Oprah Expanding Club's Horizons

Oprah Winfrey, talk show host and actress, 2005/5/15 AP

After two years of celebrating classic novels in her TV book club, talk show host Oprah Winfrey has decided to welcome back the present.

Her latest book club pick, announced Thursday on her television show, is "A Million Little Pieces," James Frey's graphic memoir of substance abuse. It marks two departures from Winfrey's recent choices: It's a contemporary book, and a work of nonfiction.

"I've decided I will open the door to all books as potential Oprah's Book Club selections," she said Thursday. "I feel this will give the book club a whole new range of opportunities to explore the world through words."

Frey's book was first released in 2003 and paperback publisher Anchor Books has commissioned a new printing of 600,000. "A Million Little Pieces" was No. 1 on Internet retailer Amazon.com as of Thursday night.

Three years ago, Winfrey announced she was cutting back on book club picks, saying it had "become harder and harder to find books on a monthly basis that I feel absolutely compelled to share."

Since 2003, Winfrey has recommended "classics," including John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" and Pearl Buck's "The Good Earth." She recently completed a "Summer of Faulkner," picking a trio of novels by the Southern writer.

Last spring, more than 100 writers, including Pulitzer Prize winners Jane Smiley and Jhumpa Lahiri, wrote an open letter to Winfrey that urged her to "consider focusing, once again, on contemporary writers" and suggested that her abandonment of newer works was hurting sales.
  • John Esterbrook

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