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The Duchess of Cornwall provides lockdown reading inspiration with her new online book club. Photo: Chris Jackson-WPA Pool/Getty Images

> The Scroll

Duchess Camilla Launches Royal ‘Reading Room’ With Her First Book Club Picks

/ BY Cynthia Ross Cravit / January 15th, 2021


Calling all bibliophiles! Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, kicked off her new Instagram-based book club, the Reading Room, on Friday with her top reading recommendations for winter.

In a video released by Clarence House, the Duchess, 73, spoke of her passion for reading and the joy books can bring. “To me, reading is a great adventure. I’ve loved it since I was very small and I’d love everybody else to enjoy it as much as I do,” she said. “You can escape and you can travel and you can laugh and you can cry. There’s every kind of emotion that humans experience in a book.”

A longtime advocate of literature, Camilla launched her new initiative following the release of her popular quarantine reading lists last spring and summer. And now, as the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, she is continuing to give royal fans reading inspiration and a way to discover new writers while connecting with other readers. As of this writing, her Instagram account @duchessofcornwallsreadingroom has 61.5K followers.

Camilla’s book club picks, a selection of classics and more contemporary reads, include Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror And The Light, as well as William Boyd’s RestlessWhere The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak.

According to Clarence House, each novel will be highlighted for two weeks on the Reading Room Instagram account, during which time there will be information about that book and its author as well as a ‘Book Club Kit’ to spark discussion among readers. The kits were reportedly created by the Reading Room Book Researchers as part of the Lockdown Reading Project, a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen and the University of Portsmouth, looking at how reading habits are changing in the face of COVID-19.

New books will be added each season, with the next list of recommended reads expected this spring.

Working with the National Literacy Trust, the Reading Room has also partnered with libraries across the U.K. so that featured titles are available for free to as many people as possible.

A few of the Duchess’s must-reads last year included A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Travels on My Elephant by Mark Shand, her late brother and well-regarded conservationist who died in 2014. Her summer “escapist” list featured Girl by Edna O’Brien and The Island by Victoria Hislop. For her required regal read, Camilla selected The Queen’s Necklace by Alexandra Dumas, which she describes as “an epic tale of love and hatred, betrayal and courage, set at the court of Louis XVI.”

Camilla, who married Charles, the Prince of Wales in 2005, has made literacy central to her work in the Royal Family. She is patron of seven charities, including the Royal Society of Literature, the National Literacy Trust as well as Book Trust and Coram Beanstalk, which supports reading to children and families.

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