talking about books for years on her Instagram, before she officially launched the book club in 2017; it is now a formal part of her production company. 

She loves a domestic thriller, as well as issue-based narratives that get you thinking — the key note is that a woman has to be driving the story.

Past picks included Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere (which became a TV series), Delia Owens’ Where The Crawdads Sing (now a movie) and Glennon Doyle’s hit memoir Untamed (in development for television).

Reese announces her picks to 2.6 million followers of her dedicated Instagram feed (@reesesbookclub), or sign up to the newsletter available via

Pick of the crop: The very first Reese’s Book Club pick was Scottish author Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, the hilarious yet moving tale of a misfit heroine trying to find happiness (and clever Reese had already optioned the film rights). 

This was a huge international best-seller, and Eleanor has since spawned a raft of quirky, offbeat heroines in tribute.


After in-demand model Kaia Gerber started her book club on Instagram during the pandemic, it’s ballooned into a regular event — she tends to give a date by which followers should read the book, as she’ll then go live with the book’s author to discuss it.

She says: ‘When people come up to me and tell me that they follow my book club, it’s the highest compliment. I didn’t think people were going to respond the way that they have.’

She’s talking predominantly to a Gen Z/millennial crowd, albeit with crossover appeal (‘Reading now!’ says her mum Cindy Crawford in the comments).

The first book this year was Richard Powers’ climate-themed epic novel The Overstory, ‘as an entry to discussing climate activism, social justice and environmental health’.

Naturally, fellow model Emily Ratajkowski has been invited on to discuss her book of essays, My Body.

To join in, follow @kaiagerber on Instagram and watch out for her next recommendation.

Pick of the crop: Recent recommendation Honey, Baby, Mine sees Laura Dern in conversation with her mother Diane Ladd, also an acclaimed actress, ‘on everything from life and death to love, sex, art . . . and banana pudding’, says Kaia.

(Capping off the book’s showbiz-literary connection, Reese Witherspoon wrote the foreword).


Best known for playing writer Carrie in Sex And The City, offscreen, Sarah Jessica Parker also has a literary bent. 

She has launched a book imprint, SJP Lit, with independent publisher Zando, to publish ‘sweeping, expansive, thought-provoking and big-hearted stories that are inclusive of international and underrepresented voices’.

Its first release, out this month, is Elysha Chang’s debut novel, A Quitter’s Paradise, which SJP calls ‘a glorious, pondering, heart-breaking, extremely funny, very special book’, about a young woman struggling to cope with her mother’s death.

But it’s far from the first dip into publishing from the star, who also runs an informal book club via her Instagram (@sarahjessica parker), where she shares her favourites — they lean towards the literary and serious, such as Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief (‘heart-breaking’) and Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads (‘Mr. Franzen did it. Again.’).

‘It’s the least controversial thing I feel like I can do on Instagram,’ SJP says. ‘So I’m always happy to do it.’

Pick of the crop: Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Could the Southern author ever rival the brilliance of her thrilling 1992 debut The Secret History?

Not quite — but her third novel is still a fascinating, sprawling read, and beloved by SJP, who calls it ‘one of my all-time most favourite books’.

Source: Read Full Article