It’s time for another fun reading experiment! We all know about celebrity book clubs. There are kind of a lot of them at this point. And they’re pretty fun to follow – check out my picks from celebrity book clubs. But what about the bookworm celebrities who don’t have a book club? Because you don’t have to have a book club to read great books.

So I did a deep dive on Instagram (honestly, this took forever) to see which celebrities are posting about books, and what books they’re talking about or recommending. I decided it couldn’t be something they’d written (which ruled out at least four or five of the celebrities I looked into), and it couldn’t be celebrity book club related. Which was actually a little tough. But, thanks to the five wonderful actresses below, I have a list of five books to read. I am excited to get started and see what I think!

The Instagram Posts

Note: WordPress won’t let me add links to the photo gallery, so you can visit each Instagram post by clicking the links in the titles below.

The Books

I blogged each book as I read them (though they are out of order in the post). I think it’s a fun way to share my thoughts throughout the process.

Emilia Clarke – The Overstory by Richard Powers

This was the book/Instagram post that inspired me to come up with the idea for this blog post. Very late at night when I definitely should have been sleeping. The Overstory was already on my TBR for this year because Emilia raved about this book. (Yes, seeing it on her Instagram a while back is literally the reason I bought this book.) I honestly think it sounds like something I will love – it’s also one of my Five-Star Predictions for this year. So, bit of a spoiler for that post, but let’s see if this is actually a five-star read.

Aaaand…. this was not a five-star read. But it was really good! I absolutely loved the beginning of this book. The little vignettes about how people’s lives were impacted by trees were really beautiful. I enjoyed reading them so much. But when those stories began to intertwine, this book lost me a little bit. It just wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The second half of the book is definitely powerful, but it wasn’t as beautiful as the first part. I think if this book had just been more of the beginning, it would have ended up being a favorite.

That said, I can definitely see why this won the Pulitzer and why Emilia Clarke recommended it. It just feels like a book we need right now. It’s almost a modern version of Walden. It actually really made me want to reread Walden and go sit in a forest for a while. It was somehow both powerful and relaxing. The tree imagery really just spoke to me. I wish I had read this sitting underneath a beautiful, old tree. If you decide to pick this up, definitely go find yourself a tree first.

Kerry Washington – The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

I read Little Fires Everywhere the second it came out (maybe even before it came out), so that was off the table. Fortunately, Kerry Washington reads a lot of other things (including picks from Oprah’s book club), but this sounded interesting. Its a thriller, which sounds like the perfect quick read. And she’s also working on an adaptation. Since I know I’ll want to see that and I have to read the book before the movie, it’s perfect.

This book was… a lot. About a third of the way through, I was already totally lost. There are so many characters and no one is who they seem. Which, I get works for a thriller, but when you have six or seven people, all with a crazy secret backstory, it hurts my brain. I was excited to pick this up during a reading slump, because romance and thrillers are usually fun, quick reads. But I seriously struggled with this one. By the time the big twist ending rolled around, I kind of didn’t care.

That said, I can see why this might make a good adaptation. I feel like it might be an adult Pretty Little Liars. Which I’m not saying would be totally amazing, but I think the adaptation will likely be an improvement on the book. One thing I realized as I was reading is that this book didn’t really have physical descriptions of the characters. Which is maybe part of the reason I struggled to picture them and then connect to them. Right off the bat, I pictured the mother of the lost child as black, but I’m pretty sure she was meant to be white based on clues given later in the book (which threw me off). Also, the writing wasn’t all that great, which isn’t quite as noticeable on screen. Didn’t love the book (at all), but I’ll probably still watch the adaptation.

Brie Larson – Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff

Brie Larson is actually a secret book nerd, and I love it! She had a lot of great books on her Instagram, but since this book has one, been sitting on my shelves for years, and two, was also recommended by Barack Obama, I felt like I should definitely read it. Because if a US President (who actually knows how to read reads) and Captain Marvel both recommend the same book, you have to read it. I think there’s a rule about that somewhere.

This book completely blew me away from the first chapter. The writing is so absolutely beautiful, it instantly drew me in. I ended up enjoying this a lot more than I thought I would. Honestly, the reason I had been putting off reading this was because I knew it was about a marriage. And I knew that I just needed a little bit more life experience in order to appreciate this book. I’m glad I made that decision, because I don’t think I would have enjoyed this quite as much in my twenties.

