Newsflash: Oprah’s picked her next book club book. It’s not a novel or memoir but — get this — a self help book: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

Steve Salerno must be tearing his hair out (Salerno, who I interviewed for my Philadelphia Inquirer article about self help books, is not a fan). I’m keeping a close eye on his SHAM blog to see his reaction. I’m sure he’ll be much more passionate that I could ever be about the topic (he did, after all, write Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless), but I’ll go out on a limb to say our views are along the same line: a big thumbs down.

I remember when Oprah first started the book club. It brought literary fiction and powerful memoirs to the masses. I thought it was a great idea, even if I didn’t always like the choices. It got people reading and discussing serious literature again.

But this? A book that amazon describes with the following? “Experience a more fulfilling life with Oprah’s latest pick, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Building on his bestselling Power of Now, Tolle shows why a transformation of consciousness is essential to finding personal happiness–and ending suffering throughout the world.”

Touting another self help book? That doesn’t seem to fit the point of the book club to me.

Granted, she’s Oprah, and she can do whatever she wants. But I wish she’d stick to focusing on serious literature.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.


  1. Steve Salerno on January 30, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Well, I mean, as long as a book’s goals are relatively modest and not overstated…like, say, “ending suffering throughout the world.” Then I guess I can see it. 😉

    As for tearing my hair out: I’m in no position to do any such thing, Jen. I must savor and safeguard what is left, these days. Now, on the other hand, if Tolle’s book were called, “A New Mane: Awakening Your Follicle’s Purpose,” then I’d be first on line at the book signing….

  2. Trish Ryan on January 31, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    I gasped audibly when I saw this pick. Not sure what Ms. Winfrey is thinking?

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