The Top 5 Most Popular Reese's Book Club Picks Of The Last Year

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Celebrity book clubs are like a one-stop-shop for all the hottest and latest books that are trending. Some you may have seen on the best-sellers' list at your local bookstore or library, while others are delightful finds you might have never feasted your eyes upon. Oprah Winfrey started the fad in 1996, and now that she is no longer partaking in curating a reading list for her fans, she made way for Reese Witherspoon to hop on the train  — and now, even Jennette McCurdy has a book club as well.

Witherspoon debuted her book club in 2017 through her media company, Hello Sunshine, and since then she has catapulted many unknown authors into literary fame. The actor started by sharing her favorite reads on Instagram, and seeing how the fans responded, the "Legally Blonde" star decided to turn her hobby into a booming business. Every month, Witherspoon chooses a book, usually written by women, and it oftentimes makes its way onto the coveted New York Times best-seller list. Some of her hit picks include "Where the Crawdads Sing" and "Big Little Lies," both of which have gone on to make it onto the screens. The options are always diverse, as are the authors, and there was no shortage of hits for Witherspoon's 2023 list. Looking at the reviews and ratings from platforms such as Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble, we rounded up the top five books from Reese's Book Club that were obvious fan favorites.

Highest-rated: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

March 2023's "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah was hands down the most popular book of Reese Witherspoon's book club in 2023. With over 300,000 ratings on Amazon, the historical fiction is in the lead with a 4.7-star rating. The novel takes place in France during World War II and follows the lives of Vianne Maruiac, who is forced to house a German captain after her husband leaves for the war, and her sister Isabelle, who joins the Resistance after getting betrayed by a soldier.

Hannah made number one on The New York Times Bestseller list and "The Nightingale" was also Goodreads' winner for Best Historical Fiction in 2015. According to her website, the author's love of writing adventurous stories stemmed from her going on exotic trips with her father. "Maybe that's why I love stories of women who joined the Resistance during World War II. When I read about an otherwise ordinary young Belgian woman who created an escape line for downed airman, I was mesmerized by her courage and resilience. I knew I had to write a novel about the many women who became spies and couriers and risked their lives to save others during the war," Hannah wrote. "The Nightingale" was picked up to be made into a film starring sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning, but it's unclear if production has yet started.

Best POC historical fiction: The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson

Historical fiction seems to be popular among Reese's Book Club readers, and "The House of Eve" by Sadeqa Johnson was February 2023's pick. Set in the late 1940s and '50s in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, two Black women try to make it amid poverty and prejudice. Ruby Pearsall is a teen with hopes of going to college until an unexpected pregnancy threatens her future. Meanwhile, a young woman named Eleanor Quarles meets a man whose wealthy family disapproves of her but they marry anyway. The two women's lives intersect through an adoption as they try to navigate hardship and heartache.

In an interview with NPR, Johnson shared, "'The House Of Eve' was inspired by thoughts of my grandmother. She had gotten pregnant with my mother at 14 and had her at 15. She was unmarried. She had her out of wedlock, and there was a lot of shame." The author touched upon the racism within the Black community, which was depicted by Quarles' family. She used Toni Morrison's documentary "The Pieces I Am" as inspiration after the "Beloved" author learned that Black folks differentiated themselves by their skin tones while attending Howard University. Johnson also incorporated real-life librarian Dorothy Porter into "The House of Eve," stating, "[When] I can highlight a woman, a Black woman who people don't know about, you know, I feel that it's my duty to give them their shine."

Best feel-good romance: Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

If you want a heartfelt novel about love and loss, "Tom Lake" by Ann Patchett is it. Widow Lara takes her three daughters to a cherry farm in Michigan, where they ask her to recount her past relationship with a well-known actor named Peter Duke. She recalls meeting Duke in Tom Lake in 1980 and the two fall in love during a production of the play "Our Town." The problem is that he's married and eventually leaves Lara to go back home. Through Lara's story, her daughters learn more about their mom and how her past helped her become the person they now know.

