Walking amongst the tables at Barnes and Noble, you might see one dedicated to adaptations, new releases, or even 50% off sales. Lurking amongst them lies the celebrity book club picks, the lucky books chosen to reside on Oprah Winfrey’s or Reese Witherspoon’s recommended list. These book clubs raise a number of questions, chief among them being “what does (insert obscure celebrity name) even know about books?”
The answers to that question may vary among the vast array of public figures, from Jimmy Fallon to Emma Roberts, Andrew Luck to Jenna Bush. Dedicated readers may be jaded by these clubs and their tendency to choose already bestselling novels, or culminate lists that the celebrity in question didn’t even read. How many literary gems have been cast to the wayside in favor of their much more marketed cousin? Far too many.
These clubs may even recycle a handful of bestsellers, and although they are bestsellers for a reason, this can isolate the reading pool to a certain circle of novels that take up way too much space in the literary world. On top of this, these book clubs can target very specific audiences, and thus choose books that tell very similar stories already seen countless times. While some celebrities, or their trusted team given the task of assembling their monthly reading list, put together diverse story selections, others opt for the heteronormative, white storyline found in novels for decades. Can we expect celebrities of the same description to choose diverse voices in their novels? That might be a question for another time.
On the bright side, these celebrity reading lists are getting people to crack open a book that otherwise might not do so. When you want to read and don’t know where to start, looking to your favorite celebrity’s book club might not be a bad idea. For an aspirin reader that might be overwhelmed by the myriad of choices presented by sellers like Amazon or brick and mortar stores like Barnes and Noble, the celebrity book club could stand as a targeted selection of novels they’ll actually enjoy.
These clubs also attract attention to lesser-known authors and their novels. While bestsellers may permeate these lists, the occasional find gives a boost to first-time storytellers in a big way. A celebrity stamp of approval definitely doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to break into the literary scene.
The celebrity book club may even be experiencing a revolution. Rapper No Name started her own book club in response to the personal renaissance she underwent by reading about Black history and culture. Her book club seeks to do the same for its members, opening their eyes to diverse struggles experienced all over the world. While she may not be as monumentally famous as Oprah, she is still managing to reach a relatively young and diverse fanbase, and help create a more informed public.
So, celebrity book clubs might clutter bookstores and accidentally keep popular book circles closed to new additions, but the concept as a whole deserves more attention. Afterall, if you want to reach an audience, one of the best ways to do so is through their pages.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDITS: CELEBRITY BOOK CLUB SPOILERS, MROWL, TWITTER @NONAMEBOOKS