"You get a book and you get a book and you get a book! You all get books!"
August 18, 2015
I've never been an Oprah fan. Her shows don't engage me, I don't buy into her particular brand of "woo", and I wanted to gouge my eyeballs out when her signature was emblazoned all over the drinks board at my beloved house of worship (Starbucks... all praise the Basic White Bitch).
So I was surprised at how annoyed I was the other night when my husband looked at the seal on my copy of Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende and guffawed "OPRAH?! I'm sure that's a book of substance!"
Understanding that he's not familiar with Allende's work, I realized he had no idea what he was talking about. But his reaction to a simple sticker started me wondering about what other people think when they see this seemingly inoffensive seal.
So I decided to go all scientific method on this... so of course I turned to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
And, for better or worse, here's a sampling of the reasons I received:
Probably a good book, but I would prefer a cover without it.
That I would be embarrassed to be seen reading it in public, even though I can tell this is from Daughter of Fortune which no one should be embarrassed to be seen reading in public.
It means it is popular. Which means 50 Shades of Gray. So no.
The Secret Life Of Bees was an Oprah book and it was great
I read two if them in College, hated them, never picked up a third.
I take suggestions from others , but I read what I want, no matter what O says. If the jacket interests me I read it.
That the book's quality in relation might be arbitrary, but it is probably going to be the sort of deeply emotional read that will leave me feeling wrung out. I'll probably pass. Oprah's seal tells me that reading it will give me the sort of "feels" I should be having as a member of the female gender. Because if it's not a Lifetime (television for women) moment, it's not worth having apparently.
Someone had extra stickers ***shrug***
It's either good or schlocky, no in between and if it's good, inn going to wish I've read it before, not now that everyone else is.
To avoid fights with my husband because my books are all over the house I have been using my kindle. I never noticed if they get endorsements or not. I wouldn't care one way or another. If I wanted to read a book I would read it. What is it about Oprah? I get a lot of ideas for books to read from the World Book Club.
Unfortunately if I see it is endorsed by Oprah I immediately shy away from it. I have never had Oprah's taste in books
I immediately think they paid in some way for the endorsement whether that's true or not I have no clue but it's immediately what I think
That its for bored housewives and that I'll secretly like it, but never tell.
That it's for people who want to be serious readers but can't handle reading serious books.
I think it's going to be a rough read, most likely with someone being abused. To me it says Do Not Go There.
Based on the fact that she has put this sticker on books I've liked I find it moo.
And these responses say it all. Only a few people realized that Oprah has featured Toni Morrison, John Irving, William Faulkner... a handful of people don't care either way. But the overwhelming majority had only negative connotations when it came to that little sticker.
A few things I have to say about this little experiment:
1. Just because something is popular does not automatically make it bad. Cut off the man bun and stop being a hipster... it's not attractive.
2. Oprah actually has a pretty good track record of recommending great works. So stop writing her off because she's a pop culture icon. I don't give a crap that she wants me to drink chai tea (I hate chai tea), but the woman (or her advisors) has decent taste in literature.
3. The same goes for books that have been made into movies. Yes, that book may have a movie tie-in cover. I tend to avoid buying that particular copy too. But just because The Giver ended up being a crappy movie does not mean that only bad books are given the cinematic treatment.
4. We are still lightyears away from reading what we want to read without feeling the judgment of others. And that makes me sad. While I think 50 Shades is shit, I don't judge you for reading it. Hell, I don't even judge you for liking it. Or, at least, I try not to (I'm working on it. We're all works in progress here, people!). But the guilt we're expected to feel over the books we read... or the pride we're supposed to feel in being seen reading a classic... this shit has got to stop. Because this doesn't just happen with literature. It happens in all aspects of our lives and only leads to negativity and people not feeling comfortable in their own skin.
5. Even as someone who is seen as a "serious reader", this idea of serious readers versus casual readers is really starting to bother me. I just finished Oliver Twist, but I'm also super psyched to pick up Felicia Day's book about using her weirdness to make her an internet queen next. Why can't we just... read???
So while I never thought I'd be writing an impassioned plea to give Harpo a break, I guess that's what I'm doing.
But in reality, I'm asking us to give each other a break.
[And because I think some of us need a reminder of what an Oprah Book Club selection is, check out the complete list of the books that display that stupid little sticker)