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Footnotes > Oprah's Book Club

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message 1: by AJ (new)

AJ Timberlake (ajtimberlake) | 822 comments I am curious, why is Oprah's book club considered to be a thing lacking in literary merit? I have heard many readers guiltily confess to a read they really enjoyed being an Oprah's Book Club pick. In Gilmore Girls Rory says "don't let the Oprah's Book Club sticker fool you". Does anyone know why this would constitute a "bookish confession"?


message 2: by Susie (last edited Jan 22, 2020 02:37PM) (new)

Susie | 4488 comments Well today it is because she has chosen a controversial book for her first book of the year, American Dirt. If you Google you'll find the details, but the short version is that #ownvoices have been ignored, which is big news for someone so high profile.

On a broader note, I used to be one of those people, however I have looked at the list of books she has chosen and I have loved a lot of them, so I've stopped being a snob!


message 3: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6324 comments Some of it is likely triggered by the literary community spouting disdain from envy that her choosing a specific book immediately catapults it to best seller and big $$. Literary awards don't bring that same $$ bump. Part is the snobbery of those who read 'literature' rather than 'best sellers' . It is just another version of the disdain to genre reading like romance novels and cozy mysteries.

I tend to avoid Oprah Picks as a steady diet because I find them depressing or tough reads. However I have read and liked most of her picks, most recently A Virtuous Woman which I loved. I already have American Dirt on my TBR. I would say for me Oprah label warns me this will not be a light easy read and to stock up on the tissues.


message 4: by Meli (last edited Jan 22, 2020 09:16AM) (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3149 comments I think her readership is mostly women, really most book clubs are dominated by women, so in addition to what others already mentioned I think there is also the "chic lit" syndrome at play. Oprah is a woman, women read her books, it must be all romance and Nora Roberts *hard eye roll*

I have heard her criticized as addicted to tragedy porn. If it's a tragic story she will love it :P (which Theresa alluded to)


message 5: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7710 comments I don't read a ton of Oprah Book Club selections, despite finding most of them intriguing, but I think she has a really strong emphasis on social justice and race relations. Which I think is great!

Not every book fits this description, but I think more of her books do than don't.

And, I think her selections have more literary and societal merit than Reese Witherspoon's book club. lol. And don't get me wrong, I read many of Reese's selections and thoroughly enjoy them, but they lean heavily to unreliable narrator thrillers.


message 6: by AJ (new)

AJ Timberlake (ajtimberlake) | 822 comments Reese Witherspoon picks are often crowd pleasers which is probably why they go down so well. I do enjoy many of them and have found some real gems.


message 7: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 1182 comments Of the 86 on the tag, I’ve read 51. Many I would have read anyway, and you don’t get much more ‘highbrow’ lit than 100 Years of Solitude, Anna Karenina, or Toni Morrison- all picks, and considered some of the best books in the world.

If it wasn’t for Oprah, many people wouldn’t have read some of these.

True, some of her picks aren’t great, and seem like tragedy porn, but I give her credit for trying to encourage teens and adults to read.


message 8: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 5501 comments I have enjoyed many of the Oprah picks over the years. Some I have read prior to them being picked by Oprah. Some of her picks are very literary and have been award winners.

She does seem to like the theme of resilience and perseverance and chooses books with social themes.

Here is a look at her picks:
https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainmen...

Her latest pick American Dirt is one I have considered, but my hesitation is one the main criticism is that it is cultural appropriation.

Here is an article about it:
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment...


message 9: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6324 comments Tracy wrote: "If it wasn’t for Oprah, many people wouldn’t have read some of these..."

and that ... along with the social economic diversity of women (especially) who have read these books because they religiously (along with their friends, sisters, and mothers) read Oprah Picks because it is Oprah who recommends them ... is reason enough IMHO to support these books.

I definitely consider most of the books picked by Oprah as more literary than genre fiction.

As for Reese - she's picking a wider variety of books, reflective of her generation, background, and interests. Some interest me and I like, others not so much. I discovered and read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows only because of the attention Reese gave to it. Initially her picking Where the Crawdads Sing brought a lot of attention to a book that might have taken a while to gather steam.

I just love and support that celebrity women are promoting reading to their fans and supporters, and not just reading the latest celebrity tell-all or book they are being paid to promote.


message 10: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 1182 comments I saw that Nipsey Hussle, a rapper who died last year, was a big bookworm, and he’s inspired a book group of younger black men:
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&r...


message 11: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6324 comments Tracy wrote: "I saw that Nipsey Hussle, a rapper who died last year, was a big bookworm, and he’s inspired a book group of younger black men:
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&r......"


That's so great! We need more 'cool' influential men like him to inspire reading.


message 12: by Anita (last edited Jan 23, 2020 03:10PM) (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6276 comments Theresa wrote: ".I just love and support that celebrity women are promoting reading to their fans and supporters, and not just reading the latest celebrity tell-all or book they are being paid to promote."

This!

Personally, I think Oprah has made many excellent recommendations over the years, and I would consider quite a few to be literary selections. Not all, but many.

I've read 37 of them. I'd say at least a third of those I would definitely classify as literary fiction.


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