Saturday, June 02, 2012

Oprah’s Back!

Of course, Oprah Winfrey herself was never gone, but her book club has been sadly silent for a couple of years. And mostly silent for a few years before that. Now she’s back with what she’s calling Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 and, however her readers respond, it’s a cinch that the book industry will rejoice. After all, no one has ever been able to move books quite like Oprah. As the New York Times reminds us:
Before she stopped selecting books altogether in 2010, Ms. Winfrey had picked 65 books since 1996, a mix of contemporary and classic works. For many years, a book’s selection as an Oprah-sanctioned title translated into instantly skyrocketing sales of more than a million copies, extraordinary numbers for any title.
But time has marched on since earlier incarnations of Oprah’s Book Club and, always a style setter, Oprah has marched on, as well. Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 arrives social media ready, with strong interactive elements and an e-book component.

Oprah’s first pick for 2.0 is Wild (Knopf) by Pushcart Prize-winning author Cheryl Strayed who many know best at Dear Sugar from The Rumpus.

Wild is a memoir that recollects the epic physical and emotional journey Strayed took when she was 22 and at a place in her life when she felt she had nothing to lose. On little more than an impulse, she decided to take on the 1100-mile Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. The demanding journey broke her physically but lifted her again spiritually, despite run-ins with bears, snakes and the natural perils of the trail.

“I considered my options,” Strayed writes at one point in Wild. “There were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go.”

We can guess how it all turned out, though: clearly books by quitters are unlikely to ever sport an Oprah sticker.


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