From his favorite celebrity books to the inspiration behind his iconic videos, the British content creator spent a day with us in New York talking about what he loves most.
Jack Edwards has not been inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art yet, but it’s on his list. The list, which he has curated from friends, TikToks about New York, and of course, books, includes everything from the trendiest thrift stores in the East Village to the bright spots that plague his route to writing class in Times Square.
His favorite city spot so far? Coffeeshops.
“There’s something so ironic about bringing a book to a coffeeshop and not reading a single word because everything happening around you is too interesting,” the British Youtuber said. “The best thing in this city is to go to a cafe and people-watch. I could do it all day and not be tired of it. It’s a unique thing to New York.”
In the past year, Jack has grown tremendously on the internet. His social media accounts, which he describes as a close-knit community rather than individual platforms, now amount to more than two million followers. Whether it’s by studying a particular trend of books or concocting novel-inspired Halloween costumes, Jack has been engaging people of all ages and helping them become avid readers. His power and influence over what TikTok, specifically Gen-Z readers are consuming is undeniable.
“The goal has always been to make people read more,” Jack admitted. “That’s why I do what I do.”
Throughout our day, we move from the MET steps to the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park to a cozy corner at Ralph’s Coffee on the east side. Our conversation sees the sun travel across the sky, but time continues to go on without any weight to it. I quickly discover that everything there is to Jack holds so much meaning, intent, and purpose, making it impossible to limit our conversation to a set of pre-drafted questions. He is a natural storyteller, and over a couple of oat lattes and a kitchen sink cookie, myself and the people sitting around the table find ourselves hanging onto his every word.
During our conversation, he reveals his favorite celebrity book list belongs to Dua Lipa, and that he did bring lots of books to New York. A mention of Midnights, Taylor Swift’s newest album, inspires him to brainstorm ideas aloud for videos he will create in the future. He shares stories about his most recent trip to Cambodia where he worked with United World Schools to help set up schools and learning opportunities in local communities. He breaks down his favorite books, from the one that’s made him the most sentimental to the one he feels has changed how he sees the world. He shares in detail the backstory of one of his book-inspired Halloween costumes, along with his hopes that at least one person in this city gets it.
The one thing about Jack I did not anticipate is how good of a conversationalist he is. It doesn't matter if our coffee talk shifted from writing school to New York nightlife to his temporary residency in Paris, he finds ways to nurture every conversation with the charm and familiarity of an old friend. Jack's spirit and essence is so easy going and genuine that I quickly understood why so many people trust him with their book choices.
As our conversation continues to flow, it becomes even more clear that beyond a content creator or an influencer or a book lover, Jack Edwards is a guy who contains multitudes inside. And these multitudes are the ones responsible for making him one of the internet’s most beloved guys.
More than a content creator's account, your social media feels like a community. What inspired you to get started?
The best thing about this for me is that it feels like I have a symbiotic relationship with the community. I share my book recs and they share theirs. In fact, a lot of the ideas for videos come from the community. It feels like a group project at times (laughs).
In terms of the inspiration to get started, I think books have always been the thing I love most and they’ve always brought me a lot of joy. I want people to hopefully get to experience that, too. I used to make so much content about university stuff and the thing I always left out were the books because I thought no one would care. Now that’s what we get to talk about all the time and it’s the most fun I've ever had.
I definitely agree with that, especially after seeing those two people approached you in Central Park earlier. It was like you were an old friend to them.
That's exactly how I want people to feel. Production value is not as important to me as it is to make something feel cozy, warm, and inviting. I want it to feel like you’re FaceTiming a friend. I want it to feel like the biggest book club ever.
You just moved to New York to attend a writing class, almost exactly four weeks ago. How has that transition been like?
I love New York. For me, it feels like there is this energy of potential. Everyone is working towards something. I always think of this song by The 1975 called “Love It If We Made It.” And that’s what being in my 20s in New York feels like. Walking around, seeing people, it’s the perfect line. I think about it a lot, and I think New York embodies that potential that you’re gonna make it.
