Oprah resurrects book club with Steinbeck classic "East of Eden"
Wednesday, June 18th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
CHICAGO (AP) _ Oprah Winfrey resurrected her book club Wednesday by recommending her viewers read John Steinbeck's ``East of Eden'' _ a move that could put the novel on best seller lists more than 50 years after its publication.
Winfrey discontinued her book club last year, saying she did not have enough time to keep up with monthly selections. But she decided to relaunch it with a focus on the classics.
She said ``East of Eden'' might be the best novel she had ever read.
``It's the perfect book for the summer, I guarantee it,'' said Winfrey, who read the book last summer. ``It's a saga. You will not be able to turn the pages fast enough.''
Steinbeck is more famous for ``The Grapes of Wrath,'' but Winfrey said she thinks this novel, published in 1952, might be even better. Steinbeck died in 1968.
``East of Eden'' tells the story of three generations of two families, from the Civil War to World War I. Steinbeck called it ``a sort of autobiography of the Salinas Valley'' in California. When the book was published, it was a best seller.
The revived book club is good news for the publishing industry. In the past, Winfrey's selection has guaranteed hundreds of thousands in sales.
The TV talk show host is expected to make three to five classic selections a year.
Winfrey started the book club in 1996, with Jacquelyn Mitchard's ``The Deep End of the Ocean'' as her first pick. The book was released with a printing of 100,000, but within a week of Winfrey's announcement 640,000 copies were in print and the book moved up to No. 1 on the fiction best seller lists of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Winfrey made 46 picks before her final selection in April 2002: Toni Morrison's ``Sula.''
Others television shows, including ``Today'' and ``Good Morning America,'' have launched their own clubs since Winfrey discontinued hers, but none has had the impact of Winfrey's.