After 25 years on the air, Oprah's farewell season began this week and on Friday, September 17, the media mogul will announce her final Book Club selection.
Rumors are of course circulating everywhere: Will she pick Nelson Mandela's 'Conversations With Myself'?
Will she forgive Jonathan Franzen's snub when he expressed discomfort at her invitation over 'The Corrections' nine years ago and make his new bestseller, 'Freedom,' the final book club choice? The New York Post thinks so.
We're on pins and needles awaiting word.
Oprah's Book Club, a venerable institution itself, has catapulted authors to stardom and brought attention to horrifying scandals. From Jonathan Franzen to James Frey, from Toni Morrison to Leo Tolstoy, the club has included authors across eras, genres and of many different stripes.
In 2008, Time Magazine wrote:
"The all-powerful Oprah Book Club is not so much a club as a ruthlessly influential marketing vehicle, with the power to fundamentally alter best-seller lists, Amazon rankings and royalty payments."
Overall, there have been 65 books admitted to the club, and the book club has had an interesting history. In preparation for Friday's episode, we've gathered and analyzed information to present the "7 Things You Need To Know Before Friday's Pick":
James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" was a fantastic fictional story about addiction and redemption. Too bad Frey pretended it was real. Oprah made millions for Frey, selecting his book in September of 2005. Four months later, following The Smoking Gun's report that the book was a hoax, Frey was back on Oprah's show -- but not as a guest. Instead, she interrogated him, making him admit that he lied and forcing him to reveal which parts of the book were untrue -- including the detail that his girlfriend didn't actually kill herself. "I feel that you betrayed millions of readers," Winfrey said to Frey. Read a transcript of the interview here.
Getting selected into Oprah's Book Club has become the most golden of geese for literary commercial success, surpassing more traditional accolades such as a cover story from "The New York Times" Book Review and even long-respected literary prizes. In 2004, the edition of "Anna Karenina" that Oprah selected immediately increased its print run by 800,000 -- when it was originally projected to sell 20,000 copies a year. Similarly, John Steinbeck's "East Of Eden," a 50-year-old novel at the time of Oprah's selection, shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and held onto the spot for two months.
In 2007, Oprah selected Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," which has since become one of the best-known books of the 21st century. But the book's train to immortality got off to a bumpy start. To go along with the selection of "The Road," it was announced that the famously reclusive McCarthy would be sitting down for his first-ever television interview. Millions were excited, until they saw the interview. McCarthy never looked comfortable in the interview, and the gaps between dud questions ("How do you feel about millions of people reading your books?") were filled with agonizing silences. It's difficult to tell which of the two participants wanted it to end more.
Which author has been picked more than any other? That would be Toni Morrison, who has four books in Oprah's Club. Morrison's novels "Song Of Solomon," "Paradise," "The Bluest Eye," and "Sula" have all been given the Oprah seal of approval, one ahead of Bill Cosby and William Faulkner, each of whom has three books in the Club. Other repeat authors include Wally Lamb, Kaye Gibbons, Jane Hamilton, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, all of whom have two Book Club selections.
In 2001, following Oprah's selection of his novel, "The Corrections," Jonathan Franzen made some insensitive or some misrepresented comments, depending on your perspective. Franzen seemed conflicted about being selected into the Book Club, saying she "picked some good books, but she's picked enough schmaltzy, one-dimensional ones that I cringe." Regardless, a firestorm erupted with people calling him everything from an elitist to a misogynist. Today, Franzen maintains that he wasn't trying to be ungracious, stating that "having been approached I was being obedient to the extent that I could manage it," and, "I wish I'd reached out more towards her." He even thanked Oprah in his acceptance speech for the National Book Award. Franzen remains the only Oprah guest to have been uninvited.
Getting an Oprah Book Club seal makes a book a bestseller. But a number of Book Club picks have gone on to become movies as well, using sales largely affected by her approval as a springboard to being made. "The Deep End Of The Ocean," "Where The Heart Is," "The Reader," "White Oleander," "House Of Sand And Fog," and "The Road" have all been made into feature films. A number of her other picks have been adapted for TV.
Female Authors Selected: 31 Male Authors Selected: 24 Deceased Authors Selected: 6 Nonfiction Selections: 5 (including "A Million Little Pieces")