Would you read a book just because these celebrities liked it?

I stumbled upon the website for Matthew Specktor’s forthcoming debut novel, That Summertime Sound, due out later this month from MTV Books. The coolest, most puzzling thing about the site: a series of five sound clips, excerpts from the book read by the most random assortment of famous folks imaginable. It’s like a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon game run amok trying to guess what James Franco, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Irons, and Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis could possibly have in common. (Specktor also scored a glowing blurb from a legit book writer, Jonathan Lethem.) The novel seems to follow a 19-year-old guy from California in the mid-’80s who sets out on a road trip to follow his much beloved, unjustly obscure rock band — though, to be honest, I only know that from looking at the Amazon page on the book; the website (and the audio clips) are pretty vague on the actual plot. Of the clips, Jeremy Irons’ is the most noteworthy, with his hilariously rakish reading of lines like: “Every rock ‘n’ roll story needs the devil in it somewhere.” But I wonder: Do celebrity endorsements like these actually work, particularly for the target audience of a coming-of-age novel like this one?

Photo Credits: Freeman: Solarpix / PR Photos; Franco, Paltrow: Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos; Irons: Janet Mayer / PR Photos

Comments (23 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2
  • Kia

    Just when you think that the Oprah book club is annoying enough – here come the clones!!

  • Alisa


  • K

    Sometimes. If it’s someone I respect or consider intelligent, I think I would be influenced or at least intrigued. Or if someone is an expert (e.g. Mario Batali recommending a cooking book or Scorcese recommending a book on the history of film).

  • Moni

    I began reading Chuck Klosterman thanks to a recommendation (in an EW article) by Jorge Garcia…then again, I don’t really watch “Lost” and the title was what really caught my eye….but still!

  • Richard LeComte

    Well, it did work, because you noticed it, and now I know about the novel and might think about reading it. With thousands of books published every year, MTV needs something to get this title to stand apart, and it has the publicity power to do it.

  • Cole9219

    Sounds good. MTV put out the Perks of Being a Wallflower and i loved that so maybe I could give this a try.

  • Ed

    For MTV, it may make sense. MTV is a network that is very celebrity driven, so I can understand why they’d promote the novel this way. I’m just happy they’re using celebrities known for doing something. It would be horrible if it were Heidi or Spencer or Paris saying, “This book is hot, so, like, read it, okay.”
    The bottom line: Whether it be these celebrities, Oprah, a friend, or the EW blog, if it gets more people to read fiction, I’m for it. It’s hard for fiction writers to get noticed amongst tell-all celebrity books, so I will not criticize a publisher (even if it’s MTV) for trying to get their authors noticed.

  • Henry

    Isn’t that what Oprah’s Book Club basically do with their “selections”?

  • Melissa

    I will always take a favorite author’s recommendation over any celeb’s. The end.

  • J

    Why in god’s name would I choose to read a book recommended by Gwyneth Paltrow? For real? These Hollywood fools carry no weight when it comes to my literary choices.

  • jen

    I agree with Ed — anything that gets people reading is a good thing.

    But personally, I think I’d run away from a book recommended by Gwyneth Paltrow! This is the woman that brought us “Goop” for pete’s sake. That was bad enough.

  • Holden C.

    Umm, no.

  • Lisa

    No – it may even have the exact oppositie effect.

  • nancy

    Why don’t you read it before you say negative things. At least it is a published book and not a blog on a gossip magazine

  • starchild

    let’s see: you’re actually asking whether national publicity is a good thing for an obscure novel?

Page: 1 2
Add your comment
The rules: Keep it clean, and stay on the subject - or we may delete your comment. If you see inappropriate language, e-mail us. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field.

When you click on the "Post Comment" button above to submit your comments, you are indicating your acceptance of and are agreeing to the Terms of Service. You can also read our Privacy Policy.

Latest Videos in Books


From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP