Top 5 Reads from Reese's Book Club

In partnership with the Guille-Allés Library

Founded in 2017 by actress Reese Witherspoon, Reese’s Book Club selects a book each month that has a woman at the centre of the story. Encouraging people to get together and discuss wonderful books, Reese’s picks are diverse and thoughtfully chosen.

Together with Beth from the library, we’ve picked out some of our most recent favourites for you to try. 


1.  'The Dictionary of Lost Words' by Pip Williams

Set in the heyday of the Suffrage movement, this quietly gripping tale of a lexicographer’s daughter who starts compiling her own dictionary out of words deemed ‘less important’ is a poignant exploration of love, tenacity and the ownership of language.

Beth says: “I read this a few months ago and really loved it! It’s a fictional account of how the first Oxford English Dictionary was put together. Esme is the daughter of one of the lexicographers and is confused and upset to find that many words relating to women and the working class don’t have a place in the OED – so she decides to change that. Feminism and a deep love of words combine to make this great story.”

Reserve 'The Dictionary of Lost Words'


2.  'This is How it Always Is' by Laurie Frankel

This is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. Rosie and Penn always wanted a daughter. Four sons later, they decide to try one last time - and their beautiful little boy Claude is born. Life continues happily for this big, loving family until the day when Claude says that, when he grows up, he wants to be a girl. As far as Rosie and Penn are concerned, bright, funny and wonderful Claude can be whoever he or she wants. But as problems begin at school and in the community, the family faces a seemingly impossible dilemma: should Claude change, or should they and Claude try to change the world? 

This book shows that change is hard, and miraculous, and hard again. Parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts. Children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

Beth says:This novel is about a child who realises that they are transgender and the lengths to which her parents will go to support her. Very heart-warming.”

Reserve This is How it Always is

3.  'The Sanatorium' by Sarah Pearse

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she's taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother's recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it's beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous - as does her brother, Isaac. And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin's unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

Beth says: “An isolated location. Tensions running high. Stephen King, eat your heart out!”

Reserve the Sanatorium


4.  'The Island of Missing Trees' by Elif Shafak

Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chilli peppers and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig tree stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. The tree is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns. He is a botanist looking for native species, but really, he’s searching for lost love.

Years later, a Ficus carica grows in the back garden of a house in London where Ada Kazantzakis lives. This tree is her only connection to an island she has never visited - her only connection to her family’s troubled history and her complex identity as she seeks to untangle years of secrets to find her place in the world.

Beth says: “Shafak has a beautiful and enchanting writing style. This is well worth a read!”

Reserve The Island of Missing Trees


5.  'Where the Crawdads Sing' by Delia Owens

And finally... this bestseller came out a few years ago and was championed by Reese Witherspoon, who went on to produce the 2022 movie version of the book.

For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life - until the unthinkable happens.

Beth says: "This is one of my favourite books! Definitely keeps you guessing until the end. The setting and storytelling are great and it lives up to the hype."

Reserve Where the Crawdads Sing

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