The Power and Ever-Growing Popularity of Celebrity Book Clubs

by Erin Poche`

Celebrity Book Clubs are all the rage, with countless well-known personalities launching their own reading groups. These bibliophiles can’t help spreading their passion for the written word. It’s also a great way for Hollywood moguls to improve their brands, connect with their fanbase and engage readers.

Not surprisingly, book clubs generally tend to be dominated by women, heavy on the host and reader side. Still, we found a few men book lovers sharing their faves. Former President Barack Obama has a list he posts of his top book choices. Actor LeVar Burton moderates a book club on Fable, a book club app for social reading. So if you’re searching for your next novel, see what the celebutantes have on their bookshelves. Here are a few of the top noteworthy celebrity book clubs.

Oprah’s Book Club

Celebrity Book Clubs: Oprah's Book Club
Celebrity Book Clubs: Oprah’s Book Club

The book club trend started with celebrated talk show host Oprah Winfrey in the late 1990s. The Book Club Queen made reading hip again by highlighting her favorite authors’ books, both fiction and non-fiction, for fans to peruse and chat about each month. A nod from the grand Lady O was guaranteed to shoot a book to the top of the best-sellers list and increase book sales by several million copies.

However, the O Book Club was not without controversy. As many recall Oprah chastising author James Frey for his memoir A Million Little Pieces when several inconsistencies came to light. Oprah didn’t take lightly the Smoking Gun Report, titled “The Man Who Conned Oprah,” and confronted him on her show. The episode made TV Guide’s Top 25 Best Moments in television history.

Then there was the Jonathan Franzen ordeal. Oprah picked Franzen’s National Book Award-winning novel, The Corrections, but Franzen refuted the honor citing his uncomfortableness being categorized among lesser-than-highbrow literary works. Winfrey quickly withdrew an invitation for the writer to appear on her show. She later forgave Franzen and invited him back for his next book, Freedom. Though a darling of the critics, the damage may have been cast as many philistines and female writers continue to rebuke the novelist.

Winfrey took a hiatus from the club for a while, but Oprah’s Book Club is now back on AppleTV+. With Apple’s paid subscription, you can watch her sit down with novelists and discuss the book in detail.

Reese’s Book Club

Celebrity Book Clubs: Reese's Book Club
Celebrity Book Clubs: Reese’s Book Club

Actress Reese Witherspoon formulated Reese’s Book Club on the heels of Oprah, featuring a variety of women’s literature from romance to mysteries and thrillers. Reese’s latest book feature is Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. Reese’s picks often coincide with her producing creds, such as the latest Amazon Prime’s Daisy Jones & the Six, based on the book of the same name by author Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Reese picked Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and starred in the screen adaptation. Check out Reese’s website, and if you purchase from her Readership pay-it-forward platform, proceeds promote diverse voices in literature. Today praise from Reese can skyrocket book sales and spread a writer’s marketing campaign like wildfire, as do these other celebrity book clubs.

The TODAY Show’s

“Read with Jenna” Book Club

Jenna Bush Hager’s #ReadwithJenna is a segment of the TODAY Show, where Bush Hager chooses a new book to share with audiences every month. Jenna heralds Bookshop, an online retailer that supports local bookstores. Her book recommendations, like the latest Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown, challenge readers and support diverse writers. You can get Jenna’s short summaries and personal book reviews on the TODAY website.

Celebrity Book Clubs: Read with Jenna
Celebrity Book Clubs: Read with Jenna

Netflix Book Club

Netflix Book Club Picks
Netflix Book Club Picks

The streaming channel Netflix is a surprising addition to the celeb book club world. Netflix presents a show hosted by American actress Uzo Aduba. In each episode, Aduba sits down with the stars and writers behind Netflix’s latest book to screen adaptations. In the “But Have You Read the Book” segment, Aduba moderates the conversion from print to screen.

The Netflix Book Club Series unveils novel selections monthly. The latest featured book is Netflix’s adaptation of Sarah Dessen’s novel, Along for the Ride. Other books turned into streaming series include Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan, Harlan Coben’s Stay Close and mega-hit Bridgerton. The successful show hailed from an eight-book series by author Julia Quinn. Other book club adaptation discussions coming soon to Netflix include We Were Never Here—the New York Times best-selling novel by author Andrea Bartz. The mystery thriller was originally a Reese Book Club pick back in 2021.

Good Morning America Book Club

Good Morning America Book Picks
Good Morning America Book Picks

In 2019 the highly rated a.m. show Good Morning America started its book club, showcasing book picks from a wide range of authors. Each month, GMA picks a new book to read from a diverse pool. Some top selections include Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti, We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Ashley Audrain’s The Push. Browse the GMA’s library to see if anything piques your interest.

If none of these star-studded guilds light your literary fire, more VIP book clubs are popping up all over Tinseltown. Try Emma Roberts’ Belletrist Book Club, Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Book Recommendations; even Gwyneth Paltrow has a Goop Book Club. All of which can be found on their social media feeds. Happy Reading!

Celebrity Book Clubs
Celebrity Book Clubs