Reading with Oprah


The Book Club that Changed America
Second Edition
Kathleen Rooney
978-1-55728-873-8 (paper)
April 2008


Add to Cart


Adored by its fans, deplored by its critics, Oprah’s Book Club has been at the center of arguments about cultural authority and literary taste since it began in 1996. Reading with Oprah explores the club’s revolutionary fusion of books, television, and commerce and tells the engaging and in-depth story of the OBC phenomenon.

Kathleen Rooney combines extensive research with a dynamic voice to reveal the club’s far-reaching cultural impact and its role as crucible for the clash between “high” and “low” literary taste.

Comprehensive and up-to-date, the book covers the club from its inception in 1996, through the Jonathan Franzen contretemps, the surprising suspension in 2002, and, after the club’s return in 2003, the progression from “great books” to memoir. New material includes an extensive look at the James Frey scandal and Oprah’s turn to contemporary fiction, including The Road and Middlesex.

Through close examination of Winfrey’s picks and personal interviews with book club authors and readers, Rooney demonstrates how the club that Barbara Kingsolver calls “one of the best possible uses of a television set” has, according to Wally Lamb, “gotten people of all ages to read, to read more, and to read widely.”

First edition published in 2005.

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and the author of the upcoming University of Arkansas Press title Live Nude Girl. She has cowritten the collaborative poetry collections Something Really Wonderful and That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness with Elisa Gabbert. Her poems and essays have appeared in many publications, including the Nation, Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review, and Another Chicago Magazine. She lives in Chicago.

“Lively . . . accurately captures the cultural unrest surrounding the Oprah book club and raises numerous thoughtful points about its significance.”
Publishers Weekly

“This is a highly readable book.”
Library Journal

“Highly recommended.”
Choice Magazine