June 26, 2022

From Reese Witherspoon to SJP, the rise of celebrity book clubs

NEW YORK (AP) — Jimmy Fallon recalls a summer a few years ago when it seemed like everyone was reading Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.”

“Everyone had this book. If we were entertaining or going on vacation by the pool, people had this book crumpled up and curled up. I read it with my wife and we read each chapter together and we were like, ‘(gasps) That’s great!’ It was the smallest book club in the world,” he laughed.

This summer, Fallon decided to expand her book club two to include her late-night audience. In June, he launched “Tonight Show Summer Reads”. Fallon presented five book options on her show and asked viewers to go online and vote for their favorite. The results exceeded his expectations with 140,000 votes. The winner was “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi.

“Any way to engage the audience and do things with them is always more fun,” Fallon said.

He also enthusiastically followed the books‘ performance on Amazon after a mention on his show. The company confirms that it has had an impact.

“When a celebrity decides to get behind a book, we usually see an increase in sales,” said Chris Schluep, editor at Amazon. “For example, ‘Children of Blood and Bone’ sold well this year. But the week after Jimmy Fallon selected it as the top pick of the “Tonight Show” book club, it sold nearly three times the number of print, Kindle and Audible books it had sold the previous week on Amazon.

Fallon isn’t the only celebrity to follow in Oprah Winfrey’s footsteps with a book club. Reese Witherspoon has made his monthly literary picks so successful that editors are now putting Reese stickers on his picks.

“It’s fantastic and we’re having a great experience,” said Witherspoon, who has bought the rights to many of his picks to adapt for film or television. One of his selections, Celeste Ng’s “Little Fires Everywhere” will be a limited series on Hulu starring Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

The Oscar-winning actress has also teamed up with audio producer-distributor Audible on audio recordings of her selections.

Emma Roberts has turned her lifelong love of reading into a pet project she calls Belletrist. A website and social media for Belletrist celebrates all things books. Every month they offer a new book to read and even an independent bookstore to check out.

“Belletrist is my baby,” said Roberts, who runs the site with her partner, Karah Preiss.

She says there are “no criteria” for the books she features because her personal tastes are so varied, but she tends to learn to highlight female authors.

She wants to create a community for Belletrist followers to share their thoughts and ideas about what they read.

Sarah Jessica Parker is so into reading that she’s teamed up with the American Library Association to share her own suggestions. The goal, she says, is not only to get people reading, but also to support their own local libraries.

When Parker was approached by the Hogarth publishing house to launch her own imprint, her respect for writing initially made her think it was not a good idea.

“I didn’t think I had the experience and had too much respect for people who have been in publishing for a long time,” she said. But then Parker thought it might be a way to help champion works in the literary fiction space that isn’t always so commercial. SJP’s first novel in print for Hogarth, “A Place for Us” by Fatima Farheen Mirza, is a New York Times bestseller.

Parker said she also likes to post about books on social media because it’s a safe topic.

Books are “the only thing I can talk about on Instagram that isn’t controversial,” she said. “Everyone wants to talk about their favorite books or their feelings about books and share title recommendations. I mean, it’s a huge exchange of information and excitement and that’s definitely the hard part. easier of my relationship with social media.

Like Witherspoon, Roberts and Parker are open to the idea of ​​giving a book they recommend the Hollywood treatment.

“One of the most exciting things about reading is thinking about how to bring it to life. I’m still imagining the show or the movie. We live in exciting times,” Roberts said.

Parker stresses that his goal is above all to help the author.

“I’m really here for the purest intentions – to introduce new writers to readers. And if the opportunity exists for there to be a discussion about television or movie rights, I would definitely participate in those conversations. But this is in no way my motivation.


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