Reese Witherspoon has been a public figure long before some of us were born, she’s a great actress who will have been a student of literature most of her acting career.
While her acting credits have slowed down in recent years, her book club has recently become even more popular and moved from being an informal thing she did on her social media to now a more marketable website, with a long list of book recommendations that book clubs love to devour.
In this article, we are going to suggest some books that Reese has recommended, but we’re going to pick our favorite from her recommendation lists.
Hopefully, the titles we have chosen will be the next recommendation for your book club that will really stir up the chat and impress all those in the club.
Best Reese Witherspoon Book Recommendations
Find out below which books from Reese’s reading list we also recommend for your own book club.
This was Reese’s September 2020 pick for Young Adult fiction, she suggested the book would ‘set your dreams on fire’, not in the burning down kind of way but more in a passionate way, showing you all your dreams are possible.
Méndez is an Argentine author, one country that loves soccer, or ‘football’, or actually ‘fútbol’ in this circumstance.
Yet, female soccer players would still face significant challenges and discrimination, something the main character of the novel struggles with.
The novel focuses around 17 year old Camila Hassan.
While her self-conscious mother and controlling father focus more on her soccer-playing older brother, it is Camila who sets the world aflame playing soccer in her own time, while her family thinks she is studying for medical school.
All points towards the local Sudamericano tournament which, if Camila performs well, she could earn a contract to play in an American Female Soccer team.
Her passion earns her the nickname ‘la Fúria’ from her coach and fellow players, meaning ‘the Fury’.
Her plans are derailed, as they often are, by a love interest.
She meets her childhood friend Diego who returns to town, with his own flair for soccer, playing for the highly-rated Italian soccer team Juventus.
When he takes her for a date and they fall in love, their rivaling dreams of playing soccer seem to get in each other’s way, and Camila must decide which matters to her more.
- Raising interesting topics for discussion in a book club
- Strong female lead
- Good romantic narrative
- Great for younger readers
- If you don’t like soccer this might annoy some readers.
This was Reese’s pick for June 2020 and is a crime novel based around a wedding reception and a murder.
The novel depicts an Instagram-perfect wedding, a beautiful bride and groom of celebrity status seeking a fairytale wedding on an island off the coast of Ireland.
Guests of the bride and groom gather on the island dressed to the nines and smoothed over with booze and the setting that is intoxicating itself.
This semi-closed room mystery depicts how this perfect wedding doesn’t go to plan, as a murder occurs. With all the guests seemingly stuck on the island, it must have been one of them.
With multiple points of view depicting the backstory of each guest, the read-turned-sleuth can use their character judging skills to decide who is lying and who is innocent.
There is lots of backstory and dialogue, as well as funny wedding mishaps, and it can take a while for the novel to get going but it certainly unravels quickly when it does.
As the action starts to unfold there is lots of discussion of modern topics, such as revenge porn, and more, for your book club to discuss, as well as a final reveal of the true killer and their motivations which always draws the best discussions from a book club.
For a quick mystery-thriller to read on the beach, it’s not that bad, although it’s no Agatha Christie.
- Fun modern stories and discussion points
- A fun mystery that unfolds
- A good setting for the novel
- The right amount of sauciness for a modern adult audience
- Maybe not enough action for some readers
- Some explicit discussion makes it perhaps unsuitable for younger readers
This was Reese’s November 2019 pick, for Witherspoon she described it as ‘a great narrative about personal strength and […] how books bring communities together’.
Based on a true story, Alice Wright moves from small-town England to small-town Kentucky after marrying Bennett Van Cleve with their unfolding story set in the shadow of Depression-era America.
With an overbearing father-in-law, and the claustrophobic climate of 30s Kentucky, Alice finds solace and community among the women who deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library.
Here she meets the unflappable, and three other women who are independent and willing to affect their communities in the most positive way they can, through education.
Together, these strong women with a goal from the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky, a self-sufficient organization traveling around the state hoping to introduce women, and men, to books that wouldn’t have these tools of education without these passionate and resilient women.
They face many challenges and tribulations along the way in Depression Era Kentucky’s outback.
This drama follows these women and their unfaltering quest to help people educate themselves, with the humanitarian goal of helping bring the world to Kentucky, refusing to be put off by that which stands in their way: men, laws, and the perils of traveling Kentucky alone, all while trying to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.
The novel is sweet and is a worthy read for any book club that wants to discuss America’s history, the true story behind the book, and the nuanced points of discussion raised in the novel.
