Fallon announced the book club last week, and listed off five possible picks for viewers to vote on: Children of Blood and Bone, IQ23 by Joe Ide, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, Providence by Caroline Kepnes and The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong. Audience members selected Adeyemi’s book by a wide margin.
Children of Blood and Bone earned considerable buzz even before it was published earlier in March: Adeyemi signed a huge deal for the book and its sequels last year, while Fox 2000 snapped up the film rights shortly thereafter. When the book hit stores, it hit the top of The New York Times bestseller list, and it earned widespread, rave reviews from fans and critics.
The book follows a seventeen-year-old girl named Zélie and her friends in a kingdom named Orïsha. Zélie is a maji — someone who possesses magical abilities — whose mother was killed by King Saran in an effort to stamp out magic once and for all. When she and her brother rescue the King’s daughter, Princess Amari, they flee with a long-lost scroll that might help them bring magic back. With Saran’s agents — including Amari’s brother, Prince Inan — in pursuit, they find themselves in a race against time to restore magic to Orïsha. The book is certainly relevant in 2018: numerous critics have pointed to Adeyemi’s nuanced take on race and cultural divisions. A sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, is due out next March.
The Tonight Show Summer Book Club will read the novel over the next couple of weeks: Fallon says that he’ll post updates to the show’s Instagram and Facebook pages, and encouraged people to use the hashtag #TonightShowSummerReads to follow along and to discuss the book with their fellow viewers. Fallon also says that The Tonight Show will partner with Macmillan Publishing to donate 3000 copies to First Book, a nonprofit dedicated to creating equal access to education, and has distributed more than 175 million books and “educational resources” to children of low-income families across the world.
Fallon noted that he’s starting up the book club because he hadn’t seen any high-profile ones since Oprah Winfrey ended her book club in 2011. The attention to individual titles helped bring the club’s selections to an incredibly wide audience, which translated into higher sales and placement on bestseller lists across the country. Following the announcement, the book shot up Amazon’s sales ranks from #103 to #2. Given Fallon’s huge number of viewers, that attention is good news for the publishing industry as a whole. It’s especially welcome, given reports that Americans appear to be losing some interest in reading as an activity: a Department of Labor report found that people over 75 read the most, clocking in at 51 minutes a day. By comparison, Americans between ages 20 and 34 only spend seven minutes a day reading.