What the Dickens? Oprah chooses 'A Tale of Two Cities' and 'Great Expectations' as her next Book Club picks

oprah-dickensImage Credit: Daniel Boczarski/FilmMagic.com; London Stereoscopic Company/Getty ImagesAfter the amends-making choice of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, Oprah Winfrey has settled on another author whose work consists largely of social novels with extensive casts of characters. Only this one died 140 years ago. Two classic novels by Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations, will be receiving the coveted Oprah’s Book Club sticker, so if you only pretended to read them in high school English class, now is your chance to read them for real. Oprah will announce the selection during today’s show, which also features her reunion with Franzen following their 2001 Book Club-related falling-out.

This isn’t the first time Oprah has gone with a tried-and-true classic over a new release: Previous selected titles include Anna Karenina, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and East of Eden. The two novels are being released together in a special paperback edition by Penguin, but they are also available very cheaply in e-book format. But the question is: Was this the best of picks, or was it the worst of picks? Are you excited to (re-)read Dickens’ novels, or are you afraid they’ll be as stale as Miss Havisham’s wedding cake?

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  • Jenn


    • Ok

      ITA So unbelievably sick of Oprah.

    • klez

      People like you are what’s wrong with the culture. You have no attention span for great books. What Oprah’s doing is great on so many levels.

      • Kristen

        EXCEPT. Dickens is difficult to read. My high school freshman son just struggled through GE. Tale is much better with lots of death and destruction (thanks France). Both books together makes me think Oprah hasn’t read either and is just trying to prove the BBC wrong.

      • Cal

        i think Tale of Two Cities has a great theme behind it and a great ending, it’s just too bad that you have wait through abourt 300 pages of unimportance to get to it

    • Person Who Talks

      Great Expectations is boring as hell, but Tale of Two Cities is actually a phenomenal book…seriously

      • Karen

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  • Cara

    This article says the books are available “very cheaply in e-book format.” Keith Staskiewicz, you really need to go learn about Project Gutenberg. All the public domain classics are there *free* — this has been the case for over fifteen years! So if anyone wants to read these books for free, it’s definitely possible.

    • steph

      especially if you use the new google thing for ebooks – its a readable format, and FREE!

    • orville

      Heck, many of the classics are available for free off of Borders.com and Amazon.com’s sites for e-books.

    • Ok

      It’s so 20th century, but all books are free at the public library.

      • Jan


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  • nodnarb

    She also picked several novels from Faulkner for her book club a few years ago. Hate on Oprah all you want, but honestly I can’t fault anyone who champions reading. And A Tale of Two Cities is a fantastic story.

    • agree

      I agree. Oprah’s fantastic. And in this day and age, having someone like her constantly promoting literature to such a huge audience is all the more important.

  • Rocky

    Although I am disappointed in the selection, I am excited to see how the Big O manages to interview the author. If anyone can arrange that, she can.

    • fooballmom

      funny funny! thanks for making me laugh on an otherwise typical boring Monday!

  • G.R.

    Cool. I happen to be reading ‘Great Expectations’ at the moment (I’ve got about 120 pages left)…

    • AcaseofGeo

      “Great Expectations” is one of my favorite books of all time! I’ve read it several times. I’m not a big fan of Oprah, but I’m glad she champions reading. Her picks seem to be a bit random, but if it gets people to read something as great as this (or books at all), I’m all for it

  • lamada

    Thank God there is someone still celebrating great literature & bringing it to a mass audience in the age of 24 hour cable, blogs & twitter. Thank God for Oprah!

  • J

    I love Dickens, but I wish that she had picked one, long, juicy novel by him, instead of two so-so novels. My vote is for Dombey and Son or David Copperfield. Or even Oliver Twist!

  • Eric Ligon

    Great Expectations is a great story and well worth a new read. I love Dickens. What great stories!

  • Alvin

    Cool! I’m a lit-snob myself but I’m a proud supporter of Oprah and her book club. She’s an easy target and it’s facile and lazy to dis her for picking something like Dickens or Faulkner– who cares if it’s not really her tried and true favorite (and who on earth is anyone to say they aren’t)? If a handful of people in this country discover something new and expand their imagination, that’s great! It seems too many of the folks who rail against other people for being ‘uncultured’ are the same ones who bemoan any attempt like this to begin a national conversation, however brief, however cursory, about something substantive. Go literature, and go Oprah!

  • steph

    i love reading literature, and hopefully this will get more people doing the same!

  • Aimee

    Oh come on! Charles Dickens is a fantastic author, and that hasn’t changed with time (unlike Miss Havisham’s wedding cake, urgh). Everyone who’s whining about Oprah’s choices are associating these great books with their high school memories. I think it’s cool that Oprah is bringing back some of the classics.

  • Jon

    Just finished reading Great Expectations for the first time a week ago, and I loved it… Pip is the man!!!!!

  • Ixarix

    Really cool that Great Expectations and Tale of Two Cities were choosen.

  • jj

    Dickens is great. But I would not read his works simply because an egotistical woman who publishes a magazine with her face on the cover every month tells me to.

    • Natalia

      It’s so sad that so many people are blind to what Obama rellay is. All they can muster is to insult the folks that are trying to tell the truth about the clear and present danger of electing Obama.God help us all.

  • Strepsi

    I think it’s a phenomenal choice, because Dickens si one of the greatest authors of all time — and incredibly concerned with children and social welfare — so it also fits Oprah’s MO.

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