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A Dialectic With the Everyday: Communication & Cultural Politics on Oprah Winfrey's Book Club
Unformatted Document Text:  Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club 6 enough to read.” Winfrey then went on to admonish her audience to “take your time with it. Read one of the . . . chapters, come back, let that settle in with yourself, come back and read another chapter” (Oprah’s book club, 2000, June 23, p. 17). She concluded the day’s broadcast by reiterating that The Poisonwood Bible was a “great, great, great book for the summer, 546 pages” (Oprah’s book club, 2000, June 23, p. 18). Winfrey framed other selections almost identically. At the beginning of a June 1997 broadcast, in which she announced the selection of Mary McGarry Morris’ Songs in Ordinary Time, Winfrey stated: “Today we’re announcing a big – I mean B-I-G book” (Book club finale, 1997, p. 1). Later, when she revealed the selection, she explained: I knew back last year when we first started this Book Club that this was the book that you should be reading for the summer, because it is 740 pages long. Now for a lot of you, that’s – that’ll be you first time with a book that big – a big accomplishment, OK? So our big book for the summer is Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris – Songs in Ordinary Time. (Book club finale, 1997, p. 17) Winfrey employed virtually the same language to frame the June 1998 selection, Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True – “a great, big book for the summer,” she called it, at 897 pages (Oprah’s book club, 1998, June 18, pp. 17-22). Jane Hamilton’s The Book of Ruth, in contrast, appears to have been selected in December 1996 in part because of its brevity. “You have two months to finish” The Book of Ruth, Winfrey indicated. “You have a long time, and it’s not even a whole lot of pages. . . . [I]t’s only 328 pages in paperback.” She continued her address by hinting at the significance of The Book of Ruth’s length: “The next Book Club airs Wednesday, January 22nd of next year, 1997. We gave you extra time over the holidays so you don’t have to read at the Christmas table, OK” (Behind the scenes at Oprah’s dinner party, 1996, pp. 20-21)? The language Winfrey used to frame every one of these books on Oprah suggests that her selections for the Club were not made on the basis of her idiosyncratic tastes alone. That she repeatedly referred to specific selections as “summer books,” holiday books, and so forth indicates

Authors: Striphas, Theodore.
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Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club 6
enough to read.” Winfrey then went on to admonish her audience to “take your time with it. Read
one of the . . . chapters, come back, let that settle in with yourself, come back and read another
chapter” (Oprah’s book club, 2000, June 23, p. 17). She concluded the day’s broadcast by reiterating
that The Poisonwood Bible was a “great, great, great book for the summer, 546 pages” (Oprah’s book
club, 2000, June 23, p. 18).
Winfrey framed other selections almost identically. At the beginning of a June 1997
broadcast, in which she announced the selection of Mary McGarry Morris’ Songs in Ordinary Time,
Winfrey stated: “Today we’re announcing a big – I mean B-I-G book” (Book club finale, 1997, p. 1).
Later, when she revealed the selection, she explained:
I knew back last year when we first started this Book Club that this was the book that
you should be reading for the summer, because it is 740 pages long. Now for a lot of
you, that’s – that’ll be you first time with a book that big – a big accomplishment,
OK? So our big book for the summer is Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry
Morris – Songs in Ordinary Time. (Book club finale, 1997, p. 17)
Winfrey employed virtually the same language to frame the June 1998 selection, Wally Lamb’s I
Know This Much Is True – “a great, big book for the summer,” she called it, at 897 pages (Oprah’s
book club, 1998, June 18, pp. 17-22). Jane Hamilton’s The Book of Ruth, in contrast, appears to have
been selected in December 1996 in part because of its brevity. “You have two months to finish” The
Book of Ruth, Winfrey indicated. “You have a long time, and it’s not even a whole lot of pages. . . .
[I]t’s only 328 pages in paperback.” She continued her address by hinting at the significance of The
Book of Ruth’s length: “The next Book Club airs Wednesday, January 22nd of next year, 1997. We
gave you extra time over the holidays so you don’t have to read at the Christmas table, OK” (Behind
the scenes at Oprah’s dinner party, 1996, pp. 20-21)?
The language Winfrey used to frame every one of these books on Oprah suggests that her
selections for the Club were not made on the basis of her idiosyncratic tastes alone. That she
repeatedly referred to specific selections as “summer books,” holiday books, and so forth indicates


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