Reese Witherspoon, Yara Shahidi and Jameela Jamil Reveal the Books That 'Shook' Them — and Why

The three actresses are featured in a new short-form series, Book Shook

Reese Witherspoon; Yara Shahidi; Jameela Jamil
Photo: Karwai Tang/Getty Images; Aaron J. Thornton/FilmMagic; Amy Sussman/Getty Images

The power of a good book can change your life — allow Reese Witherspoon, Yara Shahidi and Jameela Jamil to explain why.

The three stars are featured in Book Shook, a new short-form series from Mailchimp Presents and Hello Sunshine, Witherspoon's media company. In the five-minute episodes, available now, Witherspoon, Shahidi and Jamil reveal the books that truly moved — or "shook" — them, shaping their entire worldview and perspective. The women discuss when they discovered the book, its impact, and how it has stuck with them throughout the years.

Witherspoon, 44, discusses The Measure of Our Success by Marian Wright Edelman.

"One of the lessons I really learned from her book is that she talks a lot about her mothering," she explains. "And that being a mother doesn't mean just taking care of your own children, it means taking care of the community's children."

"I just want to say thank you," she adds. "Thank you, Marian. I don't know who I'd be if I hadn't had your words, and your guidance, and your wisdom."

Shahidi, 20, discusses The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.

"I'm an evolving young human and, I remember, getting Baldwin was one of the first times in which I felt like I had gotten new tools to be able to verbalize how I felt," says the grown-ish star.

"Why I recommend reading it — especially for people who are looking for a touchpoint if you're trying to understand what's happening right now — not only is it a great history lesson, it also makes it a personal conversation," she says. "And you can't help but recognize that we're talking about people's lives."

Jamil, 34, discusses Hunger, Roxane Gay's 2017 memoir.

"The first thing I felt when I read this book was, 'F---, I wish I'd read this when I was so much younger,'" Jamil says. "I wish she'd written this 20 years ago, so I could have read it and been prepared for the world and also have understood myself."

"When you read it, it is upsetting and it is a little bit triggering at times, but mostly you just feel like punching in the air," she adds. "Because she's fighting back."

Book Shook was created in partnership with Hello Sunshine as part of Mailchimp Presents' "By the Books" virtual book festival, which features a collection of inspiring and eye-opening reads curated by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, exclusive literary essays curated by Ashley C. Ford, and author conversations from rising literary voices such as Cathy Park Hong, Curtis Sittenfeld and Danez Smith.

All episodes of Book Shook are available on Mailchimp Presents.

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