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Actress Emma Roberts launches new book club with some help from Joan Didion

“Scream Queens” actress Emma Roberts is an unabashed bookworm.

The 26-year-old, who is as likely to be caught on her Instagram posing with a book as she is on the red carpet, recently launched an online book club called Belletrist.

“As a kid, I was very bad at math and science, but reading and English were always something that I could get ahead in,” she told The Times on Tuesday night at the Beverly Hills Hotel for the launch party for Kim Crawford Wines’ new rosé.

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As her first order of business with the book club, Roberts interviewed prolific author (and her hero) Joan Didion about Didion’s new book, “South and West.”

“In the process of interviewing this iconic author, I was once again overwhelmed by her wisdom, her work ethic, and her commitment to experiencing life,” Roberts wrote in her intro to the interview, which she posted on Belletrist’s website.

At Tuesday night’s party, we caught up with Roberts to talk about her book club and upcoming romantic comedy with Hayden Christensen.

What inspired you to start Belletrist, and what books are you drawn to?

I’ve always loved to read. I started posting books on my Instagram just telling everyone what I was currently reading, and they seemed to love it and engage in conversation with me. So one of my best friends, Karah Preiss, and I decided to start a book club as a kind of place where we curate books that we love for other people our age and just create a place that starts meaningful conversations around books. I couldn’t really find one online, so I thought, why not create one? And personally I am drawn to memoirs, but we’re going to start featuring lots of different kinds of books on our site.

Our book of the month for May is “Marlena” by Julie Buntin, and it’s a really, really beautiful but also sad novel about female friendships and how they affect us throughout our lives. So, yeah, we’re basically picking books that we love. Other than that, there’s not really any criteria for them because we want it to be fresh and exciting every month.

What was it like getting to interview Joan Didion?

I was just so excited that she said yes because everybody kind of said that that was a long shot. So to me, it felt really gratifying that she understood what we were trying to do with Belletrist and wanted to support that and wanted to help us with our launch. It just made me fall in love with her more because she’s really affected reading and writing for me and has just given me such perspective on so many things. So to get to introduce her to my fans if they didn’t know her before has been really nice.

What other projects are you working on?

I’m leaving for Canada this weekend to do “Little Italy,” a romantic comedy with Hayden Christensen. I’ve been a fan of his forever, so it’s going to be really exciting to work with him. And the director of the movie is Donald Petrie, who did “Miss Congeniality,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” and he also did “Mystic Pizza” with my aunt [Julia Roberts] so I just worship all of his movies. I’m so excited that I get to do something fun and different and work with some amazingly talented people.

sonaiya.kelley@latimes.com

follow me on twitter @sonaiyak


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