It’s a drama that gets to the heart of why books matter and their place in our society, both historically, in the present, and in the future.
- Based on a true story and historical setting
- Gets to the heart of why books themselves matter
- A heartwarming drama for a reader of any age
- Some may find the narrative a little undramatic and not have enough action
This was Reese’s June 2019 pick, and was a pick that was definitely worthwhile for her, as Reese herself will be starring as the main character in a Netflix adaptation of the book for the screen!
The cactus describes the main character, Susan, well. She is very independent and lives her life exactly by this characteristic.
Her life has no room for anyone else and is designed purely to empower herself and no one else.
She likes things ordered and predictable, with a little fear of the unknown.
Even her boyfriend and relationship are neatly ordered and carefully defined – everything in her life has a perfect balance.
Everything seems near perfect for Susan, everything in its right place until it isn’t.
Suddenly she dives straight into the drama and unknown that she doesn’t want, suddenly her Mum dies completely out of Susan’s control, and next she finds out she is pregnant, both of which means she has to rekindle and repair her strained relationship with her brother.
Can Susan steady the ship and bring the control she desperately craves back, or will she have to adapt to these changing circumstances and become more elastic?
While she begins the novel as a happy loner, her friends and family are suddenly needed as a support group, and the quirky characters we meet in the novel are now vital proponents necessary for Suan’s wellbeing.
Susan is, unsurprisingly, a hard character to like, the kind of person you would struggle to talk to in real life, so some readers can struggle to like her but you certainly feel empathy for her position and we can all relate to her aloofness.
The novel really gets to the heart of how we value relationships, and even when we are introverted and independent we can’t cast others out.
These relationships, both familial and friendship based are what Susan has to rely on to gain the control she had gained through her loneliness.
- Interesting conundrum for the main character, worthy of book club discussion
- Presents some of the problems that come with being a modern, independent women
- The characters are really compelling
- The main character, by nature, can be hard to ‘like’.
Another story set in Ireland, this choice from Reese covers a political drama of two sisters who become entangled in the terrorist web of the IRA, like many Irish people who had to navigate this volatile political climate of the 1990s.
Tessa is a producer at the BBC, with bomb threats, political agreements, checkpoints, and an arms race in the UK, Tessa is watching plenty of news coverage.
Yet, things suddenly hit close to home when her sister Marian is pictured on the TV, seemingly pulling a balaclava over her face.
But Tessa had just spoken to her yesterday who was vacationing by the sea.
In any case, they were both raised to oppose the republican regime of the IRA, and the violence it now represented.
As the truth is slowly revealed Marian has to choose between her own political ideals, her own relationship with her sister, and whether she plans to get involved in this political and violent world.
The only person she loves more than her sister, her infant son, has to be safe, but Tessa has to make sure that the world he will grow up in is also safe and welcoming.
The novel is very sophisticated, showing a woman caught between what matters to her most, her ideals, her family, her motherhood, and her country.
The suspenseful novel asks the reader to what lengths they would go to for their own family and politics, and what the true value of them both are – we can totally tell why Reese picked this one.
- Very suspense heavy
- Interesting characters that are nuanced and complex
- Interesting moral conundrum
- Lots to discuss
- Some would argue that the presentation of the IRA can be a little skewed
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse was Reese’s February 2021 pick and it’s a real doozy if you like a suspenseful thriller with a strong female detective at the heart of it.
Reese describes it as ‘an eerie, atmospheric novel that had me completely on the edge of my seat.’
The novel follows detective Elin Warner as she takes some time off to visit her estranged brother, Issac, and his fianceé Laure.
You might think they chose a nice relaxing beach for this family reunion but Elin soon finds out that they chose the now defunct sanatorium ‘Le Sommet’, now turned into a 5-star getaway.
After arriving amidst a storm Elin soon realizes an isolated hotel at the top of the Swiss Alps is certainly the last place she wants to be.
This is only exacerbated when Isaac’s finaceé Laure suddenly goes missing.
With the growing storm threatening any escape there may be from the sanatorium, sorry, ‘hotel’, Elin must engage her detective mind so that she can finally get out of this holiday from hell.
As the remaining guests start to panic, and Elin focuses on Laure, they neglect to realize more women are going missing, and no one could predict the true trouble that Elin and the other guests have found themselves in.
