5 Reese’s Book Club Recs that Captivated Me this Year

5 Reese’s Book Club Recs that Captivated Me this Year

I think I’m a little late to the game. Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, in collaboration with her media company, Hello Sunshine, has been recommending soon-to-be best-sellers since Summer 2017. But it wasn’t until this year that I realized just how phenomenal her online book club picks are, and now I feel like I’ve struck gold. Hello Sunshine focuses on centering the stories and dreams of women, and each of Reese’s Book Club picks are stories with strong, complex, women in leading roles. Most of Hello Sunshine’s recs are novels, though a memoir, like Glennon Doyle’s Untamed, or a sociological commentary like Eve Rodsky’s Fair Play, occasionally make their way into the celebrity book club.

Don’t worry, this book club isn’t exclusive, nor does it require any sort of membership or purchase. And it isn’t a book subscription like Book of the Month. Reese simply recommends a great read each month and leaves it up to you to purchase from your preferred book source or borrow from your local library. You can then follow Reese’s Book Club on social media where you’ll find thought-provoking questions and virtual community commentary on the stories. Once I read one of Reese’s recommendations and found it enchanting, I picked up another and another, and I am now hereby convinced that I can trust any book that appears among her monthly choices. Here are 5 of Reese’s Book Club books that captivated me this year.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by
Gail Honeyman

The novel that started it all, Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was Reese’s very first recommendation. This novel centers around Eleanor, an awkward and intriguing young woman, who works as a finance clerk in Glasgow, Scotland. Eleanor isn’t like other people, and she doesn’t seem to mind. Eleanor is unusually blunt, which doesn’t endear her to her co-workers, but does endear her to the reader.

Laugh-out-loud funny, Eleanor’s literal way of thinking and candid way of speaking leaves readers wishing that everyone would just tell it like Eleanor does. Eleanor is endearing, no doubt, but something about her past doesn’t seem quite right, and readers slowly piece together what happened to make Eleanor this way. Eleanor likes her routine, including her Wednesday phone calls with her condescending and controlling mother, and her Friday ritual of picking up pizza and two bottles of vodka, which keep her company until Monday finally arrives. Everything changes when Eleanor falls in love— well, sort of. This new love interest causes Eleanor to question her ritualistic way of life and confront a past that turns out to be much darker than any of us expect.

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Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

In September of 2018, Where the Crawdad’s Sing, a debut novel by Delia Owens, took the literary world by storm, and Resse Witherspoon was right there to champion it along. Where the Crawdads Sing sang its way right to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, where it has remained since its birth. Odds are, you’ve probably heard of this novel, and if you haven’t read it yet, it’s probably because you’re doubtful of whether it will live up to the hype. Allow me to assure you: it actually is as good as everyone says.

A murder mystery set in the marshland of North Carolina, this novel follows Kya Clark, nicknamed the “Marsh Girl”, a loner and a scholar of the natural world. With the backdrop of a beautiful natural landscape and budding young love, Kya’s natural beauty and soft curiosity draw the eye of more than one man from the nearby coastal town. As distrusting and skittish as a wild animal, Kya retreats from the attempts to tame her. Kya’s independent and reclusive ways are reasons to distrust her in the eyes of the townsfolk, and when an important man from town is found dead, Kya is the first suspect. Kya has few friends, but the ones she does have are fiercely loyal to her, coming to her aid in the fight to uncover the truth. Though you’ll wish this literary treat could never end, the novel comes to a close with a deliciously satisfying ending.

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Untamed by Glennon Doyle

The third memoir from Glennon Doyle, Untamed is written in essay-style stories and personal reckonings. Untamed begins with the story of Tabitha the cheetah, a tamed creature Doyle observes on a trip to the zoo with her daughters. Tabitha the cheetah is the main attraction in the cheetah run experience— where Tabitha, following the lead of her friend Minnie the golden retriever, chases a dirty stuffed animal attached to the back of a jeep, to illustrate her wild speed to the crowds. Tabitha was raised in captivity, she has never seen the wild, yet she still has wildness in her, clawing its way out.

Tabitha’s existence has been diminished to that of a golden retriever, and the wild, powerful life she was meant to live has become chasing a dirty stuffed animal in the hopes for a reward at the end. Doyle proposes that many women are like Tabitha— tamed, trapped, and bored, chasing rewards that ultimately turn out to be dissatisfying. Trapped inside a world of hiding, coping, and people pleasing, women remain unaware of the wildness and strength with which they are born. The key? To get untamed. Doyle uses powerful yet simple language to draw the reader in close, as if to whisper a secret, and then makes you stop and wonder if that wasn’t something you already knew, somewhere deep in your untamed person.

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Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

It’s been a while since a book enchanted me so deeply that I found it difficult to put it down and go to sleep. Funny and complex, Kiley Reid’s debut novel consumed my thoughts from first page to last and it did not give my mind any rest until it was completed. A modern tale of narcissistic internet personalities and viral videos gone wrong, this novel follows Emira Tucker, a young Black woman post-college, but pre-grown-up-job-with-health-insurance who works as a babysitter for a well-off white family in Philadelphia. Emira is jolted from her almost contented state one night when a grocery store security guard racially profiles her, humiliating and shaking Emira.

This night marks more than one shift in Emira’s life, including meeting the cute white guy who filmed the grocery store encounter, Kelley, and the way that Emira suddenly becomes a lot more interesting to her boss, Alix. Overnight, Alix Chamberlain becomes fascinated with the young woman who cares for her daughter, and makes it her mission to connect with Emira before it’s too late and she loses her daughter’s favorite babysitter forever. Alix and Kelley become central figures in Emira’s life, both pulling her in directions she isn’t sure she wants to go. When an intriguing secret is revealed, Emira is put in the middle of a war she never signed up to fight in. A special and stimulating read, Such a Fun Age is a lively commentary on the subtle ways white women try to control and disrespect Black women, and a thrilling picture of a Black woman asserting her worth and rising in her own strength.

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The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

It’s a novel about librarians— how could I possibly resist? These aren’t the quiet, cardigan wearing, tea drinking sort you may be thinking of. These are foul-mouthed, tough as nails women inspired by the real-life packhorse librarians of the Appalachian Mountains. This novel by Jojo Moyes (#1 Bestselling author of Me Before You) centers around Alice Van Cleve, a newlywed British woman who moves to the home of her new American husband.

Alice joins a band of three other women to ride horseback through the mountains each day, delivering books to rural homes. Their leader is Margery, an independent and unconventional woman, disinterested in the social expectations for women in the Depression-era South. Margery comes from a long line of bootleggers and ruffians, which doesn’t gain her a lot of respect in town, and her unconventional ways and bold way of speaking make her a target for some of the more powerful members of their small society.

The packhorse librarians work together to supply the rural community with stories and facts, while providing Alice a reprieve from her dissatisfying marriage. When their fearless leader is hurled into a dire situation that seems to have no way out, the librarians band together to come to her rescue. Celebrating literature, sisterhood, and the strength and grit of women, this novel will make you long for the rugged and free mountains…and another book.

And that’s it— 5 recommendations from Reese’s Book Club list. Thank you so much for reading. To stay up to date with all of my book recommendations, join my email newsletter below.

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Disclosure (Let’s be honest)
This website contains posts with affiliate links, meaning that I receive a small commission if you purchase a book I’ve linked— at no extra cost to you. I’ll always be upfront with you when a post is sponsored or a book is gifted. All books I recommend are books I actually read and enjoyed.
No joke.