It's funny. When I told my co-workers at my day job that I finally got a book contract, besides the enthusiastic support and congratulations, the second thing out of their mouths was, "Maybe it will be an Oprah pick!"
Sadly, I had to shake my head. "No," I told them. "It isn't the kind of book Oprah Winfrey likes to promote." But it is funny that Oprah's choices--or at least the idea of them--have crept into the popular culture about what makes a good book. Almost a replacement for the bestseller list.
It would be nice if the popular media was more into books. I know when Oprah's picks were big that some of the news outlets got on the bandwagon, usually to promote summer reading. I suppose summer is the time for lying in hammocks with the luxury to read all day. For most of us, we get in our reading when we can, usually in bed before lights out. That is, if we aren't too tired or Jon Stewart is a rerun.
In last week's New York Times Book Review (one media outlet that many people still rely on to chose their next reading venture), Jeffrey Eugenides, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book Middlesex, commented on the happy association of becoming an Oprah pick.
Not all are happy to be picks. There of course was the brouhaha about Jonathan Franzen as an Oprah Book Club pick. From a USA TODAY article: "While most authors are grateful to Oprah, the 42-year-old Franzen said that he felt "uncomfortable," that he didn't want a "logo of corporate ownership" on his book jacket. Winfrey, in turn, disinvited Franzen from her show and canceled discussion of the book."
Then, of course, there was the James Frey pick of A Million Little Lies...er Pieces. After Winfrey discovered his nonfiction wasn't quite as non as we all thought it was, she brought the author back to the show for an old-fashioned ass wuppin'.
Eugenides takes a different view, citing the company he is keeping with his Book Club predecessors such as Cormac McCarthy and Leo Tolstoy. "You don't want to be a member of a club that has Faulkner as a member?" he quipped. Well hell yes!
So though my novels aren't literary fiction and are never likely to be an Oprah Book Club pick, I can still daydream. After all, I guess I'll get my own little book club following from all those nice people at work. Here's hoping.