Sarah Pearse has a poetic style of writing that truly lends itself to building suspense with long descriptions of the terrifying environment she places her characters within.
Moreover, she draws from her own experiences having lived in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the real-life setting which inspired the sanatorium.
While some enjoy the suspense narrative that really chugs the story along, some find that the actual characters, plot, and general execution of the story leave a little too much to be desired.
That said it can be an interesting one for a book club to discuss, as some will like it, and some won’t.
- The spooky and gothic setting
- Suspense driven narrative
- A mystery to figure out
- Badly written characters
- Good idea that is poorly executed
The January 2019 pick is an interesting choice from Witherspoon, a nonfiction book concerning the historic fire at Los Angeles Public Library in 1986.
Sounds boring? It’s actually a really colorful history of libraries and reads like a great piece of investigative journalism.
Orleans award winning wit colors the history she tells the reader, filled with compelling and real characters from the period such as the 18 year old girl who was named head of the library in 1880, to the current staff who attempt to keep the library’s history and legacy alive from the ashes of the fire itself.
On the morning of April 29 1986 the Los Angeles Public Library burned down, as one library stack started to burn, so did the next, and it was obvious to everyone that curtailing the fire could be a fruitless act.
As one fireman said, “Once one first stack started going it was Goodbye Charlie.” It burned at 2000 degrees and thousands of books were damaged beyond repair.
Susan Orlean throws herself into the real investigation that happened, trying to figure out how the fire actually and happened, and in a truly entertaining twist asks if the library was set on fire on purpose, but by whom and for what purpose?
Like any true crime investigation, Orlean sometimes focuses on tiny details that seem insignificant, like red herrings, and sometimes her observational tone can color bits of history with her own understanding, but no matter how you may dislike one part, there is always a riveting revelation just around the corner.
The book discusses the cultural value of libraries in a really unique way that will make you want to run down to your local library and saunter through the bookcases.
- A fun investigation worthy of discussion at a book club
- Perhaps the best modern nonfiction work that evaluates the cultural significance of libraries
- Well researched and well written
- No matter how you look at it, some people will undoubtedly find the subject matter boring.
Did you ever enjoy the Western-themed films your dad might have watched when you were a child, but you always pined for a female lead?
Reese’s January 2021 pick has you covered as Anna North tells the legend of Ada as she enters the notorious frontier on the Western Front.
Ada’s life is seemingly normal, and she doesn’t hate it, married at 17 she loves her husband and her job but the simple fact she can’t bring a child arguably puts her life at risk, with many women in the area who are barren being confused for witches.
Fearing being burned at the stake for something she has no control over, Ada has to leave everything behind for a life on the run.
Ada soon joins the Hole in the Wall Gang, a gang of outlaws led by the Kid, a charismatic former preacher turned mercurial mob boss to a gang of irresistible heroines and dastardly Dans.
Together the Gang hatches a plan of epic proportions that could get them all killed but could also pave the way for a safe haven for women just like Ada.
In this rejuvenated take on your classic Western, Anna North presents a tale of epic proportions that has cold-fisted feminism at the heart of it.
While the novel is vast and epic in its proportions, some readers find that Anna North includes a little too much exposition and shows another good literary idea executed poorly.
Ada ends up being a fairly inactive and observational character that many feels doesn’t get involved enough.
While many welcome the chance for a mixed gang of outlaws to deal with questions of race, sexuality, gender, and more, it ends up that Anna barely touches on most of these subjects and makes half-hearted comments on them all, rather than any clear poignant message.
That said, the novel is a good one for discussions.
Once again some will like it and some won’t and many of the topics discussed in the novel are worth discussion at large, mainly as the novel fails to discuss them enough itself.
- Interesting plot and idea
- Ideal for those who like Westerns
- The main character is likable
- While likable, the main character ends up being too inactive
- Tries to cover lots of social issues but ends up not making much of a comment on any of them
This magical story is Reese’s November 2021 pick and it’s a real doozy that you will immediately want to discuss with your book club.
If you don’t know anything about the island of Cyprus, this is a really great look at its history, and its people, far and wide.
The plot is a little hard to surmise but reads perfectly well.
The novel switches through different time periods and narrators, but ultimately it is Cyprus that forms the axis the novel spins on.
A fig tree narrates large parts of the start of the book, observing the forbidden love of two teens in 1970s Cyprus, one a Greek Cypriot, the other a Turkish Cypriot.
The fig tree narrates how their love grows in the Taverna it grows through, and also recounts their departure from each other.