I was surprised by how much I loved this book! The only reason I didn’t end up giving this five stars is because it got a little slow towards the end and I felt myself starting to lose interest a little bit. But, really, this is a great book. It’s one of those books I’ll be thinking about for a long time. And I will definitely be reading more books by Lauren Groff, because her writing is one of the best things I’ve read in a while. And I’ve read some pretty great books recently.

Nicole Richie – On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Admittedly, I don’t follow Nicole Richie, but I definitely should. She posts about books pretty frequently and her reading tastes are excellent. I had a hard time narrowing it down just from her page alone. I picked this one from her 2019 favorites, because I’ve read a few of the others already. And this has been on my radar for a while.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a beautifully written novel. The prose is just genuinely gorgeous – it drew me in instantly. But I’ve talked before about the fact that I really struggle with books that center on mother/child relationships (I even recently wrote a post about why).

I maybe should have read the synopsis a little more closely before I picked this up. My point is, my feelings about this book aren’t totally the book’s fault (can’t help it, I’m human). I just had a hard time identifying with this book. The writing was brilliant, but I wasn’t really attached to the story or the characters. I can see how other people might love this, and it’s truly worth reading for the writing alone, but it wasn’t the right book for me. Still a three-star read, though I wish I could have given it more.

Bonus Book!

I also ended up reading The Dutch House in the process of planning this post, and thought it was just okay. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t dislike it either. But I did love Where the Crawdads Sing and really liked An American Marriage. Her 2019 favorites (which is the post I used) seem to be a mix of three- to five-star reads for me. I’m curious to read more of her recommendations.

Uzo Aduba – The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Aryana Mathis

I love Uzo Aduba so much, and she has posted about some excellent books. But, since I already owned this one, I had to go with The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. (Born with Teeth was a very close second because I also love Kate Mulgrew. That one is definitely still on my TBR – I just don’t think I can fit it in this year.)

This is actually the last book I read for this experiment. And… it was kind of a disappointment. Which is a little weird because I had pretty much no expectations for this book. The first chapter just pulled me in pretty much instantly. I was so invested and interested in the story. Then it skipped forward twenty-three years and kind of lost me. Normally, I do like books that span a larger period of time. However, with this one, the transitions just felt really abrupt. It kind of reminded me of Homegoing, but not done quite as well.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie was also a book that I should have read the synopsis of before reading it, because this was another book about mother/child relationships. I didn’t have as much of an issue connecting with this one because of that, but it’s worth noting as a possible reason why I didn’t love it.

However, I did like this book. It’s not a bad book, and I do like how it is kind of snapshots of the black experience in America. Like I said, kind of like Homegoing, just not as amazing. In hindsight, it’s entirely possible that my expectations were unconsciously clouded by my love for Homegoing. But that’s just what happens with reading – it’s such a personal experience, it will never be unbiased. That said, I’m still glad I read it.

Final Thoughts

I honestly don’t think the results were too far off what I was expecting. I did like all of the books, but that’s not too surprising considering I did have some choice in what I read this time. I was expecting to like The Overstory a little bit more than I did. I think Fates and Furies ended up being my favorite of the bunch, which I wasn’t anticipating.

While I didn’t love three of these books, I did like them. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and The Twelve Tribes of Hattie were just not the kind of books I tend to connect with, and that’s okay. I was still able to appreciate them. And The Perfect Mother was not the most thrilling thriller I’ve ever read, but I can definitely see why it would make a fun adaptation, which is why Kerry Washington was reading it in the first place.

This was a fun reading experiment – though not quite as fun as the Buzzfeed one – and I’m glad I did it. I hope you enjoy these reading experiment or “secret TBR” posts. They’re a lot of fun to put together. My next one should be up in a few weeks! If you have any ideas for future secret TBR posts you’d like me to do, let me know in the comments!

Also Check Out: I Let Buzzfeed Decide Which Books I Read

11 thoughts

  1. What a fun idea! Fates and Furies sounds good and I remember the title from after when it was published. I’ll definitely have check out Brie Larson’s IG to see her other reads 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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