Friday, July 12, 2013

Librarians' Line-Up: Oprah Books

After having a discussion with one of my coworkers about Oprah books, we decided our group needed to talk about them on here. There is a bit of a stigma with these books: some people read them all, and others won't touch them once that O sticker goes on. Here are some of our favorites (plus opinions):

I look at the list of “Oprah books” and I’m like…not my cup of tea. But the editors at O Magazine and I get along much better. The magazine’s editors picked a list of the best books of 2012. On it was one of my favorites: The Fault in our Stars by John Green, which we have talked about on the blog before. Just grab the tissues before you start because you won’t want to put the book down, but you’ll need the tissues. I spent days after reading this book thinking about the characters.
~Amy W.

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Is there an Oprah book more notorious than James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces?he whole situation surrounding it makes it my top Oprah pick. It’s a perfectly adequate work of fiction, but Frey went on Oprah’s show claiming his work as being a 100% truthful account of his time as an alcoholic, drug addict, and criminal. Then, a few months later, The Smoking Gunpublished an article detailing all of the so-called “facts” in his “memoir” that were actually pure fabrication. If that wasn’t bad enough, Oprah invited Frey back on to her show to essentially call him out as a liar in one of the most cringe-worthy interviews of all time. Honestly, it takes a lot of guts to punk Oprah, so it’s worth a read.
~Meredith T.

Room by Emma Donoghue

When I took over running the library’s 20s-30s book club, the very first book I read with them was Room by Emma Donoghue. I would never have read this book without the book club and I would have been missing out. Jack is five and he has never been outside of the Room in which he and his Ma have been confined. Ma tries to keep Jack busy, educated about a world he has never seen, and away from the bad man holding them. Ma wants to escape, but Jack is scared to leave the Room and its contents – all that he has ever known. I found the beginning of this book disturbing; it gave me a perspective on a life I hope no one ever has to endure. The end of the book is hopeful. The entirely of the book will stick with you for years to come.
~Mary P

There aren’t many books on Oprah’s list that I’ve read. Thus my selection was limited, but one of her book club books was so powerful that, even though it was not a favorite book of mine, it’s one I think is important. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is about a father and son making their way to the coast in a post-apocalyptic North America. It's about a father doing the best for a son who is an alien in a world that no longer exists. I didn’t want to read this book, but found it hard to put down once I started. The writing is brilliant: simple, yet surreal. Although not much changes throughout the book, you're always on the edge of your seat waiting to see what will happen. The tone is devastating and haunting. I finished this book and threw it across my room. I felt anxious, frustrated, and depressed. I couldn't concentrate on anything and had to call a friend and talk out my problems before I felt able to move on with my life. When asked if I liked it, I didn't know what to say. It was difficult to read because of the depressing content, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how amazing it was. If a book can elicit that kind of emotional reaction, it is something really special. 
~Kristin M.  

Where the Heart is by Billie Letts
I think I have read my fair share of Oprah books, generally because they tend to be the bestsellers, and I guess I read a good deal of those. I also like to look at the recommendations in her magazine, because usually there are some good finds. One of my favorites is also one of the first Oprah books I read: Where the Heart is by Billie Letts. Admittedly, I read this book because of the Natalie Portman movie. I really did enjoy the book though. The characters Letts created were memorable and lovable, especially Sister Husband. The book went into a lot more detail (as they always do) than the movie did, so I liked knowing more about the characters. I still love the sensationalism of the "Wal-Mart baby" as well.
Although I respect Oprah’s picks, I tend to avoid the craze she creates and not read any of her picks. That being said, I chose to read White Oleander and She’s Come Undone years after, and enjoyed both thoroughly. They’re both heavy but beautiful, with lyrical prose and certainly enough to talk about at a book group.
~Amanda D.
And what about you? What Oprah books have you loved/hated? Do you read them or not?

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