Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who's Your Oprah?


Oprah Winfrey has a lot of influence. When she chooses a book for her bookclub, it's like instant gold for the author. When she embraces a product or technology, it raises the status of it, increases the sales. To many people she is a voice of authority.

Yesterday, Julie posted her review for Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, a book I've had in my to be read pile since Andrew Peterson mentioned it. Andrew Peterson is a little bit like my Oprah. When he says something is good...books or music or movies, I know I have to try it out. I think because I love so much the art he creates, I think his influences must be wonderful as well. And I usually do enjoy them.

I'm guessing a good number of you reading this have never even heard of Andrew Peterson, which just goes to show that sometimes influence is deepest when it's not the biggest name.

But it got me to thinking...who is everyone else's Oprah? Who, when they stamp their seal of approval on something, do you listen to? An author? An artist? A blogger, perhaps? I'd love to know!!

So go for it! Tell us who your Oprah is! And if you don't have one...who comes the closest?




Amy

20 comments:

Beth Kephart said...

Now this is a very very very good question.

Typically, with an established author, I go strictly on my experience with a previous book.

For a brand new author, I try to read at least five reviews and to find a small excerpt, so that I can discover more about how the book sounds.

Many, many bloggers help inform my decision. And there are author friends—Kate Moses, Jay Kirk, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto—whose instincts I always trust.

bermudaonion said...

I'm not going to name names, but I have several bloggers, one publisher and one real life friend I totally trust for recommendations.

TexasRed said...

I have several college friends who I've swapped books with over the years. When one of them recommends book to me, I usually pick it up within a week.

lilly said...

First of all, let me just come out of the closet and say it out loud: I DO NOT LIKE OPRAH!
Phew, not that that's out of the way, my equivalent is definitely Stephen King. I love his books, I really like his attitude to life, especially after having read On Writing. So, when he recommends a book I go for it without second thoughts.

Julie P. said...

Thanks for the shout out - you MUST read PEACE LIKE A RIVER. It is amazing and the biblical allusions are just so thought-provoking (there are also literary and historical references, too!)

Anyway, I sound like I'm kissing up but you are someone I trust! Based on your recommendation, I read the PASSION books and HUNGER GAMES. There are some other bloggers whom I trust and I have a very good friend who has similar reading tastes.

Nari - The Novel World said...

I was just thinking the other day if Martha Stewart would have much power over book sales if she started her own book club. She is, in a way, a rival to Oprah on many levels.

I usually go to my best friend Carmen for most book recommendation, she introduced me to Neil Gaiman in high school and forced me to read the Harry Potter series as well, so I trust her judgment.

By the way, have you been to this website yet? www.livingoprah.com? It was started in Jan. 2008 about a women in Chicago who decided to follow (and track) all of Oprah's advice, for one year. Its a very interesting and fun read.

Gwen Dawson said...

Great post! Who's my Oprah? I've got a few, and they're all book bloggers. If I have to name a public figure, I guess it would be Michael Silverblatt of the Bookworm radio program (and podcast). His author interviews are incredibly insightful, and his literary tastes line up well with my own.

Vasilly said...

Most of my Oprahs are other bloggers: Nymeth, Chris at Stuff Dreams are Made On, Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings, Jill at Well-Read Child, Frances at Non Such Book, and Laura Miller who writes for Salon.com

Hagelrat said...

Ok people who, if they say "this is good" I believe them.
Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Kat Richardson, Dana Fredsti, in no particular order of priority.
Otherwise there are bloggers I know have similar tastes so I trust their views.

Angiegirl said...

I have a friend who is an editor and has excellent taste. She always gives me the heads up when something wonderful is coming out. As far as authors go, if Lloyd Alexander, Sharon Shinn, or Patricia Briggs blurbed it, I'm in. There are a few bloggers I trust without reservation. If they say they adored it, it's pretty much a sure thing for me.

melissa said...

Just a friend. After she recommended about 4 books that ended up being my all-time faves, I figured she just couldn't go wrong. Plus, she's been a friend for a long time. That's what helps me trust a person's word.

