NEW YORK, March 14 (AP) For her 100th book club pick, Oprah Winfrey relied on the same instinct she’s drawn from the beginning: Did the story move her? Will she think about it in a few days? In a work of fiction, are the characters real to her?
“When I’m not moving on, that’s always a sign to me that there’s something powerful and moving,” Winfrey told The Associated Press in a recent phone interview.
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On Tuesday, she announced that she had chosen Ann Napolitano’s “Hello Beautiful,” a revival of the bestselling “Dear Edward” author’s “Little Women.” A modern tribute to Little Women. The novel, published Tuesday by Penguin Random House-owned Dial Press, Winfrey credits its themes of family, resilience and perspective with giving “Hello Beautiful” a “universal appeal” that makes it an appropriate milestone.
Winfrey’s pick no longer ensures blockbuster sales, but it still retains a special place in the industry; for writers, a call from Winfrey still feels like being told they’ve won an Oscar. Winfrey told The Associated Press that she was “in awe” of the club and its history, and that “it was the idea” that someone might go and buy a copy of “Anna Karenina” or a copy just because of her advice. Little known book.
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“She’s the queen,” says Jenna Bush Hager, who hosts the popular “Read With Jenna” club on NBC’s “Today” show. “I remember being a high school student taking AP English and reading (David Gutson’s) Snow Falling on Cedars because I walked into the local bookstore and saw Oprah recommending took this book.”
Winfrey is now promoting Barbara Kingsolver and her novel “Demon Copperhead,” said Kristen McLean, an analyst with NPD Books who tracks industry sales. Copperhead was particularly effective in outselling her two previous novels.
Since 1996, Winfrey’s book choices have launched her on a remarkable journey of influence and success, frequent reinvention and occasional controversy. It has lived through Winfrey and the transformation of the publishing industry, through the rise of the Internet and the end of Winfrey’s syndicated talk show, through the immersion of the canon and unexpected lessons in the reliability of memoir and the lack of diversity in book publishing.
Thanks to Winfrey, contemporary writers like Jacquelyn Mitchard and Jane Hamilton found audiences they never expected, and from Anna Karenina Karenina to As I Lay Dying, a selection of works published decades and centuries ago topped the bestseller lists. Winfrey didn’t invent the mass-market book club, but she proved that spontaneous enthusiasm can inspire people through the most sophisticated marketing campaigns.
The reason why her most troublesome choices — James Frey’s fabricated memoir “A Million Little Pieces,” Jenny Cummins’s “American Dirt,” a novel criticized for its stereotypical portrayal of Mexicans — became so many The news, in part, is the Winfrey endorsement’s spotlight.
The club started as an extension of a conversation she had with then-producer Alice McGee. They would talk about their favorite books until, in 1996, McGee finally suggested that Winfrey share the experience with her audience. Top pick, Michard’s “In the Depths of the Sea” has sold over 2 million copies. Other books also became major bestsellers, whether it was Joyce Carol Oates (“We Were the Mulvaneys”) and Toni Morrison (“The Bluest Eyes”), as well as up-and-coming writers of the day, such as Janet Fitch and Tawni O’Dell.
The club was so successful that some suspected a trap. Winfrey remembers Quincy Jones asking her, “How much did they pay for that book club, baby?” The process was so informal that Winfrey didn’t even bother to go through a middleman at first.
“I’d call Wally Lamb,” she said of her fourth choice, the author of “She’s Come Undone.” “In the early stages, I would finish the book, and then find the author. When you flip to the back of the book, it will give you a biography of the author, and it will tell you the city where the author lives. And, this is where we have the phone When I went to the book, in every instance, I got the author’s phone number because the author was on the list.”
Winfrey’s system is only slightly more structured now. Leigh Newman, director of books for the online/print publication The Oprah Daily, will call the publisher first to arrange a “surprise call” with the author and Oprah. Winfrey staff will research the author’s background to ensure that nothing arises – whether criminal charges or allegations of plagiarism. Winfrey, who said the scrutiny began after “a million little pieces” proved to be a mass of lies, sparked an extraordinary public outcry when she brought Frey back on her show to explain herself scold. (They have reconciled).
“I’m very personal,” she said. “I probably shouldn’t take this so personally, but I feel like he’s let me down and I’ve let the audience down. … I’m the one who said, can you believe this is a real Stories? And yelling from rooftops. I think it’s stupid to do that, it’s embarrassing to do that.”
Winfrey’s book selection remains internal and private — largely determined by herself and Newman — though Winfrey says she’s grateful for the “Hello Beautiful” recommended to her by Creative Arts Agency president Richard Lovett. ” made a rare exception. Otherwise, Newman will look for books she thinks Winfrey might respond to—fiction or nonfiction, as long as the story is “compelling,” Newman explained. Winfrey also finds books herself.
The club didn’t follow a real formula. For the first few years, Winfrey averaged one pick almost every month, a pace she found exhausting. She suspended clubs for most of 2002-2003, concentrating on older productions in 2004-2005, and picking just one or two titles in other years. After her talk show ended in 2011, she launched Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 the following year, with a focus on digital media.
Her current goal is to publish a new book every eight weeks, presenting author interviews and interactive reader discussions on OprahDaily.com. Winfrey has no plans to stop and no specific selection goals. After her early 2020 selection of “American Dirt,” she vowed to “reach more Latin books.” But she has since picked no one for her club and has made no commitments for the future.
“I would never choose a book because the author was Hispanic or Black or Indian. I would not be put in that box,” she said. “This book has to exist on many different levels for me. That doesn’t mean there aren’t great books by authors of every race and creed. It means I haven’t seen one (for the club). But we noticed it, and I’ve been close to it a few times.”
Winfrey’s choices are sometimes influenced by a relatively new trend: competition.
In the past few years, whether it’s Witherspoon’s early promotion of Delia Owens’ blockbuster “Where the Lobster Sings” or Hagrid’s support for debut films such as Katie Hayes, Hagrid and Reese Wayne Suspen have both proved that they too can command the trust of a large readership’ novel The Abbey. The enthusiasm of young people on TikTok has made Colleen Hoover the most popular fiction author in the country.
Winfrey is respectful: If she hears that a book she might pick is also being pursued by Witherspoon or Hagrid, she takes a step back and picks another. But she also claimed her place. Yes, Witherspoon, Hager, and the BookTok kids are all great, but no one should forget who came first.
“We started this conversation,” she said. “I’m very, very proud of that.” (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)