Oprah’s Book Club: Good or Bad?

“No two persons ever read the same book”
– Edmund Wilson

Earlier this month, Oprah picked Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad’ as the latest addition to her book list. And that made me think – what will the critics say this time?

My first brush with Oprah’s Book Club List

Back in 2011, I came across a site called Coinjoos – it had an amazing collection of second hand books, many of them by my favorite authors. One of these books was ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ by Ken Follett, and it had a small gold ‘O’ in the corner. Googling about it led me to the infamous ‘Oprah’s Book Club List’.

Further scouring of the internet revealed the widespread censure of her Book Club List and the utter dismissal of her ways of selecting books, choice of literature, as well as the legendary ‘Oprah effect’ (drastic improvement in sales/popularity post Oprah’s recommendation).

If you want to view the complete list, click here.

Oprahs Book Club Returns To Promoting Living Authors
(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Piqued by all the negative hype, I decided to see for myself if the books picked by her were really that bad.

The book turned out to be refreshingly different and a very enjoyable read. It had a captivating backdrop, an imaginative story-line, and a healthy dose of melodrama.

My take

Three books down, I wondered what all the hullabaloo was about. Since then, I have read many of the books on Oprah’s list – not just because they were on her list – I had read them and only later found out that they had also been featured by her.

I beg to differ with all those who criticize her list and pinpoint faults in her selection(s).

Why can’t she admit to NOT having read Dickens till now? Why can’t she choose Great Expectations as a holiday read to be enjoyed over a cup of hot chocolate?  Why can’t she just be a book reader for once? And why can’t this be a normal list of recommendations that can be ignored by those who don’t agree?

The ones I have read

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Out of the 75 books in her List, I have read the following, and enjoyed each one of them:

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
A Million Little Pieces – James Frey
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Midwives – Chris Bohjalian
A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle

The ones I own and will read

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The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
Tara Road – Maeve Binchy
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

The ones I plan to read in the future

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Cane River – Lalita Tedemy
Drowning Ruth – Christina Schwarz
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
I Know This Much Is True – Wally Lamb
Jewel – Bret Lott
Open House – Elizabeth Berg
White Oleander – Janet Finch

Have you read any of the books in her list? Do you agree/disagree with me?
Do let me know 🙂

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