How many books did you read in 2020? I barely read anything – maybe like four books total during the year, and one of those was a re-read. I’ve been like that for a while though, I’ve gotten so crotchety about reading books in my off-time because I’m reading and writing all day for this job. I used to read for pleasure all the time! Not anymore, and the pandemic made it a lot worse. But many people did read a lot during the pandemic, and new reading habits were likely formed for many. Virtual book clubs became massively popular too. Apparently, the Duchess of Cornwall tested out the public appetite for starting her own book club, and now she’s pulled the trigger on it. Behold, the Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room!
Over the last decade, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has established herself as the palace’s main book lover by working with seven different literacy charities and becoming a fixture at the annual ceremony for the Man Booker Prize, even during the pandemic. But last year, the pandemic inspired Camilla to follow in the footsteps of Barack Obama and share her own book recommendations, releasing one list of her favorite books in April and another in August.
Due to the positive response to her first lists, the palace announced on Friday that Camilla will continue sharing her choices through a book club called the Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room, and on January 15, she will share four new choices. The new endeavor already has its own Instagram account, which featured an interview between Camilla and the artist Charlie Mackesy about his book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. She will continue to release new picks seasonally, and the account will feature conversations with the selected authors and other supplementary material.
Oprah and Reese Witherspoon are known for their impacts on book sales, and the Sun reports that Camilla could have similar influence, since her previous lists have led to a sales bump by as much as 200 percent for the featured books. The Daily Mail adds that Camilla was also inspired by the fact that book sales across the U.K. skyrocketed during the country’s lockdowns.
Though her first lists contained books that were close to her own heart, including a memoir by her late brother, the explorer Mark Shand, Camilla’s new project is aiming for a broad audience. “The duchess is hoping her Reading Room will encourage all ages and all levels of reader to pick up a book, and that it will spread awareness of the emotional, social and educational benefits of reading,” a palace source told the Mail. “That is as important to her as recommending any particular title herself. Ultimately, though, her hope is that this should put more books into the hands of more people.”
I get that many people will always side-eye Camilla and her role in trying to destroy Princess Diana, and I’m not here to say that Camilla is blameless. She’s done some terrible f–king things in her life. But in narrow circumstances, I’ll admit it, I kind of like Cam and I think she would probably be a fun hang. Camilla is clearly a major book lover, and she’s also a wine and booze aficionado, so I hope her virtual book club is the same as other book clubs – boozy and literary. All that being said, imagine if You Know Who had started a virtual book club. Piers Morgan and Dan Wootton would be losing their sh-t at how “unroyal” it is.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid and Instagram.