Ranking Celebrity Bookstore Purchases

All the Books Celebrities Are Buying at the Bookstore Where I Work, Ranked

By Jack PetersEn


12. Karlie Kloss

The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone

A book about a WWII war hero. I didn’t know she and my dad inhabited any common spaces, but I’m open to surprises.

11. Emily Ratajkowski

New York Magazine (the issue for which she wrote an essay)

Ratajkowski buys piles of fabulous books whenever she comes in, but buying a magazine with your own work in it is next-level sweet. My guess is that she was getting it for friends, and sharing writing with anyone is a sacred act. Good! On! Her!

10. David Harbour and Lily Allen

Lots of YA books  

When the paps aren't catching them making out at Cafe Gitane in SoHo, Harbour sometimes buys a slew or two of young adult books. It's unclear who they're for, but the man is constantly redeeming his gruffness. The couple's banter is top-tier, too.

9. Chris Rock

Tiny Love Stories by Miya Lee and Daniel Jones

Admittedly, Rock bought a large stack of books and this is the only title I can remember. That said, most, like this, were gift books. Everybody Hates Chris, but Chris Loves Everybody. The man was a sweetheart.

8. Aaron Maine

Event by Slavoj Zizek

Maine, the musician behind Porches, bought this and a number of other Zizek titles with his girlfriend, and I'm pretty sure she was the one reading the controversial philosopher. Perhaps there's some soft, queer-adjacent, epistemological dance-pop forthcoming (“Do you wanna, do you wanna, do you wanna dance? Or talk about what we know and how we know we know it?”).

7. Alex Delany

Fukt Magazine

BA bro Delany regularly asks for this magazine of contemporary drawing. People with specific indie magazine knowledge have my heart; this is no exception.

6. Hunter Schafer

A magazine with Alexa Demie on the cover 

I wasn't at a register when Schafer approached, but I was so excited re: her presence that I whipped out a card reader from somewhere below the desk. This is friends supporting friends. Beautiful. Euphoric. Sorry.

5. Gabriel Byrne

Extremely difficult books to find (a great alternative to Amaz*n)

There are two things that guarantee how well-read someone is. The first is starring in a movie opposite Isabelle Huppert—Louder than Bombs (2015)—and the second is asking for well-known authors' hardest-to-locate books. I've often sent Byrne to smaller, more targeted indie bookstores in the area (what's good, Codex?). I miss when I worked in my bookstore's cafe and could confidently fix him a bowl of granola rather than the sad "our distributors are out of stock on that" I often need to give.

4. Tavi Gevinson

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis

Gevinson asked for this book so quietly I had to lean in to hear her. Not only is this an important book (which she asked for after the anti-racist reading list fervor had regrettably tapered), but the whisperiness of her voice was like the opposite of virtue signaling. Tavi has hot friends and unimpeachable literary taste. No surprise there.

3. Dev Hynes

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

The polymath lead of Blood Orange comes in with famous friends and a sweet dog with some regularity and buys lots of literary fiction. The Friend, Sigrid Nunez's book about one woman understanding a mentor's suicide by way of the dog he's left for her, deserves a special mention because of its funny, hyperintelligent, and sometimes Woolfian themes. Hynes returned to tell me how much he liked it. I guess you could say it's the thing we have in common.

2. Sofia Coppola

The Dry Heart by Natalia Ginzburg

I recommended Natalia Ginzburg to Coppola, as I do to almost anyone I'm trying to impress, and she seemed excited to take it. My mother, on the phone, said, "Maybe she'll cast you in the movie version of it!" Not a spoiler—the husband dies in the first paragraph. Thanks, Mom. One of the sweetest customers I've ever met, too. The book, the conversation, her dog—everything set my heart aflutter.

1. Patti Smith

Lots of Muriel Spark novels (and Japanese Death Poems)

Patti Smith frequents downtown bookstores because we're always in need of more signed copies, but what's special about chaperoning those signings is hearing her epic literary stories. Exchanging concert tickets for rare books in her youth? Looking at Jack Kerouac's crayon scrawlings at antiquarian bookshops? Smith is a New Directions devotee who loves Muriel Spark (ND has reprinted Spark's work gorgeously as of late) and Cesar Aira. The last time she was in the store, a friend of hers got a copy of Japanese Death Poems and placed it down next to her. "I love this book," she said. "Sam Shepard bought me a copy once."

Hilton Als (special mention)

An Arnold Palmer. Okay, this isn't a book, but as I was pouring him his drink, he got a call from Jamaica Kincaid. You don't just get a call from Jamaica Kincaid. That can't be how that works, right?