Oprah’s Book Club Cracks the Whip

by Liz Colville

First Oprah asked Americans to read former foe Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, a 2010 critics’ pick as well as a sprawling monstrosity of paper and words, and now, a day after she and Franzen praised Dickens during Franzen’s Oprah appearance, Winfrey has chosen TWO Charles Dickens books for her holiday reading selection.

Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities are the picks, and part of the reason, Oprah admits, is that she’s never read any Dickens. So these choices, usually assigned in high school, make sense, but I can hear women (and men, and men) across America going, “MAN this is starting to feel like SCHOOL.” Those millions would surely, being mostly grownups, enjoy just cutting straight to David Copperfield and Bleak House.

But conveniently, Penguin has published Oprah’s two picks in a single, snazzy-looking 800-page volume (pictured), which Oprah herself purchased, and then there are e-books. Then there are free Kindle e-books! (Amazon is offering both titles for free.) So the last existing excuses for not reading Dickens in the world — “I’m allergic to paper” and “The painting of old farts on this cover makes me want to fall asleep” and “I have no money” — are no longer valid. You will read Dickens, goddammit, and the fact that Oprah chooses books so very infrequently should make this sort of easy. [Via]