Oprah and Tolstoy

I will admit that I am not a fan of Oprah. I think her show is all too often emotionalism or psychobable dressed up as serious discussion. But I have to admit I am having a hard time seeing a downside to ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy as the Summer Selection of Oprah’s Book Club.

I will admit that I haven’t read the book myself but a friend sites it as her favorite book so perhaps Oprah will goad me into reading it. I missed the whole Franzen/Oprah deal so what does the literary blogosphere think of the Oprah book club? How many people will read Tolstoy who would normally not go near his work thanks to Oprah? I would be interested to hear what others think.

Hat tip: Moorish Girl

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).


  1. Anna Karenina is a wonderful book. You mentioning that you had not read it reminds me of the young girl in Kundera’s “Unbearable Lightness of Being” carrying around a copy of Tolstoy just to impress a man.

    I’m not much of an Oprah fan either, but you have to admit her reading selection is impressive…East of Eden, 100 years of Solitude and now this. People will not shy away from this classic just because it is on Oprah’s list, in fact I bet sales will skyrocket because of it.

  2. Having been a former fan of Oprah’s show (1997 – 2000), I have to admit…when she started the book club, it got me reading again. I had been an avid reader as child/adolescent, but for some reason I just “stopped.” Watching her “group” discussions on TV provoked me to go out and buy the books. I have added quite a few to my collection: Stones from the River (Ursula Hegi), A Lesson Before Dying (Ernest J. Gaines), Songs in Ordinary Time (Mary McGarry Morris), and The Reader (Bernhard Schlink) to name a few.

  3. Though I’m pretty much against anything Oprah, I must grudgingly admit that the book club is a good thing, especially now that she has people reading classics. The sad thing is, of course, that people glued to the tv need someone on the tv to say, ‘let’s read!’ in order for them (the viewers) to pick up a book.
    As for the Franzen book, I picked it up, trudged through about half of it, and tossed it under my bed never to be found again…It was overrated and I got the impression that Franzen was extrememly proud of his own prose. The book was kind of like Kill Bill Vol. 2: the gist of the story could have been told in a third of the time, but tarantino thinks everyone out there wants to hear everythihng he has to say and he actually seems to fancy himself as a good writer.
    but that’s just my opinion…

  4. If Oprah ordains it, it shall be done.

    We, the faithful of her inner circle, who model our lives after her teachings, will tackle this Tolstoy book with joyful abandon. Nay, we will learn Russian and read it in its untranslated form to demonstrate our superior devotion to the One True O.

    Harpo si drol!

  5. Anna K may be the best novel ever written. It just slightly nudges War and Peace aside. Tolstoy is simply the best novelist I’ve ever read.

    He is to fiction what Shakespeare is to playwriting.

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