Friday, April 25, 2008

Oprah's Book Club

Who has strong feelings either for or against Oprah?

I don't get why, but people have such a strong opposition against Oprah. Then again, some people absolutely adore her. I feel like people either love her or hate her--no in between. It must be the money/popularity/power thing...

Anyway, the point of this blog stems from books (of course) because of Oprah's book club. I was going through my books this past week and I noticed how many were stamped with Oprah's book club stamp. It just made me think...

Who chooses these books? Oprah? How does she have the time to do that?

Has Oprah read and approved all of these books? When does she read them? Doesn't she have a busy, busy schedule?

What qualities must a book have to become in her approved club? Do they have to do with oppression of some kind? What criteria must they possess?

One thing I noticed too is that some are old classics, such as Fitzgerald, and others are newer, like James Frey. How are these picked out of the millions published?

Do the authors need to agree to being a part of this? Do they have any choice in the matter? Some are dead...

Here is a list of the books in her club:

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Deep End of the Ocean by by Jacquelyn Mitchard
The Meanest Thing to Say by Bill Cosby
The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby
The Best Way to Play by Bill Cosby
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
Songs in Ordinary Time by Marry 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
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
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
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 Isabelle Allende
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
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
Sula by Toni Morrison
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
A Light in August by William Faulkner
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

I want a book club. I want my own list! (See my LibraryThing website on the side link to see my books...)

Have you read any of these books? Which do you like/dislike? Can you answer any of my above questions?


Megan B said...

I'd like to think that Oprah pours herself into the vast array of books available to read, narrows down a list, and then scrutinizes each and every single one of them before she chooses the most perfect of all to promote for a period of time.

Knowing what I (think that I) know about Oprah, and media, and insider connections, I have a feeling that a decent portion of the book choices have more to do with money, promotion, and face time than they do with the actual value of the book.

With the exception of the (more) classics, as you mentioned, like Toni Morrison, Leo Tolstoy, Isabelle Allende, and William Faulkner, many of the books are newer releases. She has hosted countless numbers of these authors on her shows to ask questions and to promote their books. I'm sure that a statistic exists which shows sales of a certain author's book skyrocketing after it's feature on her show- especially an edgy book like Middlesex or A Million Little Pieces. So what's in it for Oprah? I can't imagine that she only reaps benefits of pure joy and pride knowing that she philanthropically gave of her precious air time for the sole benefit of the author. Come on. Sure, Oprah does her fair share of giveaways and charity benefits, but she's also a businesswoman for crying out loud. Businesspeople don't do business for free. Period.

Regardless of the monetary exchange involved, I've read five of Oprah's (or Oprah's team's) choices, and not one single choice has disappointed me. Of Oprah's books, I've read:
-White Oleander by Janet Fitch
-Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
-She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
-I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

I own several other selections from the Book Club, and once I get over my reader's block (it's similar to writer's block...) I plan to read Gap Creek by Robert Morgan.

Overall, with money issues (and character issues) aside, I think it's great that Oprah is promoting literature the way that she is. Coming from a fellow English Geek, getting people to read is better than not getting people to read.

Jami said...

I agree about the fact that it's good that Oprah is getting a larger group of people to read. I don't think we're reading as much as we should. But you're right, and I didn't really think of it or put it in my blog: she is a business woman. She promotes products to sell. Given, Oprah is also very generous, giving away tons of random stuff to audience members (LIKE CARS...) but I still bet that it can't be all candy and lollipops. There must be a business deal somewhere. I'm with you on that one.