Book club queen

I had never had Nashville hot chicken before and had never met Reese Witherspoon.

But there we were — her, in her blue-and-white striped Oxford and jeans; I, dressed in forgettable clothes, rolled into Witherspoon’s office with a borrowed suitcase. You can’t greet the actress playing Elle Woods carrying luggage with obvious burn marks on her head. (Related: Never use your carry-on luggage as an ironing board.)

I’ve been following Witherspoon’s foray into the world of books since seeing her in “Wild” (2014) and know that, just by the prickly, vulnerable way she portrays Cheryl Strayed that she is also a book lover. In 2017, Witherspoon founded Reese’s Book Club, which focuses on fiction by women, about women, and reliably sends her monthly works to the bestseller lists. According to Circana Bookscan, last year, sales of print books selected by the club exceeded those of Oprah’s Book Club and Read with Jenna, with a total of 2.3 million copies sold.

I enjoyed many of Witherspoon’s picks and interviewed several of the Reese’s Book Club authors — including Alka Joshi, Nina Simon And Celeste Ng — for Book Reviews. I wanted to talk to her, reader to reader, and the lead up to her 100th pick seemed like the perfect time.

During lunch, Witherspoon told me that she likes to read in the morning, after working out. (I read instead of exercising.) She organizes her books by color and prefers print copies over digital copies. She was wearing reading glasses, strength 1.5 – a tidbit that was not in my story but gave me a certain meaning. middle-aged presbyopia bookworm scared. (By the way, the hot chicken is delicious.)

“I read a lot on the plane when I travel,” Witherspoon says. “You know what’s interesting? I find it difficult to read on vacation, maybe because reading is my job.”

I may be related. Many of us professional readers lament the lost luxury of enjoying books “like a normal person” instead of devouring them straight from the tap, always avoiding the (literal) loss of plot. I know what you’re thinking: Boohoo. And you are right!

What struck me about Witherspoon’s comment was the reminder — so obvious that I didn’t even ask the follow-up question — that reading is supposed to be a hobby, in the same category as listening to music or painting watercolors. and bake bread. Why has it become so much more complicated than other pastimes? Why do so many readers turn to “experts” — book clubs, critics, big-name BookTok — for help figuring out what to read next? Don’t get me wrong: I love being part of the engine behind these proposals, and Witherspoon clearly does too. But I still believe in the power of standing in a bookstore or library, running your fingers over the back of your neck.

Witherspoon said her initial goal for the Reese’s Book Club was to narrow down the choices for busy readers and “take the book club out of your grandma’s living room and online.” Indeed, there are 882 comments below the club’s Instagram post about the May pick, “How to End a Love Story,” so she appears to have succeeded in the matter This.

Now, she says, “My dream is for it to get out of the digital world a little bit and back into your living room.”

Even Witherspoon, the digital book club expert, has her own IRL club.

I second this approach. The digital world is a great place to get ideas and discuss (or type) about books. For me, however, the difference between flipping through book trailer videos and talking about a good novel with a friend is the difference between walking on a treadmill and going for a hike. in the forest.

On the way home from Nashville, I stopped by Ann Patchett’s Parnassus bookstore at the airport. I didn’t buy anything; My suitcase was stretched tight from the six novels I packed for my 24-hour trip. (There will be recommendations for beach reading coming soon!) I also don’t impose my opinions on strangers, as I’m wont to do at the Hudson Bookstore in my hometown airport. I just stood there, flipping through the pages of a paperback, enjoying the distinctive sounds of a store above a crowded waiting room. Rolling wheels, tapping credit cards, customers flock to ask where to find what they need – Kristin Hannah, Fareed Zakaria, Sarah Maas, book lamps, birthday cards, bathrooms. The employee muttered over and over again: “Is that all?” and “Have a safe trip.”

Finally, feeling like the luckiest person ever to read under a blanket with a flashlight, I joined the crowd of tourists and headed toward my gate. When I finished reading my book, I went home.

Film and television

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Most three-ingredient recipes are pretty ho-hum; Basic dishes that satisfy hunger but don’t necessarily whet your appetite. Ferran Adrià’s fried eggs, fried potatoes is a salty, sharp exception. Requiring only eggs, chips and extra-virgin olive oil, this minimalist combo is a take on the classic Spanish tortilla but without the chopping required. Add some smoked pimentón peppers or sliced ​​chives for color and life, or some grated Manchego for creaminess. Or leave it as is; It is a completely simple dish in itself.

The hunt: A New Yorker brought his $400,000 to the Hudson Valley. Which house does she choose? Play our game.

What do you get for $400,000: A 1924 bungalow in Lexington, Ky.; a four-bedroom home in Blairstown, NJ; or a Colonial Revival house in Buffalo.

Premier League: The race for the Premiere League title enters the final weekend of the season. Manchester City, who have dominated English football in recent years, can win a fourth consecutive title with a win over West Ham – a feat No team in the Premier League has ever achieved it. But second-place team Arsenal still has a chance. If Man City loses, Arsenal defeats Everton, the London team will win their first title in 2 decades. Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern. Man City broadcast on NBC and Arsenal on America.

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