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Shelf Storytelling: Reese’s Book Club

Published on February 3, 2020, at 9:34 p.m.
by Hannah Taylor.

As I walk into Barnes & Noble, the first thing I see is a warm, sunny yellow circle shining proudly over a stack of books. It’s the unmistakable, halo-like symbol of Reese’s Book Club, and for authors everywhere, that stamp of approval is as good as solid gold.

Courtesy of Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram

Reese Witherspoon started her online book club unofficially in 2015. Two years later, her media company Hello Sunshine took over the club’s operations and began scheduling its content production. Each month, Witherspoon selects a book and shares it with the club’s 1.4 million followers on Instagram. A quick scroll through the New York Times Best Sellers lists reveals the rewards authors reap once chosen.

While Reese’s Book Club can do wonders for a book’s unit sales, it’s also a masterclass in the art of storytelling. Here are five things we can learn from the actress, producer, entrepreneur and bonafide literary tastemaker.

Build a community
On Jan. 23, @ReesesBookClub asked its followers how far along they were in January’s pick, “Such a Fun Age,” by Kylie Reid. Over 1,100 people responded. Bold, blue graphics with the hashtag #ReadWithReese consistently grace the Instagram feed, asking the readers discussion questions. Driving conversation about each month’s book is a primary source of engagement for the account, and these conversations strengthen the connection among readers.

Stay on brand
From her movie roles to real life, Witherspoon’s image is wrapped up in being an avid reader. You might envision her as a determined Elle Woods with a law book in hand, or simply as herself, sitting on her couch with a book club pick. Reading and Reese just go together.

Courtesy of Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram

Be authentic
Witherspoon has said that she often goes through three-to-four books a week. Being chosen for Reese’s Book Club is the best publicity that money can’t buy, because readers know that each book is one that the literary guru genuinely loves.

Change the narrative
Every month’s pick is by a female author and features a woman driving the story. “All of our book picks have that in common,” Hello Sunshine CEO Sarah Harden was quoted in a Variety article. “Our company is founded on the belief that storytelling can shift culture, and if we can shift culture, we can shift the way that women get to walk through the world.”

Credibility is crucial
Witherspoon is one of the few actresses with the star power to resonate with multiple generations of women.

Courtesy of

Whether you grew up watching her in iconic films such as “Legally Blonde” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” or became a fan after her powerhouse performance in HBO’s adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s “Big Little Lies,” Witherspoon is a household name. With that kind of recognizability comes the trust of millions of readers.

Of her desire to change the landscape for women in entertainment and beyond, Witherspoon said in a Hollywood Reporter article, “I don’t want to just admire problems, and I certainly don’t want to leave this business the same way that I found it.”

If the trailblazing achievements of Reese’s Book Club are any indication, there’s no limit to what the power of good storytelling, and a little bit of sunshine, can do.

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