Celebrity book clubs I’d actually like to join.

Brittany Allen

March 26, 2024, 2:23pm

These days you can’t swing a paperback—though, why would you swing a paperback—without hitting a new celebrity book club. First came Oprah, then Reese, then followed a whole succession of willowy blondes with apparent downtime and (judging from Insta) poolside access. The trend continues apace, it seems—we see you, Dakota Johnsonbut I feel there are some gaps in the current celebriterary landscape. So in the spirit of democratic trendsetting, here are some stars I’d personally be glad to follow into the subscription-based stacks:

Paul Giamatti

O captain our captain, our fussy king. Some of us already look to Paul for his literary bona fides. He majored in English Lit at Yale, has a legendary shelving situation, and still messes with antique philosophy on his podcast, “Chinwag” (actual title!). I’d like to examine undersung classics alongside such a man of letters. And just imagine the crossover appeal—at last, a book club for you and your grandpa. 

Subscribers could expect: Homeric translations of the Emily Wilson school; the poetry of A.E. Stallings; hyper-erudite campus novels.

Jeremy O. Harris

You’re probably already acquainted with the supreme elder enfant terrible–if not from his films/plays/productions/acting-or-modeling appearances, than from his tweets. Across all platforms, Harris models a knack for the never boring. The to-read pile at his place is one I’d like to peep. 

Subscribers could expect: genre-bending, form-exploding, absurdist auto-fiction; knife-deep satires; memoirs of influencer-turned-authors raised on peak auteur television.

Dames Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, and Joan Plowright

If you have not already spent an afternoon vicariously sipping spirits in the company of Britain’s real royals, may I be the first to suggest you improve your life immediately and hie thee to AcornTV. Though in their gossipy special, Tea with the Dames, backstage reflections rule the day and nary a “book” is mentioned, one supposes these old friends would have great recommendations. (Also, I just like to picture them convening regularly, to chat. Over tea…) 

Subscribers could expect: murder mysteries, extra-catty actor biographies, Muriel Spark re-issues

Lucy Dacus

Our favorite feeling alto, and one third of the supergroup boygenius, has been delighting her followers with canny, considered book recommendations for years. (Her Goodreads profile is one of the few arguments I can still make for the site.) Between a current Annie Ernaux spree and her own ever-poignant lyricism, I’m ready to follow LD into the dark…er corners of an indie bookstore. 

Subscribers should expect: soulful contemporary poets like Ada Limón and Jericho Brown; psychological, interior character studies featuring shy femme protagonists, bildungsro(wo)men.

George Takei

Look. I know, in my human brain, that the actor George Takei is not Sulu, the character he plays on Star Trek. Just as Roman deBeers, the embittered author on the sitcom Party Down, is not the actor Martin Starr. That said. Let us briefly imagine a world where the Romans of this world compete for a certain sci-fi legend’s monthly sticker of approval. Given Takei’s reliably twinkly social media presence, I’m betting he’d be a kind, discerning judge of strange new worlds and “hard sci-fi.”

Subscribers could expect: intrepid dystopian fiction, the Red Mars series, Octavia Butler, the Earthsea trilogy.

Honorable mentions: 

Dolly Parton, who is wonderful, and already has a book club (for small babies, in Tennessee)

Chloe Sevigny, who wants us to read more books, anyway

Ziwe, for she is already our trickster Oprah, and

Cole Escola, for reasons I’m not entirely prepared to explain. Though I think subscribers to their club could expect: zines, absurdist international imports, VERY experimental fiction, and bawdy gothic novels. 

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