Jen Robinson said...

I have several other bloggers who serve this function for me, and I count on them for it. I even do a regular feature where I link to the "reviews that made me want the book." But if I had to pick one, I'd probably go with Liz Burns from A Chair, A Fireplace, a Tea Cozy. She'll say something like: "Dig your ARC out from BEA. Put it on your "must get" list for ALA. Add it to your orders for when it gets published in September. Yes, it is that good." and I'll add it to my list. Bonus points to Liz, because I also get TV and movie recommendation from her.

Marie Burton said...

I am going to name names of the top 3 of "MY OPRAHs"... the ones who really add to my TBR pile for ones that I truly read and buy:

Amy of Passages to The Past
Daphne of Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff
Arleigh & Lucy of Royal Intrigue

Amee said...

I'd say Steph from Reviewer X, Meg Cabot, and my grandma are my Oprahs! :P

Jennie Nash said...

What a great post and a great question...of course it completely stresses me out because I don't know that I HAVE one! I have many. But how nice it would be to have just ONE. And as an author, the question (of where people get their reading recommendations from) is also the Holy Grail: how does a book get word of mouth? Can you manipulate it? Buy it? Mabye pray for it?? Thanks for getting us all thinking....

Liz B said...

I would have to go with real-life friend Carlie Webber (who blogs at Librarilly Blonde at http://blogs.bccls.org/carlie/), because she knows good books and isn't afraid to say the good, the bad, and the ugly; and Jen Hubert of Reading Rants, who has been reviewing YA books online since 1998 at http://www.readingrants.org/. Jen's reviews are always fresh, funny, and concise.

Jenny Girl said...

This is probably going to sound weird or anti-establishment or something, but I do not have an Oprah. I don't care to listen to Oprah or anything she says either. If anything I look the other way because I rather think for myself.
I know it sounds mean, but I have never been a good follower. I'll take people's opinions under advisement but never rush out and get something because someone else said to. I never go for the thing that is popular at the moment. I take my own sweet time to come around to things, and only after I have thought about it.
With regards to books, however, I guess I'm different. I do add to my tbr because of certain bloggers, but I think it's also because I like those bloggeers...if that makes any sense. It's not just about the books :)
Sorry if I rambled.

Meghan said...

Jenny Girl - I didn't comment here before because I don't have an Oprah either! I really don't. I have several book bloggers I trust, but none that will get me to go out and buy a book ASAP. I don't go out and buy Oprah books. I don't even necessarily go out and buy prize winners. In general, I wait for a mass consensus or if I find the book interesting, I just go for it. Of course, I add books to my wishlist after blogger reviews, it's the finally buying them that is a different story.

I'm freer with library books, I will pick those up from just 1 person's review. This might change once I actually have an income, for what it's worth. When you hoard all the money you have, you have to make sure you're getting a good value.

Rebecca :) said...

While I have enjoyed many selections from Oprah, I can say with certainty that neither she nor anyone else gives me a 100% stamp of approval for anything. Just the kind of person I am. I always say that people react in a hundred different ways to the exact same book, even if all hundred liked it. So, to me reading a review by someone I know I have similar tastes to is a pretty good indicator that I will enjoy the book, but not always. While there are several bloggers that I have very similar tastes to, I would never get a book based solely on just their review. I tend to read a variety of reviews and get a more diverse opinion on a book. Not always, but as a loose rule I do. I don't expect for anyone to buy a book or discount a book based solely on my review, either, which I know has happened and probably will continue to happen, but I think it is better to get more opinions. I know, for one thing, that I am ADD and have a terrible time liking anything that is slow paced, no matter how fabulous the book is. I even applaud when reviewers note how slow it is because then I can make a more informed decision on whether the end result will be worth the time and struggle it will take me to read it. I think I am rambling on and on now and I hope I have made some sort of point, Amy...:)

verbatim said...

The person whose taste I find myself most often agreeing with is Trish, of Trish's Reading Nook, along with yourself and Nymeth. If I read a rave review on any of these three sites, I immediately click over and add it to my Amazon Wish List!

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