Years later Kostas, the Greek Cypriot, returns as a botanist looking to take a special cutting of the tree that he remembers from his childhood, also while looking for his lost love.
Before this happens, the years in between are accounted for by the narration of the tree telling us of the wars of Cyprus, and how the island changes and twists just like the tree itself.
Years later in London the same tree, thanks to Kotas’ cutting, grows in a London garden.
Ada lives there as a teenager trying to connect with her ancestral lands, the island she has never been to, and she begins to navigate her own identity, her family’s troubled past, and how she can reconnect with it.
The story is really delicately told and is totally unique in its narration.
It’s a tender description of Cyprus and fundamentally of how we relate to our national identity, how our identity is shaped by those we meet, while it’s also shaped by nature and the world itself.
The themes of the novel cover love, eco-consciousness, identity, immigration, national and global conflict, as well as the diaspora.
For those who enjoy historical fiction, this is a really unique take on the genre that interspersed itself with many other genres such as romance and more.
As we mentioned, you will really want to discuss it with your fellow book club lovers, its unique qualities as well as what you potentially disliked.
- A really unique take on historical fiction
- Deals with lots of topics in detail and with a tenderness
- Well written characters
- The narrative itself will upset those who want a traditional romance story
- Some can be confused by the constantly changing narration and time periods
This was Reese’s Winter 2022 Young Adult fiction pick, and Scwartz’s Anatomy puts a female character at the heart of Edinburgh’s growing medical scene in 1871, a time period when women were not understood to be doctors.
Hazel Sinnett is our main character, a woman who wants nothing more than to be a doctor, while society’s expectation of her is to get married.
She’s kicked out of medical school for being the wrong gender but makes a deal with her lecturer that if she can pass the medical exam without any help or education then she could enroll in the university as she wanted.
Now, her new friend Jack Currer, a ‘resurrection man’, basically someone who exhumes bodies to sell to the medical industry, has now become her new best friend, providing her with all the specimens she needs in order to study for the exam, an exam she will need more than just books to pass.
Yet, for Jack to help her she has to help him, help his friends that keep going missing, the strange men that hang around the cemeteries, and the dangerous underworld of dealing in dead bodies.
They unravel a conspiracy that takes them to the heart of Edinburgh’s city and society.
Many enjoy the novel; anyone into the Jack The Ripper era mysteries, albeit he isn’t in this novel, will enjoy the themes and setting of Schwarz’s Anatomy.
There is a romance narrative here that some find falls on its face, it’s perfectly acceptable for a generic piece of young adult fiction.
- Strong female lead
- Interesting mystery to be solved
- Not a perfect novel so many literary points to discuss
- Some find that the latter parts of the novel fall flat and don’t connect with earlier presentations of the characters.
Ellery Lloyd is an interesting author duo of husband and wife, teaming up under one name. Their most recent novel The Club is Reese’s March 2022 pick.
The Club is about, you guessed it, a club. An exclusive resort kind of like The White Lotus but more poorly written.
These clubs, owned by the CEO conglomerate that makes up most of the characters in the novel, cater to celebrities and provide somewhere they can go to relax away from the prying eyes of the media, maybe that’s why Reese enjoyed this one.
Their newest club called Island Home is opening and tensions are high, money is low, and relationships frayed among the CEOs and their team who have been worked to the bone.
Suddenly bodies start showing up and we get given dribs and drabs of information about the murders, who potentially did it, and why, through constantly changing POV chapters, mainly among the CEOs.
The thing is, it’s hard to remain interested in the mystery as the dead characters are ones we basically know nothing about, and the authors fail to engender any reason why we should care about these dead people.
The action is quite low and it’s more of a slow burner, which also doesn’t help.
Interestingly, some may question why Reese chose this one anyway, there isn’t really a female lead that is particularly well-written, and hope exists only on the outskirts of the novel.
It reads like a bad daytime drama you would watch when you can’t be bothered finding the remote, the latter perhaps being a more interesting mystery.
Maybe Reese is trying to let us know she needs a break.
Fundamentally, whether you like it or not, there are certainly bits that are worth discussing, how it’s written, the interesting author duo, what it says about the mystery and thriller genre at large, and why members may dislike or like the novel.
If you want something easy to read over the summer with a little spice and intrigue this will do the job but is worthy of criticism more than praise.
