Emma Watson

Celebrity Book Clubs Create Virtual Reading Community

More than half of 2017 has passed and your new year resolution to read more books has somehow give way to your busy schedules. According to a recent survey by the Reading Agency, 60% of people would like to read more often but feel too busy to read. For other occasions, you’ve picked up a book or two but they were just too difficult to get through.


In any case, what you need is some motivation. Numerous celebrities have decided to encourage reading by becoming bookstagrammers or launching their own online book club. However, is the star-shared experience genuinely dedicated to reading or are they merely vanity exercises to promote their intelligent side? At the moment, the main players of the game are Reese Witherspoon, Florence Welch, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zoella and Emma Roberts.


“It would be easy to be cynical about this new trend but it has its merits,” says Claire Armitstead, associate editor for culture at the Guardian.


“These celebrities want to show they are intelligent people and not just celebrities, that’s perhaps their motive for it.


“But what they bring is their brand. There are so many books in the world that any kind of ‘sorting hat’, to use a Harry Potter term, is a good thing for reading.”


After the success of previous book-hiding missions in London, Emma Watson has started another one-woman crusade to share copies of the Handmaid’s Tale around her birth city of Paris. On her club Our Shared Shelf (OSS) on the Goodreads website that was launched in 2016 after her appointment as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and her HeForShe speech, she’s been pointing her followers towards some powerful feminist titles that will hopefully transform our generation’s perception of woman. Every two months, she updates her 193,000-plus audience group with an interesting read for a thoughtful discussion. In addition, she has also been active on Instagram to further promote reading experiences.



@oursharedshelf’s March & April book is #WomenWhoRunWiththeWolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes ?

A post shared by Emma Watson (@emmawatson) on


“Emma Watson with her feminist classics is placing herself as a young thinking woman but doing it through her position as a UN ambassador is quite structured,” says Armitstead. “Similarly, if someone wants to project themselves as a fun person they are going to choose fun books.


Another celebrity bookworm on this list is Florence Welch. Her Twitter platform called The F+tM Club promotes a wide variety of literature for discussion. Moreover, her fan website also promotes the club. Initially, this club was started by a group of Welch enthusiasts in dedication to her passion for books but the singer happily joined later upon request. Welch often interacts with her 11,000+ followers on this account and even offers opportunities to meet her at book events such as the Borris Festival.


Recently, the American Library Association has announced a partnership with award-winning actress Sarah Jessica Parker to launch Book Club Central. Parker will act as the honorary chair who will be responsible for sharing reading experiences through book recommendations and discussions. The first book recommended by Parker is Stephanie Powell’s No One is Coming to Save Us.


“From an early age, books were my constant companions and my local library a place I could find a new friend on every shelf,” Parker said in an announcement. “I’m thrilled to help champion original voices for dedicated readers as well as for a new generation, supporting libraries in what they do best.”


Also launched in 2017 is the Zoella Book Club and its overwhelming impact on teenage girls as well as the publishing industry should not be ignored. Despite noting to viewers that it is a “paid-for advertorial”, her video promoting book selections was viewed fore more than 400,000 times. After this enthusiastic promotion, one of the picks, The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward saw a dramatic increase from 26,447 to 287 on the Amazon book chart.



Image Courtesy of Zoella.co.uk


On social media platforms, stars love to show and spread their passion for books and Reese Witherspoon is one of the avid book-lovers you should not miss. Every now and then, Witherspoon posts book recommendations on her Instagram account. For further updates, instagrammers should follow #RWBookClub.



? + ? + @draperjames = ? #ForTheLoveOfReading #BackyardReadingSession

A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on



Similarly, Emma Roberts also started her own bookish community on Instagram called the Belletrist last year. For discussions, you can join the Facebook group called Belletrist Books.



following @cbmaum advice to “always keep your face in a book” ?? #belletristbabe #touchthenovel #touchVStech

A post shared by Belletrist (@belletrist) on


and she reads Witherspoon’s recommendations too!



except, of course, for #biglittlelies ✨ #reeseforever

A post shared by Belletrist (@belletrist) on


Last but not least, of course we haven’t forgotten about Oprah’s impressive force on the publishing world. Her recent book club pick to the world  Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. is something we’d all like to gain our hands on.



The truth is, authors always love celebrity endorsement because sales get bumped up instantly following their recommendations. However, whether we read these books after posting about them online is a question that only we know for ourselves. Although celebrity book clubs have wielded largely positive impacts so far, their future prosperity remains uncertain.



“They have a shelf-life and people like Emma Watson will get bored and start looking for the next new thing,” says Claire Armitstead.



Featured Image Courtesy of Elle