Monday, April 5, 2010

Oprah and Books

I was wondering what is up with Oprah and book selections?  She has not announced anything in a long while that I am aware of.

I'm curious are you, or were you an Oprah Book Club Fan? If so, how many books have you read from her list of (67) below?  Were any of her picks favorites of yours?
I started out reading quite a few of  Oprah's early book club selections beginning in 1996, but as time went by I seemed to read less and less of what she recommended, because I found most to be pretty depressing.  If I counted correctly, I've read (37 out of 67).  Some favorites of mine were: Middlesex, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, The Road, The Bluest Eye, I Know This Much is True, The Rapture of Canaan and She's Come Undone.
Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier

Night by Elie Wiesel
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Light in August by William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Sula by Toni Morrison
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Cane River by Lalita Tademy
Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz 
Open House by Elizabeth Berg
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
Vinegar Hill  by A. Manette Ansay
River, Cross My Heart  by Breena Clarke
Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Jewel by Bret Lott
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
Paradise by Toni Morrison
The Best Way to Play by Bill Cosby
The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby
The Meanest Thing to Say by Bill Cosby
A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard


  1. I'm on her mailing list and she has been sending out stuff regularly but catering to very specific things like celebrity picks, books to movies, etc.

    Looking at the list you provided, I've read lots of her picks and liked several of them. She has so many people choosing books for her, it's not wonder she chooses some good ones.

  2. I have read 18 and none of them were read on Oprah's recommendation. I chose all 18 before they were "Oprah books".

  3. I read quite a few of Oprah's picks until I came to realize that they were all terribly sad and I just couldn't read any for a while. That and I didn't want to read them just because someone else said I should.

  4. Whether you like her picks or not, I think Oprah does a good job of introducing the general public to books they normally wouldn't select.

  5. Diane, I thought she had stopped doing this a while ago, because she was too busy. I've read only a handful of "Oprah's books".

    Great post!

  6. I worked in a bookstore when she started her book club, and while the volume of people coming in who said things like "I haven't been in a book store in 10 years" and "I haven't read a book in 20 years" was horrifying, getting those people reading was awesome. I read a bunch in the beginning, and some others mostly through coincidence (14.5 total). I wish she'd revitalize the book club and getting people reading again. Yes, they all have some traumatic elements to them, but doesn't that describe 90% of general or women's fiction (not genre)? Great topic!

  7. I've read 32. My favorites are Middlesex, Pillars of the Earth, A Fine Balance, House of Sand and Fog, The Poisonwood Bible, Where the Heart Is, I Know This Much is True, Black and Blue, and A Lesson Before Dying.

    Like you, I started out reading a lot from her list back in the mid-90s. I don't pay much attention to what she chooses anymore.

    I can't believe she hasn't picked The Help or Mudbound this year.

  8. I personally don't listen to celebrities' recommendations. But Oprah has recommended some truly great books. She's even had people reading Faulkner. Good for her!

  9. Two things of note:
    1) I totally agree. "The O's" list is very depressing, overall.
    2) I have read many of the ones you have not read and vice versa!

    I have not read her selections on purpose. Some were books I had read anyway: EAST OF EDEN (you'll love this one) and AS I LAY DYING (one of Faulkner's best, I think).

    Seem The O likes only books that make her feel something other than joy. However, many on the list are excellent at doing character pieces AND good plots and that's a savvy combination.

    I just wish the darn "O" sticker wasn't on the cover of her selected books.

    True Confession: I have never once seen Oprah's show! (usually not home and just wouldn't think to tape it.) I am, however, glad she gives back to the greater community and the world.

    As for books and book choices, I listen first and foremost these days to you and as many book bloggers as I can. That's the true heartbeat of what's up and what's great...or on its way to be!

  10. I was pretty faithful in the first few years (and thank her for putting Wally Lamb on my radar!), but my interest tapered off after awhile...for exactly the same reason as you. My mom and I had a discussion about this very thing one day...

  11. I recall 9 of them. Her picks were so eclectic that I truly wondered if she took into account her demographics.

    I loved the Road, even though parts had me wondering.
    Even though it proved to be a gimmick I still enjoyed a Million Little Pieces,
    East of Eden will always be on my all time favorites list but I think read it before it became an Oprah pick, and
    Poisonwood Bible is good, but I don't recall being as grossed out by the ants as she was.

    For me there were a few good ones, mostly the group was so-so with too many books involving a woman trying to find herself and a few that I was sure that she was trying to prove that Americans are uneducated - William Faulkner. Really? Faulkner is an author that you need to have a college course in to fully understand.

  12. I've read a couple and own a couple more, but I'm like you...They are just too much sometimes. I like to be uplifted, not depressed.

  13. I went down the list and think I've read 10 of them. I was never a regular reader of them though. Like you, I found many depressing. That being said, some of my favorite books of all time are on the list:

    A Fine Balance, Middlesex, I Know This Much is True, A Lesson Before Dying

  14. I've never been an O Club fan or even seen her TV show. Nevertheless, I've read 13 on the list, many before the covers were changed with her seal of approval on them.

    I still laugh at her choice of the 3 volume set of Faulkner—3 of his most difficult novels.

    After getting burned by Franzen and then Frey, I think she tiptoes carefully around the bookstore.

  15. I like Oprah books and will usually read them eventually but not right away. My favorites on her list are probably Poisonwood Bible and Vinegar Hill.

  16. I belong to a book club that started in 2003 when the pick was East of Eden. There was a place on her website that you could connect with people in your area and join a book club.
    We did read East of Eden (love it!) but, since, have read our own choices. Our latest choice is The Day The Falls Stood Still.
    Yes, we're still together and have been since July 2003 :o)

  17. I've read a few of her books and a few more are on my tbr list. I usually wind up reading them because someone I know recommends them to me.

