Bespoke Living

Turn Your Reading Resolution into Reality with Some Star Inspiration

Reach your goal to read more this year with our roundup of celebrity book clubs to suit every taste—plus, three home libraries that’ll inspire you to set up a reading room, too

The history of book clubs includes groups started by some of the world’s most famous bibliophiles. Benjamin Franklin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Virginia Woolf, and, of course, Oprah Winfrey routinely provided inspiration to those in their reading circles—and, in the case of Winfrey, catapulted titles to the top of bestseller lists.

So, if you’re looking for a great book or simply want to find a likeminded group of readers, look no further. And, once you’ve found your page-turner of choice, we’ve also got inspiration in the form of stunning home libraries to set up a reading nook that you’ll love all year round.

Oprah’s Book Club

Michelle Obama is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey about her new book 'Becoming'
An estimated two million members belong to the original Oprah’s Book Club. Her picks range from classics by authors such as Dickens and Tolstoy, to contemporary topical titles, including Becoming by Michelle Obama. Image: Alamy

“What has been most meaningful about my book club,” Winfrey says, “is being able to connect with bibliophiles all over the world. I love listening to and learning from their insights. And when I read a sentence that I’m over the moon about, or when something happens to a character I’ve come to care about, I’m always thrilled to see there are others out there who are experiencing the same.”

That’s really the essence of being in a book club—the exchange of ideas and insights. Oprah’s group has been going for more than 25 years, during which it has had sabbaticals and re-launches. Despite this, there has been little shift in its core purpose: to provide readers with books that entertain, educate, and provoke thought and discussion.

Her choices for 2021 included The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris and, most recently, Bewilderment by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Powers. And 2022’s selections are likely to be just as inspiring. This book club/global phenomenon is the one for you if you’d like to grow your world view along with your bookshelf.

The Andrew Luck Book Club

Quarterback Andrew Luck carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins in Maryland in 2018
Thanks to his passion for reading, the Wall Street Journal once dubbed former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck “the NFL’s unofficial librarian.” He uses his platform to share his love of books with an even larger audience. Image: Alamy

Book clubs, whether celebrity-led or not, are often run and attended by women. But this one, founded by former American football quarterback Andrew Luck, bucks the trend. He states his reason for starting it clearly and succinctly—to build a team of readers at all levels.

It couldn’t be more laid-back: Luck periodically chooses two books, one for “rookies” (younger folks) and the other for “veterans” (more seasoned readers), and off they go. Interviews with writers and regular reminders provide inspiration to keep your reading on track. There’s no signing up or subscription—people read the books and then post their comments and photos on social media with the hashtag #ALBookClub.

Luck’s current picks include Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and David Simon’s Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. It’s the right group for you if you’re looking to get back into reading with a no-fuss, no-pressure approach.

Belletrist

Emma Roberts attends the 68th National Book Awards
An avid reader, Emma Roberts has channeled her hobby into finding titles that speak to a millennial book-loving audience. “We wanted to create a place where it was easy to find things that you know you’re going to like,” she says. Image: Alamy

Actor Emma Roberts and film producer Karah Preiss have built a friendship on their shared passion for reading. Having enjoyed exchanging books and their thoughts on them, they decided, in 2017, to start Belletrist—an online “literary destination.”

“We started on Instagram,” says Preiss, “but our ambitions for Belletrist were bigger than that. We wanted to help people cultivate a literary life in its broadest sense.” Of course, this encompasses a love for books, but it extends beyond that to supporting independent stores and promoting reading as essential to mental health.

Make this group your choice if, as well as a monthly book pick, you’re looking for more in-depth inspiration such as discussions with writers and a virtual look through authors’ bookshelves and what they’re currently reading.

Reese’s Book Club

Reese Witherspoon in a red dress at an interview of her cookbook
Named the “new high priestess of book clubs” by Vox, Reese Witherspoon’s choices have resulted in titles selling millions of copies and spending months at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Image: Alamy

Like Winfrey before her, Reese Witherspoon can launch writers into the stratosphere simply by mentioning their books to her fans. Launched informally in 2015, Reese’s Book Club became a sleek business operation in 2017 when it started being run in tandem with her media company, Hello Sunshine. So far, it’s secured film rights to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl; Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere; and Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

Each month, Witherspoon picks two books she loves (one for adults, one for a younger audience). All her choices have a woman at the center of the story, and there is a commitment to champion new writers and those from diverse backgrounds. Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean, Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo, and We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz were among the books chosen in 2021.

Join Reese’s club if you’re looking for a range of popular reads balanced with thought-provoking page-turners, as well as one of the most positive communities of online followers around.

3 Home Libraries to Amp Up the Inspiration

A home library with art and velvet chaise lounges
The library of this Ibiza home features exotic wood finishes, hand-painted bookshelves, rich fabrics, and fine art and antiques, making it the perfect place to immerse yourself in its range of classic books.

With its clifftop location and surrounding sea views, this six-bedroom villa was built not only to celebrate nature but also the arts and senses. The property’s priceless contents—including a historically significant collection of Coptic crosses; a 13th-century wooden Mudejar paneled ceiling in the sitting room; and the fine art adorning the walls of its library—are included in its sale. It is currently on the market with Estela Exclusive Homes.

A wood-panelled library with parquet flooring and leather sofa
With more than 17,000 square feet (1,580 sq m) of living space, which takes in a wood-paneled library set over two floors and filled with antique fixtures, this Michigan mansion feels like a literary escape from another era.

Situated on almost 12 acres (4.85 ha), this Tringali-designed, six-bedroom, four full baths masterpiece—available through Hall & Hunter Realtors—is one of the finest single-family residences in Bloomfield Township. Warm mahogany, antique fixtures, and beautiful stained-glass windows and skylights feature throughout its interiors, including the incredible two-story library with a striking spiral staircase. Other highlights include a turret sunroom, a wine cellar, and magnificent landscaped grounds and gardens, through which the Rouge River runs.

A modern library with large French window and floor to ceiling book shelves
This modern home in Cascais, Portugal, is dedicated to finding moments of quiet escape, both within the spectacular light-filled private library, as well as its leisure area, which features a home gym, sauna, Turkish bath, and indoor swimming pool.

On the market with Porta de Frente, Lda, this sleek, stylish, and contemporary quinta, considered to be the most secure and exclusive gated residential development in Portugal, exudes pure sophistication. The large ground-level library-cum-study boasts double-height ceilings and a fireplace, and sits alongside a generous lounge, which leads to a terrace and garden. The fairy-tale town of Sintra is only five minutes away by car.

Banner image: Christin Hume, Unsplash