Did you pack a lot of books for your trip here? I saw that your book collection is quite close to qualifying as an official library.
I packed an entire suitcase of books (laughs). In reality, I love learning little facts about books. So when I found out that when you own a thousand books in your collection that counts as a library, I dropped everything and was like, "Now I have to count every single one of my books." I found this out on the day I was packing for my flight to New York, and I still dropped everything. I stressed my mom out so much cause I had to count them all.
How many did you have?
I ended up having 943, which was actually more exciting for me than having a library cause then I could go to the bookstore and justify my spending habits of buying more books. I will say, though, that I'm very conscious about not promoting overconsumption of anything. You do not need to collect a thousand books to be a book lover. You can borrow all your books from the library or from friends and still be an avid reader. I like having the physical copy to show people in my videos, but it's still important to be mindful and not compare yourself to how many books other people own, or their reading habits. But yeah, we're getting close to a library.
Besides gaining library status, are there any other goals you have before the end of the year?
For me, the goal's always been to get more people reading. I have this sort of mission statement for the channel of meeting people halfway and helping them find a book that they’ll enjoy, especially if they don’t currently consider themselves to be readers. Most of us will read as kids and love it, and then you go to school and are introduced to classic books, and you have to dissect every line, and then write an essay on which you’ll be graded on. I want people to know that’s not what reading is always like in the real world, but that’s the introduction for most people, and for some it can make them shy away from being readers.
If you can find a book that engages you, that can make you a reader for life, it is such a powerful thing. There's nothing better than to find that book that makes you excited again.
For someone who almost owns a library, this might be hard, but what book has impacted you the most?
You know, for me, the first books that made me super excited to study literature and think critically about books were dystopian novels. 1984, The Handmaid's Tale, Brave New World. That genre of literature made me a reader for life. Discovering dystopian literature was a game-changer.
Dystopian novels truly have a hold over society, especially YA fiction. This fascination for the genre reminds me of the Timothée Chalamet interview where he says "societal collapse is in the air."
I did a video reading his favorite books and all of them were very existential. It's funny how much insight you can get into people's personalities from the books they read and love. That's why I love doing the celebrity book club series.
Whose book recommendations have you enjoyed the most?
You know, Dua Lipa had some diamonds. I was not surprised, though. She's the token cool girl, the it girl of the moment. Emma Chamberlain had some great ones, though. But I'm going to give the crown to Dua cause she was most in line with what I love reading.
Outside of books, you've been working with United World Schools. What's that experience been like?
They're the most amazing charity. It's really important to me that if I'm gonna throw my weight behind a cause, I want to make sure it's a charity that is doing something amazing, and that they're transparent with how they're helping. They're based in Cambodia. They work with the local communities to make things sustainable, help them during the process, and then teach them how to run them.
You recently went to Cambodia with them right?
Yes! In Cambodia there are so many areas with native languages, and what they do is go to these communities to set up schools so that people can preserve the native language and learn the national language as well. That way they can access more opportunities. It's the perfect example of the way that this charity works. Getting to go and see the communities and the people, and see how grateful they are, was so powerful. I loved meeting so many inspiring young people who love learning. It's truly special what they're doing.
What is something you wish more people knew about you?
Sometimes people will comment things like "there's now way he actually reads all these books." I wish I could sit with them and talk about the books with so much fashion and chat about them. It's so funny to me because throughout history, who would have thought that reading books would make someone cool! I just want to show people the genuine passion I have.
Aside from being an avid reader, I heard you're maybe, possibly writing a novel. Is there anything you can share?
Yes! I’m writing a novel. I’m trying to be super transparent with the process. I started a newsletter about this. Not necessarily about the writing, but more so the behind-the-scenes process like coming up with characters, panning structure, finding agents. I want that to be something that is accessible because publishing can be so confusing to navigate, and not a lot of people are open about the process. I use that newsletter to share parts of my journey, and hopefully it can help others who want to do the same.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.