This July 2023 pick received over four stars on Goodreads, with a nomination for Best Fiction in 2023. "Oh, this book was exquisite. The writing was so lovely, and I found myself fully immersed in this story. It's not a love story in the conventional sense, but it is a love story between a woman and her daughters, her life, her husband, and her past," a reviewer wrote. Rather than focus her book on a sad love story, Patchett told CNN that she chose a happy theme for "Tom Lake." The author revealed, "I think that heartbreak has been well-covered. It's funny, I own a bookstore in Nashville [called] Parnassus and I read whatever's coming out. Constantly, I'm reading new books and they're wonderful but heartbreak and despair, hopelessness, dejection — completely covered. So, I figured slipping in a book about perhaps, a happier love."

Best gothic fantasy: Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

Reese Witherspoon chose the spooky, gothic novel, "Starling House" by Alix E. Harrow for October 2023, and it was a hit with Amazon readers, with a 4.2 average rating. "I read this book for my book club and it's not something I would normally read but I loved it and I devoured it so quickly! This book had action, it had mystery, it had romance, it had fantasy, it had magic, it had evil characters. I feel like you name it, it had it. I loved the story and really enjoyed reading and discussing this book with my group!" one reviewer wrote.

The book follows parentless Opal, who is trying to earn money to send her younger brother Jasper to a school in hopes of giving him a better life away from Eden, Kentucky. She manages to score a housekeeping job at the mysterious Starling House, once owned by the famously private author E. Starling. It's now inhabited by her heir, Arthur, whose nightmares become increasingly threatening. When asked to describe her book, Harrow told The Fantasy Hive, "I think my short pitch has become 'southern gothic Beauty and the Beast,' but I also like to say it's 'Howl's Moving Castle' but it's in Kentucky and there's swear words and sex." She added, "More seriously, it's a dark contemporary fantasy set in rural western Kentucky, roughly where I grew up, which follows a mean girl as she gets sucked into the mysteries and histories of the local haunted house."

Best rom-com: Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

For a light beach read, you'll want to get your hands on "Romantic Comedy" by Curtis Sittenfeld, which was Reese Witherspoon's April 2023 choice. In a setting similar to "Saturday Night Live," the heroine Sally Milz writes sketch comedy for a live show called "The Night Owls." She's a cynic when it comes to love and has pretty much given up on finding The One, which is only exacerbated when her average-looking friend Danny Horst starts a relationship with a gorgeous female actor. Things turn around for Milz when she connects with the handsome pop star, Noah Brewster, which just might change her outlook on love.

The book received over 4 stars on Barnes & Noble, with one reviewer writing, "The love story is a delight, of course, but one of the most gratifying elements of this novel is the behind-the-scenes world Sittenfeld creates for a show that looks a whole lot like SNL. If you are a fan of anything Lorne Michaels or the careers and film offshoots of folks who starred on his show, this will be a really fun read."

In an interview with W magazine, Sittenfeld revealed, "People are saying to me, 'I so strongly identify with Sally,' and/or they're saying, 'I found her really frustrating.'" She stated, "I love writing about intelligent, self-aware people who are incorrect in their views of themselves, and of the world. That just seems like the definition of being human."

How we selected the top 5 most popular Reese's Book Club books of 2023

As previously mentioned, we gathered all 12 books of 2023 and selected the top five with the highest ratings, followed by the number of reviews. We also took into consideration the reviews that readers left, looking at both favorable and not-so-favorable critiques. The top three books received various recognition, such as making it onto the New York Times Bestseller list or winning Goodreads awards.

We made sure to offer readers a diverse selection, and the top five picks have everything from historical fiction to adventurous fantasy. Whether you're looking for a lighthearted vacation read or want to delve into political issues, if you want to start reading more, Reese's Book Club's 2023 options will have everything you're looking for. And, if you want a fun beach read, check out our 2023 favorite and most-anticipated list.