Reading Oprah

How Oprah's Book Club Changed the Way America Reads

By Cecilia Konchar Farr

Subjects: Popular Culture, Cultural Studies, American Studies, Literature
Paperback : 9780791462584, 178 pages, November 2004
Hardcover : 9780791462577, 178 pages, November 2004

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Table of contents

Foreword: Elizabeth Long


Introduction: Oprah's Reading Revolution

1. Reading Oprah


The Book Club Begins
To Enlighten and Entertain
The Oprah Effect
The Oprah Writers
Oprah's Choices
What Women Want


2. Oprah Reading


The Talking Book
The Way West
The Middlebrow Novel
The Middlebrow Book Club
Reading Lessons


Deep End of the Ocean
Song of Solomon


Talk Reading


Song of Solomon


3. Readers Talking


Group Reading
The Talking Life


Black and Blue
Open House


Oprah's American Story
The Elegant Balance


The Bluest Eye


4. Talking Readers


The Corrections
Claiming Cultural Capital
Learning to Read
The List
Reading for Class
Shifting Standards
Anticipatory Marketing


Conclusion: The Triumph of Cultural Democracy


Cultural Democracy


White Oleander




Works Cited


An analysis of how Oprah's Book Club has changed America's reading habits.


Oprah's Book Club sparked a revolution among readers by bringing serious contemporary novels to the attention of a wider audience. The Oprah's Book Club seal on a book led to instant fame and bestseller status for authors—but, how did Oprah change the way America reads and values books? Reading Oprah suggests that Oprah initiated an all-important mantra—trust readers. Not only did the public start reading accessible novels, but they also would snatch up formidable titles and read them with a growing confidence and skill. Then, they would talk about them, giving them a life beyond the reader and text.

Cecilia Konchar Farr is Professor of English and Women's Studies and Chair of the English Department at the College of St. Catherine.