Reading With Oprah

Read any good books lately? Though we don't like to admit it, for too many of us the answer is "no." Too busy. Too many other things - newspapers, magazines, catalogues - crowding out our book-reading time. Too much TV.

So we find it a bit ironic - but very heartening - that the leading lady of daytime television is doing what book publishers, educators, and parents have been trying to do practically since the beginning of time: getting people to read more books.

Oprah's Book Club, a monthly segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show, is only several months old, but already publishers have become the talk-show host's biggest fans. Not surprising considering that in the five or so weeks since Winfrey selected Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon," more than twice as many copies of the book have sold than in the nine years since it was written. Winfrey's previous selection, "The Deep End of the Ocean," shot to the top of The New York Times bestseller list.

Winfrey says she started Oprah's Book Club for one reason: "I want to get the country reading." She also insists that she reads none of the solicitation letters she receives from publishers or publicists because she wants to keep her selections "pure."

That's not hard to believe. While other talk shows remain mired in the often sleazy and irresponsible battle for ratings, the Oprah Winfrey Show has stayed above the fray. Now Winfrey has proven she can get people reading. And we salute that effort.

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