Friday, September 18, 2009

New Oprah Announcement Coming Today!

Oprah's Book Club tends to create a pretty firm dividing line between people: there are lovers and there are haters and there seem to be few to fall in between. Since 1996, Oprah has been reading and discussing books on her weekday talk show - and no matter which side of the dividing line you fall on opinionwise - it can't be denied that her influence has skyrocketed sales for a number of authors. From its beginnings as a monthly club, through the era of classics, to the current day version where titles are picked occasionally and without any particular theme in mind - Oprah's Book Club has remained popular. So popular that when news of a new title gets started circling - it doesn't take long for the buzz to become a roar.

On August 24, Oprah Tweeted: Hey all you BookClubbers. Tune in Friday, September 18th to find out whatmy new book club pick is--never made a selection like "this".

Speculation began flying about which book might be the new selection almost immediately. Fan speculation on Oprah's website spans everything from Jodi Picoult's family drama My Sister's Keeper to Dan Brown's brand new suspense thriller The Lost Symbol to Kathryn Stockett's historical first novel The Help. Those ones mostly seem like folks hoping for their recent favourite book to get some attention from Oprah, but a more scientific approach as appeared on several blogs online.

Largely requoted, The Newtonville Books Community Blog - run by a bookstore in Newton Massachusetts - reported that they had been contacted by a book rep about purchasing the new Oprah selection. The title is always guarded, but the bookseller was able to find out that the book would be published by
Little, Brown and Company and that its list price would be $14.99/$16.99 Can. Based on that info, another blogger took to the Little, Brown catalogue and put together this list of potential titles - all released in the last year and having the correct price point:

Amigoland by Oscar Casares
This Wicked World by Richard Lange
Do Over! In which a forty-eight-year-old father of three returns to kindergarten, summer camp, the prom, and other embarrassments by Robin Hemley
The Man's Book: The Essential Guide for the Modern Man by Thomas Fink
Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn
Eat, Drink and Be From Mississippi by Nanci Kincaid
The Book of Calamities: Five Questions About Suffering and Its Meaning by Peter Trachtenberg
The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton
Undiscovered Country by Lin Enger
Say You're One of them by Uwem Akpan

I, for one, am pulling for This Wicked World by Richard Lange, based purely on a punctuation pet peeve of mine - the misuse of
quotation marks for emphasis. As a Noir Mystery it would certainly be a bit of a stretch compared to previous Oprah picks - but it's the only book from the proposed list that has the word this in the title and - looking back to Oprah's tweet - that's what the quotation marks around the word this should indicate.

Searching the blogsphere it seems Say You're One of Them is the heavy favourite in public opinion: short stories would be a change for Oprah (as her Tweet implied) and the focus on the lives of impoverished children in Africa is certainly one that Oprah would want to highlight. Plus the book has been receiving rave reviews. It seems a logical next choice in terms of the pattern of Oprah selections. Hmmm - and quotation marks can be used to express irony, so maybe that's what Oprah meant by using in her original tweet. I can always hope.

Oh speculation - so much fun. We'll know for sure by Friday afternoon.

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