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8 books Reese Witherspoon is bringing to life on screen

28 April 2017
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When most of us really like a book, we might tell a couple of gal pals. When Reese Witherspoon likes a book, she snaps up the movie rights. In 2012 she launched her production company Pacific Standard, with a mandate to address the dearth of female-centric stories in mainstream entertainment.

Since then, she has made a habit of turning great books into great film and TV shows, including the compulsively watchable Big Little Lies, which, she recently said, could actually come back for a second season. She’s also turned #RWbookclub, a hashtag with over 24,000 followers on Instagram, into one of the most reliable reading lists since Oprah’s picks. Here are eight books Witherspoon has already optioned. – Courtney Shea, Chatelaine


Ashley’s War by Gayle Lemmon

Reese’s production company won a major bidding war for the movie rights to this 2015 true story about an all-female special ops group in Afghanistan that paved the way for women in combat.


Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Before it was the HBO series that we still can’t stop talking about, this brilliant ensemble story (both starring and produced by Witherspoon) was a novel by Australian hit machine Liane Moriarty, whose knack for exposing the ugly truths behind picture perfect suburbia has become a calling card. Reese picked up the book rights and produced the project.


The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

An NYC magazine editor has the perfect job, the perfect fiancé and a really big secret about what happened when she was in high school. It’s adolescent drama with a super-dark twist. Reese, who signed on as producer of the movie version in 2015, calls it “the kind of book that grabs you and doesn’t let go.”


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Before every engrossing, female-focused story with a twist was labeled “the new Gone Girl,” there was the original — a relationship mystery that introduced readers to the myth of the “cool girl” character. Reese snapped up the movie rights before the book was even published, and says she was okay with the fact that director David Fincher said she wasn’t right for the titular role.


Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Another page-turner (the latest) from Liane Moriarty begins with three couples at a backyard bbq on a beautiful summer day…and then things get dark. Great news for everyone suffering from Big Little Lies withdrawal — Witherspoon and her BLL co-star Nicole Kidman bought the development rights last year.


Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Witherspoon starred in and scored an Oscar nom for the movie adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir about her journey of self-discovery while trekking the Pacific Crest Trail. This was the first film for Witherspoon’s production company Pacific Standard and was directed by Jean Marc-Vallee (who also helmed Big Little Lies).


The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

Another female-focused, multi-narrative drama, this one is a multigenerational story about marriage and many couples who have the same diamond. The book also stars Frances Gerety, the advertising exec who came up with the famous “Diamonds Are Forever” tagline. Reese’s production company picked up the film rights in 2013.


In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Reese is currently developing the movie version of this thriller about high-school besties who reunite at an epic hen weekend (that’s what they call a bachelorette in the UK), in a totally secluded forest (scary on either side of the pond). Reese told her Twitter followers to “prepare to be scared”.

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