Reading with Oprah

Reading with Oprah Cover

Reading with Oprah

The Book Club That Changed America

By Kathleen Rooney

University of Arkansas Press, Paperback, 9781557288738, 284pp.

Publication Date: March 27, 2008

Description
Adored by its fans, deplored by its critics, Oprah's Book Club has been at the center of arguments about cultural authority and literary taste since it began in 1996. Reading with Oprah explores the club's revolutionary fusion of books, television, and commerce and tells the engaging and in-depth story of the OBC phenomenon. Kathleen Rooney combines extensive research with a dynamic voice to reveal the club's far-reaching cultural impact and its role as crucible for the clash between "high" and "low" literary taste. Comprehensive and up-to-date, the book covers the club from its inception in 1996, through the Jonathan Franzen contretemps, the surprising suspension in 2002, and, after the club's return in 2003, the progression from "great books" to memoir. New material includes an extensive look at the James Frey scandal and Oprah's turn to contemporary fiction, including The Road and Middlesex. Through close examination of Winfrey's picks and personal interviews with book club authors and readers, Rooney demonstrates how the club that Barbara Kingsolver calls "one of the best possible uses of a television set" has, according to Wally Lamb, "gotten people of all ages to read, to read more, and to read widely."