- Spicy mystery novel you don’t need to think about much
- Interesting settings
- Relevant to modern life
- Hard to care about many of the characters
- Can be a bit slow and boring
- A bit too cliché for the genre
This is Reese’s November 2018 pick, that perhaps would have been a better pick in the summer as the book is exactly the sultry domestic drama that goes over so perfectly on a hot beach and after a few Cosmos.
Reese describes it as ‘One of the most twisted and entertaining plots’, we agree with the former, but the latter is up for debate at the book club.
Emma, the main character, seems to have finally met her dream man, having been figuratively beaten and bruised after years of dating and failed relationships.
Her dream seems to be Adam, a man who has an oedipal obsession with his mother, the latter being classically rude to Emma, as well as not that nice to Emma himself.
Then there’s Adam’s brother who Emma also seems to fancy a lot.
There is no cheating or a genuine love interest that Emma must ward off, she simply must deal with his overprotective mother who seems hell-bent on ruining their relationship which Adam is typically blind to.
It’s a modern Oedipus retelling, pretty much.
The novel is perhaps best for the huge twist that occurs in it, rather than the substance of the novel itself. It’s hard to predict the twist and we will give the author props for that.
If you want a page-turner that is a hop on and enjoy the ride book rather than one that requires any cognitive labor on the reader’s half.
It’s hard, again, to know why Reese chose this one, beyond it just appealing to a female audience. If you’re a man, you probably won’t enjoy the relationships here.
Pammie, Adam’s mother, is a truly wicked being and is perhaps the most well-written character for how medieval she is in her actions.
On the other hand, Emily is quite strange, Adam seems to be horrible to her yet she is obsessed with him.
While the ending irons out this incongruity a little, she’s certainly not your feminist main character.
Adam himself is strange and the kind of man you would run away from after having heard only a few sentences come out of his mouth.
If you want something easy to read, that has an addictive quality, with a super classic twist in it, then this is worthy of reading.
But from the outside, it seems that the twist was perhaps the author’s calling card and the rest of the novel is just papier maché to support the twist, and the novel often lacks substance, the kind of book you won’t think about again once you finish it.
- The twist is worthy of a book club discussion
- Light reading that is ideal for a beach book
- Unlikely twist to look forward to
- The characters are a little dry and annoying
- Can be a little unbelievable
If you love everything about the 70s, the free love and its moral conundrums, the emergence of feminism through music, the dark undercurrents of the era, as well as the kooky and interesting characters it birthed, then you will like this novel
The novel concerns Daisy Jones and the Six, as Daisy recounts the rise and fall of the band, the stories that remained untold, the glamorous scandals, and the heartbreaking losses.
It’s written well by Reid who makes it all seem to like it really happened like we’re reading the tell-all biography of some rock goddess from the 70s.
The story of course does well to stage feminism in this period and how it blossomed and also how it sometimes failed and got women into trouble, but it also deals with topics of addiction incredibly well and with just as much nuance.
If you find you relate to the characters’ early doors then you will just love the story, but if you don’t like the era and the bands that do exist, then it might fall a bit flat.
There’s plenty to discuss about how women are represented in the book and much discussion to be had about how this reflects how we view this historical period ourselves.
- Intoxicating characters and setting
- Hard to put down
- A fun way to reflect on the era of the 70s
- You either love it or find it a bit kitsch
As you can see Reese loves reading, and her books are always worthy of discussion whether you like them or not, and whether they actually fit Reese’s quota for feminism or not. It’s a great way to stay up to date with books that come out, and there is always something to discuss in these books.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club?
Reese’s book recommendations go way back to when she used to just do these book recommendations on her Instagram and other social media, but her fans just wanted more and more.
As she got more time on her hands she has grown her own book club based on the recommendations she was making.
Put simply, most of the books she recommends have a woman at the center of the story, and generally are stories that provide hope. These are the kinds of books you can expect her to recommend.
Beyond just general book recommendations, she does offer more ways to support her book club, and its charities, on her website which is now much more fleshed out as a business.
If you really love Reese’s recommendations you can support her cause by buying merch, signing up for her newsletter, or even buying one of her ‘boxes’ for yourself or a fellow bookworm.
These boxes let you purchase the books she is recommending along with some Reese-themed goodies and merch.
The boxes themselves are usually sorted by the genre of book you are looking for, or just the type of feeling or vibe you want from a book.
If you are looking to join a book club, this is certainly a unique way to join one and make your reading a little more fun.