Friday, September 17, 2010

Oprah's Book Club Pick

Here's the thing about being a writer: every non-writer that you are related to, friends with, or even vaguely know will try and offer you this little tidbit of wisdom: send your book to Oprah! I can't tell you the number of times I've politely uh-huh-ed, laughed, smiled, or just generally tried to ignore this comment. Of course, I'm sometimes tempted to answer, why didn't I think of that! Ha!

But somewhere hidden in that quite unhelpful advice, I think there's some optimism, part of what I love about being a writer, the possibility of well, possibility. Things -- great, Oprah-like, things -- can sometimes happen to your book. I'm bringing this up now because, in case you haven't heard, Oprah will be announcing her next (and final) book club pick on her show today.

I love Oprah (who by the way, I think is pretty much like a paragon of positivity) -- isn't her go-to phrase "live your best life?" And as soon as I heard she was picking her next club pick, I immediately thought of the writer. The writer, who, I'm sure, has heard from countless friends and family and co-workers and strangers over the years, "Why don't you just send your book to Oprah?" Maybe that writer struggled to get published or struggled with bouts of writing pessimism (like I have), or maybe that writer once looked at his/her novel and wondered if anyone ever anywhere would read it (like I have). And then there is the fact that that writer will now be able call his/her friends and family and even random strangers, and say, Hey, guess what? I did send my book to Oprah. . . !

It seems there's already some controversy over this pick, as it was supposedly leaked yesterday that she's chosen Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. (You can read an article about it here .) My Twitterfeed was filled all day with reactions to this news, most of it negative, for reasons varying from the fact that Franzen has already gotten so much press for the book, that he shunned Oprah once before, and that Oprah should've chosen a lesser-known woman author. I don't know Franzen, and I haven't read Freedom yet, but I have been following some of the controversy surrounding him (and reviewers' treatment of him as late), and I guess my point is that in everything I've been reading there's so much. . . negativity.

So I'll definitely be tuning into Oprah today to see what her pick is. Do you think it really will be Franzen's book? And how do you feel about this choice? Are there any books/authors you'd be rooting for?

For me personally, I'm almost hoping it'll turn out to be a book I've never heard of by an author I've never heard of, because that, to me, is the true positive thing about Oprah's club, that she's able to show millions of readers an amazing book that they might, otherwise, never have heard of.

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