  18. Nope, I dnt follow her book selections - and I think I have read nothing on this list either!

  19. I have read quite a few, but not because they were on her list. I like her choices, but I hate when the book has the Oprah label on it.

  20. I used to read Oprah's selections, but after looking at your list, realize I stopped reading what she picked in 2001. I still look at her book section in her magazine since that seems to have some really good upcoming releases.

  21. I've read 29, several before Oprah chose them. After a while my book club began referring to her choices as the "downtrodden women books".

    My favorites have been the classics (The Good Earth, East of Eden, Anna Karenina, and As I Lay Dying), Wally Lamb's books, The Corrections, and A Fine Balance.

  22. I had no idea Oprah had recommended so many books! I counted and it looks like I read 17 or 18 of them. I'm not sure if I read them because she recommended them or not though.

  23. I did a quick check against your list of Oprah books and found I read 24 (give or take - it's early and my eyes aren't completely open). Not all of them were read with her club. Some I read before (Pillars of the Earth being one) and others long after. Like Jill, she put Wally Lamb on my radar and I'm not sure I'd have read East of Eden without her highlighting it. And I really liked that book. In the last few years, though, I haven't paid much attention to her picks (which I'm sure coincides with the time I've been blogging).
    Great topic, Diane!

  24. I've only read 5 on that list, of which I liked 3 of them. They are depressing, and that's one thing that makes me give a good gap between two Oprah picks. Though I've been wondering as well why there haven't been many new picks.

  25. I don't at all follow her picks, as I always have the vague (and apparently correct!) impression that she selects depressing books. I've read five of those, none of them as a result of her recommendation, and mostly because they were required for school courses.

  26. I once had the goal to have read all the books on her list, but now not so much. I have read a lot of them, and for the most part, I agree with her picks. You're right, though, be ready for a dark, depressing read when you pick up something she touts. Whether good or bad, I appreciate the fact that if she touches it, it turns to gold. If it gets folks to read, that can't be a bad thing.

  27. I would always look to see what Oprah recommends and I have read quite a few of the titles she has chosen, but after awhile I thought her choices were too depressing. Some of her chosen books I read before she chose them. I too hate the big O on the cover. I know she generates alot of sales but I don't think the O is necessary.

  28. I've read a number of these and probably read more at the beginning of her book recommending days. Many I've read not necessarily b/c of Oprah. Favorites include Middlesex and A Fine Balance.

  29. Maybe as Oprah is finishing up her run next year, she is redesigning or getting rid of the book club?

  30. I used to read quite a lot of her selections, but much like you, I stopped because they were just too depressing. I did enjoy quite a few, but after reading Songs In Ordinary Time, one of the most depressing books I have ever read, I gave up on the Oprah picks.

  31. I have read a couple of Oprah's recommendations and whenever I do, I'm always thouroughly enjoyed!

  32. I've read 38 of those....when she first started I followed her religiously and now not so much. But my favorite(s) are Edgar Sawtelle and The Road.

  33. I've read 18 of them, although I've never paid attention to what she was recommending. You're right, though, she does tend towards the depressing books!

  34. Impressive list. I have never sought out her recommendations, so if I have read some, it is quite by accident.

  35. I have always enjoyed Oprah's picks - especially her earlier ones. I had a hard time with the Faulkner picks and haven't read any of her picks since (but I bought them of course!). I especially enjoyed "Beloved", "Mother of Pearl" and "White Oleander".

  36. I actually try to collect Oprah Book Club books at library book sales. I tend to like her picks, they make me think. :-)

  37. I have bought more of her selections than I have read -- by far. My favorite of hers was Tara Road (which I read while in Ireland, making it even more special)with The Pilot's Wife. Midwives is also a favorite but my F2F read it months before she chose it. Bohjalian has continued to be a favorite author. I wish she would continue with it monthly but with her show winding down I think she probably figures she's done enough for reading LOL - I know of several people who hadn't read a book since college who started reading her selections. She also made many authors millionaires. And I have found many new authors through her so I'll always be grateful!

  38. I always enjoyed the Oprah book club selections that I read. She definitely helped me to expand my reading horizons.

  39. I've read 37 on the list as well! I read them mainly with her book club highlighting them but a few on my own. I stopped reading them the last few years except for a few as I felt they were so dark and depressing. I do credit her for encouraging me to read Tolstoy. My friend and I read Anna Karenina that summer and would disuss it at the pool. We were so proud of ourselves for getting through the book and we both liked it. My favorites are Stones from the River, I know this much is True, Poisonwood Bible, East of Eden and Anna Karenina. I wish that she would have more book club shows. I heard that her new TV show on her network may include a book club.

  40. I know a lot of people complain about "Oprah Book Club" picks but I think she did the book industry a huge favor ... and she doesn't pick bad books! I've read quite a few ... some on purpose and some by accident and some are on my TBR list for the year. I think it is great that she encourages reading. I hope she isn't giving it up though.

  41. Out of all those on the list, I've only read four:

    1) The Road
    2) The Measure of a Man
    3) Night by Elie Wiesel
    4) The Reader

    I have a couple of the others in my TBR.

  42. I've read quite a few of them, and have quite a few more on my shelves (someday I'll get to them!), but I haven't been inclined to pick any of them up lately. Most were ok books, but usually sad like others mentioned. One that was a complete miss for me was Icy Sparks. I didn't like that one at all! Midwives and Night were 2 that I enjoyed.


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