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Thanks for Oprah: The Oprah Meme

So a few days ago I’m somewhere, not around librarians, and I mention that I really like what Oprah has done for reading, and a couple of people say, but her choices are terrible. So I decided to test that hypothesis, and concluded that I wouldn’t mind being as bad a writer as half the folks on Oprah’s book club list.

Sure, the list has some schlock, as does my own personal list of reading favorites. But I stand by what I said (I seem to be doing that a lot this week–my feet hurt!): Oprah has done a lot of good. She has put books in the hands of people who hadn’t been reading, and got them turning pages. Not only that, in rummaging through the list, I like a lot of her choices, from Edwige Danticat to Carson McCullers. (I notice she is gracious enough to list Jonathan Franzen, who I consider a cad and an oaf for his reaction to Oprah selecting The Corrections for her list.)

The books from Oprah’s list I remember reading are bolded and starred below. I am ashamed to admit that for me, a little Toni Morrison goes a very long way. As for East of Eden, I have this sneaking feeling it’s part of that blurred Steinbeck experience in my head… let’s see, something about a turtle, right? And I read War and Peace, but not Anna Karenina–the latter sounds to me like a great book for a long train ride, though then again, the list of books I want to read is so long that Anna Karenina would have to fight hard to be a finalist. Finally, House of Sand and Fog is on my short to-read list, though winter break ’tis very, very brief and I haven’t finished John Keegan’s history of World War II (but I know how it ends).

Which Oprah books have you read? Which ones did you like (or not like)? Do you join me in saying, Thanks be to Oprah?

Oprah’s Book Club list

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell
The Best Way To Play by Bill Cosby
* Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
* The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
* The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
* Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Cane River by Lalita Tademy
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
* Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
* The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard
* Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
* Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
* The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
* The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
* Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
* Jewel by Bret Lott
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
* A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
The Meanest Thing To Say by Bill Cosby
* Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
* Open House by Elizabeth Berg
* Paradise by Toni Morrison
* The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
* The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
* River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Songs In Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris
Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
Sula by Toni Morrison
Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby
Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons
We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
* Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
* While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
White Oleander by Janet Fitch

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