Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Who is that Oprah-chick and why would I read books she recommends???

Here's your sign: source
I have never been a fan of Oprah. The two (yes, two) episodes I watched of her show made me a] angry and b] cry...neither emotion I like being evoked from me against my will by a woman I do not know...I could go on, but I don't want hate mail from the Oprah camp (although the numbers are smaller than 2 years ago, they could still flash mob me to death if they had the mind to do so).

The other day a Goodreads member commented on a group I'm in, Reading the Chunksters, about how our next book East of Eden was at one time an Oprah read. This comment elicited several responses and made for an interesting discussion.

You see, in the not to distant past, if I saw a book that had the Oprah seal of approval I boycotted the book on principle (a principle I will not get into because of the fear I have of the aforementioned beat down). If I wanted to read an Oprah book or read a book that became an Oprah book I felt dumber and I felt robbed of my delicious reading experience.

I realized, in talking/arguing whatever, that I really do have a reason that I dislike the Oprah Book Club and this reason has nothing to do with Oprah or her show, per se. I truly dislike the book selections, again I stress, not because of the selector (who I'm sure didn't select the books without a board of trusted book readers), but because of their content. No one can argue that Oprah chose some great classics to read, her last selection was a Tale of Two Cities and she had also chosen Love in the Time Cholera, Night, Faulkner, Tolstoy, Pearl Buck...I could go on...lots of good stuff.

The reason for my dislike is so simple, I'm surprised I didn't notice it before...I dislike tales of melancholy and I dislike tales in which the main character spends most of the book moping around practically screaming 'woes is me'. I've read 14 books on the list and out of those books I could not find one, not one that was uplifting, and not one left me feeling like I could tackle the world...several made me cry. And, you can just look at these two posts (One Day, She's Come Undone) to know that I am not into a good cry in the name of literature.

Will I start reading more books that the club has endorsed because I have now found the reason I have been avoiding them? No, probably not. Will I stop thinking of Oprah as some sort of She-Devil? Hmmm...I don't think so. But, I promise I will stop saying "Oprah is dumb because she picks trashy books". That statement is SO NOT true!


  1. Tbh, I don't think she reads all the books in her book club. Maybe I'm being mean, but I've always thought of it as a pr stunt, since everyone knows that if she mentions a book (or anything, really) it's going to be a hit with her fans.

    However, this year she mentioned one of my favourite books that has been re-released in the US (the author mentioned it on his fb page, I have no idea what O does) and I thought "great pr for him" because he's awesome - Us by Michael Kimball, if you care - Although maybe not because it's about loss and sorrow. And then she had mentioned Bright's Passage by Josh Ritter, and again I thought the same thing. One comment on Josh's fb page was something to the effect of "please don't let the O-crowd fall in love with him so that we now have to fight them for tickets to Josh's gigs." Somehow I felt like they'll just read the book and not worry about his music, but what do I know...

    I will confess to ruining the cover of a book because it had that stupid Oprah Book Club sticker on it. I do not want to see that. I feel like a literary snob for saying that, because "she" does pick good books, as you pointed out. Ah well, to each their own...

  2. FBT, your comment has filled me with delight! i have to agree with you, especially about the ticket price thing. it seems that when O endorses something things get crazy! i just learned about josh ritter through neil gaiman's blog, but haven't read anything by him, but first heard him on the, please don't laugh, House MD soundtrack! and, thanks for telling me about US i'll check it out, even if it is sad! :D it's funny because i would just buy the book and take the sticker off...then they started putting it directly into the cover...i started finding the books used (gosh! i can be really obstinent sometimes!:P)!

  3. Oh, I love House. I've had a crush on Hugh Laurie (and Stephen Fry) since A Bit of Fry and Laurie. And again, I was really delighted for Josh when they put the song on the soundtrack (Good Man, wasn't it).

    Yeah, that sticker is what I meant. When I was peeling it off, I ripped the entire cover and it was ruined. But like you said, now it's directly on the cover and I refuse to buy those (and not just for Oprah, but any book club). Now, if there was a Stephen Fry book club I'd keep it on, but that's for another day.

  4. yes, it's 'good man' and it is a great song. oh that sticker should not be on books that good, that's HORRIBLE! i'm sorry that it ruined your book. and, i agree, on principle i do not buy book club books, i also don't buy movie tie-in covers...gosh, the more i talk the more elitist i find i really am! :P and, yes, i'm sure stephen fry would have excellent taste in books, i also have no problem reading anything stephen colbert talks about on his show! :D



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