Inside Reese Witherspoon’s Literary Empire

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Jeff O'Neal is the executive editor of Book Riot and Panels. He also co-hosts The Book Riot Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @thejeffoneal.

Inside Reese Witherspoon’s Literary Empire

This profile in The New York Times by Elisabeth Egan is the most detailed look yet at how Witherspoon and her book club think, operate, and influence. There’s real intention in how Witherspoon picks (even to the point of choosing lighter reads in May and December when women, who comprise the bulk of her audience, are especially busy). And while surely it is a positive for any book to get picked for the book club, the examples here seem cherry-picked; the first three selections did quite well, but they were also the first three; a five-year-old novel saw a “10,000 percent” increase in sales; one author became the first in her family to own a home. But not every (many, most?) pick sees a huge lift as far as I can tell. All in all, Witherspoon and her book-picking staff come off as well-intentioned and entrepreneurial. Which in the world of books is much-needed.

Future 2024 Bestsellers

Kirkus makes the case that these upcoming books should be bestsellers. I don’t know if that should is about probability, merit, prognostication, or some combination, but the lists serve as a good, succinct preview of the new couple of seasons in books. Some are on trend (romantasy anyone) and some are well-timed (hard to imagine Kent State having a more meaningful moment to come out) and some seem like a little bit of wishful thinking (I will read a book about refrigeration. Just not sure enough other people will for it to chart).

Buy Yourself a Gift Card

Really liked this piece by Barry Petchesky at Defector about buying yourself a bookstore gift card. Of course, you could always just buy books without one, but the gift card is a “hack” for making sure you actually spend on books, especially locally. I love getting bookstore gift cards as gifts, as I find the process of taking time to go to the store, wandering around for a while, and finally deciding on something to be as much a part of the gift as the book itself. And if you lose the gift card or never use it, that’s money for the store guaranteed.

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