Oprah and Her Bad Advice for Book Club

Originally published June 2013

God, how I love/hate Oprah.

I love love love that she single-handedly saved the publishing industry with her book clubs, right? And she’s a doll to offer up some pretty kick-ass book club reading. (I’m being for real, here. Loved “Wild” and “Hattie” was depressing, but beautifully written.) So there’s nothing like waking up to check my email before 6 a.m. (my most productive work hour of the day) to have a love note from O in my inbox, telling me what I shouldn’t say at my next book club meeting. It only confirms I have no business ever attending one.

Let’s break down her latest directive …

Never ask right off the bat, who liked the book and who didn’t. Oprah insists this immediately divides your group, and if you wait long enough, this will happen naturally. Hell to the no, I say. I want to know at Minute 1 of the book club meeting who’s on my side. These are my peeps, and the ones I will band together with to sarcastically mock those with the clearly wrong opinion.

Don’t make excuses for not finishing the book—it’s OK just to come for the friendship. Listen girly, if I slogged through all 12 depressing chapters of “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie,”for book club so can you. At least try to fake it—in fact, make it a game and the worst faker has to bring the booze for the next meeting.

Avoid passing judgement on characters’ choices, i.e., “I would never put up with a man who …” Please. This is the reason we read—so we can call out bullshit and pretend for even just five minutes that we are morally superior to a literary skanky skanky ho. It’s so much easier to go apeshit on a fictional character than someone in real life. Free therapy. dude.

Don’t criticize the book choice, i.e., “Who picked this book?” If you picked it, OWN it. If your book club can’t get behind your love for Jodi Picoult, James Patterson, Debbie Macomber or the dude who wrote “The Notebook,” who needs ’em? You may need a new book club when the meeting is over, but you’ll find it. Jodi Picoult fans are about as fanatical as Taylor Swift groupies.

Don’t play stupid, i.e., “This is over my my head” when you really just are afraid of having a contrary opinion. Err … what if you’re not playing stupid, O? Maybe this is when we just go back to faking it. I loves me some literary gamesmanship.

Asking about the wine. Actually, Oprah says this is OK. So she gets one right. Keep fighting the good fight for all us book lovers, O.

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