Clare Thorp | Contributing Writer | Saturday, 25 July 2015

Meet The GIrl That Started A Florence & The Machine Book Club

Meet The GIrl That Started A Florence & The Machine Book Club

The Debrief: How one girl got Florence, Jessie Ware and Lena Dunham to take part in her book club

They say never meet your idols — but they never mentioned anything about starting a book club with them. So that’s what Leah Moloney — a huge Florence and the Machine fan —decided to do when she created Between Two Books AKA probably the world’s coolest book club.

Between Two Books is a book club for Flo fans endorsed and encouraged by the lady herself. Once every couple of months Florence recommends a book for fans to read then discuss together online. Basically a bit like Richard and Judy’s bookclub (ask your mum) but a million times better. Anyone can join — there are currently 15k followers on Instagram and 8k on Twitter  — and so far Flo has recommended 17 books, including Just Kids by Patti Smith, Heartburn by Nora Ephron, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald.

We chatted to founder Leah Moloney, from Athlone in Ireland about how it started, why Flo is her literary go-to — and what it’s like to swap reading recs with your idol…

DB: So, how did the book club come about?

Leah: I’ve been a fan of Flo for almost six years. I was only 12 or 13 when I discovered her. I always knew she was interested in books and I remember thinking it would be so cool if she had her own book club. Then three years ago she tweeted a picture of her outside a bookshop in Portland, USA, looking really happy and the caption was 'books, books, books'. I tweeted something about how we should start a book club where she gives us recommendations and we read them together and discuss them. The initial tweet was joking, because how on earth do you get Florence Welch involved in something like that? But lots of fans replied saying it was an amazing idea. So we set it up a twitter account called ‘Between Two Books’, after her song Between Two Lungs. Three other fans of Flo — Heather, Abbie and Keira—also got involved. 

DB: And how quickly did Flo herself get on board?

L: Almost straight away! At first, the plan was to read books Florence had mentioned in interviews, with the hope she might recommend some personally at some point. We tweeted her and literally the next day she replied saying: 'I think a book club is a great idea, more reading for everyone!' She followed our account and then DM-ed us saying she’d be happy to get on board and recommend books. The first book was Opposed Positions by Gwendoline Riley. At the time I was only 15, and this was my idol DM-ing me, so it was a pretty big deal. Then she tweeted us a selfie of her reading the book and the day after that she gave us a shout out on stage in America and held up the book on stage. 

DB: So Florence has chosen all the books?

L: Yes — every couple of months she DMs me a suggestion. The only books that haven’t been recommended by her are when Issy from the band recommended one (The Day of The Triffids by John Wyndham), and we also had one from the writer Emma Forrest — whose book, Your Voice In My Head, Flo had just recommended.

DB: What have been your favourites?
L: I really liked Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. It’s set in the southern United States during the 1930s. It was a challenging book for me — I was only 16 when I read it and had never read anything like it before — but it was one of the most beautiful things I've read. I also really enjoyed Your Voice In My Head by Emma Forrest. I like memoirs and am fascinated by the human mind, so it was intriguing for me to see inside someone’s head. When Florence recommended The Goldfinch she got the chance to interview Donna Tartt on our behalf, and put our questions to her.

DB: We hear Flo isn’t the only celeb in the club, either…
L: No - we have quite a few celebs following us — Emma Roberts, The Maccabees and Jessie Ware. We got one of our biggest surges in members when Florence recommended Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind Of Girl and Lena followed us and Instagrammed a picture saying she was honoured to be the subject of the book club.

DB: Has it made you read more?
L: I’ve been an avid reader since I was very young. In secondary school I didn’t have as much time because i killed myself trying to get good grades so the book club came at a time when i needed a push to get literature back into my life. One of our aims is to incite people to read and discover more literature. People have sent us messages saying if it wasn’t for Florence and us they would never have got back into reading, or never have started. I made Flo a leather bound book filled with messages from the members and gave it to her when I met her backstage at the O2 in Dublin in 2012.

DB: What does Florence think of it all?
L: She told me the book club was her favourite thing on the internet. She’s always been so incredibly kind, helpful, gracious and super sweet about it. I was at a festival in France earlier this month and she recognised me in the crowd and pulled me up on stage. She said to the crowd: 'There’s a special guest here' and explained what the book club was to these stunned French fans. I thought it might dwindle out but it’s gone from strength to strength. When I think about it I actually get a bit overwhelmed. This is my hero and I’m running a book club with her. It’s surreal.

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Follow Clare on Twitter @Thorpers

Tags: books