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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 8 artifacts, but rather as practical resources for helping them cope psychologically with the day-to-day and sometimes humdrum routines associated with raising children – young ones, in particular. Books and book reading were routinely discussed, then, as a means for mothers to resist the sometimes overwhelming demands they felt relative to their responsibilities at home. Recently, Winfrey offered a list of “ways you moms can rescue some reading time.” “In lieu of gifts,” she suggested, “ask your spouse and older children for reading time” (Letters to Oprah’s book club, 2001, n. p.). Her advice resonated with Karen, a regular participant in Oprah’s Book Club who was interviewed on the show. Karen first shared how and when she became interested in the Club: I’m a full time mom now, but when I started I had a business, and it’s something I – after I graduated college, I felt I didn’t have time, and when you [Winfrey] started with The Deep End of the Ocean, I thought, “Mm, I can do this, I can read this book. Check it out.” I was 38 years old, and I was addicted. I could be the poster child for your Book Club at this point. I’ve read over . . . 400 books since you’ve been – started your Book Club. (Letters to Oprah’s book club, 2001, n. p.) She then added: “My children now are trained that when they see Mom with a book, they just don’t bother me. . . . And on Saturday and Sunday mornings, my husband knows I’m going to get up early at five to read, fall back to sleep, and wake up again and read some more, fall ba [sic] – I get up about 1:00 in the afternoon to start my day, because I love to just lay there and read” (Letters to Oprah’s book club,” 2001, n. p.). For Karen, Oprah Book Club selections and other books helped her to construct imagined – albeit effective – spatial and temporal barriers with which she modulated her heterosexual partnership and the demands placed on her by her children (c.f.: Radway, 1984, pp. 14, 86, 213). Clearly, some women found in Oprah’s Book Club both psychological and “practical” resources to resist the overwhelming demands placed on them as partners, mothers, and professionals. Still, the extraordinary success and visibility of Oprah’s Book Club cannot be reduced to that aspect of the Club alone. While many women featured on Oprah’s Book Club attributed their inability to read

Authors: Striphas, Theodore.
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Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club 8
artifacts, but rather as practical resources for helping them cope psychologically with the day-to-day
and sometimes humdrum routines associated with raising children – young ones, in particular.
Books and book reading were routinely discussed, then, as a means for mothers to resist the
sometimes overwhelming demands they felt relative to their responsibilities at home. Recently,
Winfrey offered a list of “ways you moms can rescue some reading time.” “In lieu of gifts,” she
suggested, “ask your spouse and older children for reading time” (Letters to Oprah’s book club, 2001,
n. p.). Her advice resonated with Karen, a regular participant in Oprah’s Book Club who was
interviewed on the show. Karen first shared how and when she became interested in the Club:
I’m a full time mom now, but when I started I had a business, and it’s something I –
after I graduated college, I felt I didn’t have time, and when you [Winfrey] started
with The Deep End of the Ocean, I thought, “Mm, I can do this, I can read this book.
Check it out.” I was 38 years old, and I was addicted. I could be the poster child for
your Book Club at this point. I’ve read over . . . 400 books since you’ve been –
started your Book Club. (Letters to Oprah’s book club, 2001, n. p.)
She then added: “My children now are trained that when they see Mom with a book, they just don’t
bother me. . . . And on Saturday and Sunday mornings, my husband knows I’m going to get up early
at five to read, fall back to sleep, and wake up again and read some more, fall ba [sic] – I get up about
1:00 in the afternoon to start my day, because I love to just lay there and read” (Letters to Oprah’s
book club,” 2001, n. p.). For Karen, Oprah Book Club selections and other books helped her to
construct imagined – albeit effective – spatial and temporal barriers with which she modulated her
heterosexual partnership and the demands placed on her by her children (c.f.: Radway, 1984, pp. 14,
86, 213).
Clearly, some women found in Oprah’s Book Club both psychological and “practical”
resources to resist the overwhelming demands placed on them as partners, mothers, and professionals.
Still, the extraordinary success and visibility of Oprah’s Book Club cannot be reduced to that aspect of
the Club alone. While many women featured on Oprah’s Book Club attributed their inability to read


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