Thursday, September 23, 2010

Has Lady O influenced my bookshelf?

Fair warning, this will be a long post. Last week Oprah announced her latest book club pick, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Now that some of the fanfare and controversy has died down, I decided to take stock of some my book picks. I admit it, I am one of the people who was a little perturbed by the pick. When Oprah picked his previous book, The Corrections in 2001, I bought it. I found it to be rather BORING, but at 19 I probably wasn't in the right frame of mind to read it. The themes were probably bigger than I could wrap my teenage brain around. At 28, I might have a greater appreciation for it now. I must admit, I'm tempted to buy Freedom. But before I do that, I want to take a look back on how Oprah has influenced my bookshelf.

The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard (did not read it)
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (did not read it)
The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton (did not read it)

I Know This Much Is True (Oprah's Book Club)She's Come Undone (Oprah's Book Club)She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb (I did read this one, but I bought it years after Oprah picked it. I read it during college, and loved it. Didn't even notice the Oprah moniker, but this is one of her great picks.)
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi (did not read it. until today, I had never heard of it)
The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds (did not read it)
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou (see above)
Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris (ditto!)
White Oleander (Oprah's Book Club)A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (maybe Oprah hasn't influenced me, didn't read this either)
Where the Heart Is (Oprah's Book Club)The Best Way to Play by Bill Cosby (no)

The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby (still no)
The Meanest Thing to Say by Bill Cosby (maybe I just wasn't into reading then)
A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons (no)
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons (no)

The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (P.S.)Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (I have read this one, but again not because of Oprah. I saw the movie on a cross-country fight before I read the book. I thought the movie was cute, and a couple of weeks later I picked up the book. I like the book and the movie, a rare occurrence for me.)

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian (I really want to read this one. I saw it on a shelf in Borders a couple of months ago, without the book club sticker. Didn't know this was one of her picks until now.)
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage (nope)
While I Was GoneMidwives (Oprah's Book Club)I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb (LOVE THIS ONE! It took me several months to get through, but I loved it. I'm not sure if Lady O influenced this. I read this one in 2001, but back then that sticker meant something to me. If Oprah picked the book, it must be good.)
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat (no)
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen (nope)
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman (no)
Paradise by Toni Morrison (no, but maybe at some point)
The Corrections: A Novel1999:
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

The Bluest EyeVinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
Tara Road by Maeve Binchy (I've heard of her, but never read one of her books.)
Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes (no)
East of EdenWhite Oleander by Janet Fitch (This one I picked up in an airport. Where I was? I have no idea, but I remember it was an airport. That sticker did mean something, but the story equalling compelling. I thought the movie was awful. Big chunks of it were left out, making for a bad move!)
Cane RiverThe Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve (no)
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (no)
Jewel by Bret Lott (no)
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (no)

Night (Oprah's Book Club)Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz (no)
Open House by Elizabeth Berg (no again)
Anna Karenina (Oprah's Book Club)The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (I have to thank Oprah for introducing me to Barbara Kingsolver. I loved the Poisonwood Bible. I have since read Pigs in Heaven, The Bean Trees, Prodigal Summer, and Animal Dreams -- all by Kingsolver. The Poisonwood Bible started it all.)
Middlesex: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)While I Was Gone by Sue Miller (Bought it because of Oprah, and didn't like it. I found it boring.)
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (I read this one for a college English class.)
Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell (I have to find another word for no)
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende (nope)
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan (no)

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (After reading it, I didn't get the hype.)
Cane River by Lalita Tademy (I bought it, read one chapter and haven't read it since. It wasn't my cup of tea.)
Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir (no)
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio (no)
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (no. wasn't this a Lifetime movie?)


Sula by Toni Morrison (no)
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald (no)

Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton (no)

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (I know this is a classic, but I bought this because of Oprah. I read about 100 pages and stopped. Not because it was a bad book, but I went long periods without reading it. I will return to it someday.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (no)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (I'm tempted, but it's so long.)
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (nope)
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (no)
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey (I have not read it, but I loved watching Oprah's smackdown of Frey.)

Light in August by William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (no)

Night by Elie Wiesel (Read this one for a high school English class. Awesome book, everyone should read it.)

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (no, that looks long)

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (no)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Buy enough books online, and you get a lot of suggestions sent to you. This is one of my suggestions. I bought it, and it has been sitting on my shelf for nearly a year. It will get read, I just don't know when.)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (I haven't read it, but I've heard mixed review on it.)
The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier (no)
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (no. It seems new age, and not my style.)
Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian JungleFreedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)2009:
Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan (no)

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (Maybe. If I'm in some place where it's deeply discounted, I might break!)

If you made it all the through, THANK YOU!! So, Lady O has made 64 selections for her club. Of those 64 I have read or am tempted to read 15 of them. It's about to become 16, because I was typing this post while watching Wednesday's episode of Oprah. Former captive Ingrid Betancourt was on Wednesday's show, and after watching I REALLY want to read that book! In conclusion, I guess Lady O has influenced me -- roughly 25% of the time. Overwhelming scientific isn't it?


  1. Okay, I love book lists, so this is a fun post for me. I typically think twice about a book if it is an Oprah book because I assume it will be depressing (and not the heartwarming kind of depressing either.) So I was surprised to see that I've read 16 of these books! Most of them were through my book club, but still--interesting!

    (btw, I found you through the Hop, but got sidetracked on this to read more) :)

  2. I used Oprah didn't have THAT much of an impact. But when you look back through that list, it's easy to see how Lady O has made her way onto my bookshelf. I do agree, some of the books are depressing.

  3. Great post! I read a few of these because of Oprah and a few just because I'd already wanted to. I already had plans to read Freedom as well.

    I loooved I Know This Much is True too!