Reese Witherspoon is using her literary clout to promote books.
Her most recent recommendation is Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, Kelly Williams Brown (Hachette/Grand Central Publishing), a humorous self-help book aimed at readers in their 20s finding the transition to adult responsibilities a bit trying (born from a blog of the same name).
It is starting to gain traction at some libraries we checked but it catapulted up the Amazon rankings last week (from #5,722 to #15) based on the following Instagram post:
I ❤️ this book so much. I go back and look at it over and over again. It's laugh-out-loud funny, yet practical and shockingly accurate (Step 361: Don't date someone who is mean to you!!) It talks about the mundane (how to clean your apartment) and the big issues (how to choose your friends). A great gift for basically … Any adult. After you read it 2 x yourself! 😍📚 #Adulting #rwbookclub
It is just the latest evidence of Witherspoon’s book savvy and sales impact. As WSJ noted earlier this year, she is the force behind many adaptions, including Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, having optioned both titles before they were published. WSJ says “just five months after [her production] company was launched, the books hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list at the same time—in the nonfiction and fiction categories, respectively. Together, the films earned three Oscar nominations and grossed more than half a billion dollars.”
Witherspoon follows Goodreads, reads one to two books a week, runs an Instagram bookclub (#rwbookclub), and options books for her production company, Pacific Standard. All this, says WSJ, has positioned her “as one of Hollywood’s most influential literary tastemakers in the book-to-screen business.”
She is also a force in the book recommendation business. In Style says “when she gives a title her stamp of approval, it carries a helluva lot of weight” and WSJ adds her suggestions “send Amazon rankings soaring.”
After a bookclub post about Luckiest Girl Alive, it jumped from #70 to #7. Marysue Rucci, editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster tells the WSJ that “The difference between what [Luckiest Girl Alive] might have done without Reese is just like the lightbulb to the sun.”
People magazine recently ran a profile of Witherspoon, asking if she is “Hollywood’s biggest book mogul?” The article lists many other titles Witherspoon has recommend, including Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein, and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, continuing “Many of the stories feature edgy, smart, imperfect women.”
Witherspoon told WSJ that is no accident, “I’m on the crusade to find a dynamic, female character, whether she’s likable or not … Likable puts women in a very small box.”