< Back to front page Text size +

Farewell to Oprah's Book Club

Posted by Josh Rothman  May 25, 2011 11:24 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

With Oprah Winfrey's final show airing today, publishers are saying goodbye to Oprah's Book Club -- it had an extraordinary ability to transform modest best-sellers into mega-hits. Matthew Flamm of Crain's puts the Book Club in context:

Wait til you get a load of this!
Though her influence waned in the past few years, the host of Oprah’s Book Club chalked up a record for pushing titles into the sales stratosphere that no other media personality could match.... Still, some observers point out that Ms. Winfrey sometimes lavished her attentions on authors who were either dead, like John Steinbeck and William Faulkner, or already well-known, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And she was hardly the only book-loving host.

“She definitely leaves a hole in a cultural regard, but she might hold up a book on her show ever month or two or three,” said Michael Norris, senior analyst with Simba Information, which tracks the book industry. “Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart do that four times a week.”

The most interesting aspect of the Book Club, to my mind, was the way that it highlighted great books from the past -- Great Expectations, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Anna Karenina -- and difficult books from the present, like The Road. It's a good thing she didn't propose a book four times a week -- it takes a while to read and digest three Faulkner novels! The complete list is here. And, if you missed it, here's one of the oddest literary moments of the past few years: Cormac McCarthy's first, and awesome, television appearance, on Oprah.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


Browse this blog

by category