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15 May 2010

Book Review: Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant

Title: Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk
Author: Robyn Okrant
Publisher: Center Street
Publication Date: January 4, 2010
Hardcover: 272 pages
ISBN: 978-1599952390
Genre: Biography, Autobiography, Social Science

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From the Publisher:

What happens when a thirty-five-year-old average American woman spends one year following every piece of Oprah Winfrey's advice on how to "live your best life"? Robyn Okrant devoted 2008 to adhering to all of Oprah's suggestions and guidance delivered via her television show, her Web site, and her magazine. LIVING OPRAH is a month-by-month account of that year.
Some of the challenges included enrollment in Oprah's Best Life Challenge for physical fitness and weight control, living vegan, and participating in Oprah's Book Club. After 365 days of LIVING OPRAH, Okrant reflects on the rewards won and lessons learned as well as the tolls exacted by the experiment.

My Review:

Living Oprah
by Robyn Okrant is no ordinary book, especially not for me. Let me explain a little so one can understand the difficulties I perceived that I faced (before realizing this was more a sociological study). I went into this reading this book hesitantly, as I am not an Oprah watcher. I did see some shows early in the 90s and since 2002, I watched exactly two episodes: Bra fitting and jean fitting, to be specific. I am neither a fan nor a critic of Oprah, I believe she empowers women, she is without a doubt charitable and to my great happiness I believe she has figuratively placed books into many hands that may not otherwise have chosen to read another book after completing school had it not been for the inception of her book club. Yet I question various other aspects of her philosophy, especially as regards body image, there appears to always be some new diet or slimming technique; so much for being authentic. Thus the thought of reading about someone living by Oprah's numerous suggestions made me hesitant about being engulfed in a world of "Oprah", which is why this book sat on my shelf as long as it did.

Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant was not what I envisioned, rather than someone trying to be someone else, she took the year as an experiment and writes what appears to be a very honest and detailed journey of the year she spent following tips from the blog, magazine and show. I appreciated her wit as well her courage to state what did and did not work for her. Okrant embarked on a journey I personally would never have thought to take and while it is one I still would not try, she did, and she learned from this journey so much about herself and not necessarily in the manner in which many may be sitting back and thinking, "of course she did, look at the advice she followed". I am quite glad I was given the opportunity to read Living Oprah. Will I personally be following parts of the path? No. However I appreciate fully Robyn's book and the sociology behind it.

I learned the most from Robyn's perception of what makes a woman a woman and it is my hope that other readers who pick up this book truly hear what Robyn learned, that being a woman is not a one-size-fits-all term. I do recommend this book to women, men too should they be so inclined, but especially women. Living Oprah is a fascinating sociological study for those who are Oprah devotees and for those who are not.

About the Author:

Robyn Okrant is a writer, director, performer, and yoga teacher. She graduated from Bennington College in Vermont, majoring in Drama (both socially and academically) and holds an MFA in performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Robyn has produced, written, and directed many original pieces: from traditional stage plays to solo performances to sketch comedy to improvised full-length plays, and, most recently, short films.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, Jim, and two cats, Wasabi and Selmarie. When pressed, she’ll admit to being a schlumpadinka at heart but thinks it’s part of her charm. You can visit the author at her website.

I received a complimentary copy of Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant from Hachette. Receiving a free copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.



Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings said...

Great review and a book I'm going to order at my library. I'm sure they'll have it!

Tea said...

I would love to read it. I like the way you wrote this review. I wouldn't have the nerve to try it either.

Staci said...

Sounds like an interesting read, but I'm positive that I would not want to live the Oprah way. I like myself just fine!

Jenny Girl said...

I understand your apprehension about this book. Kudos for reading it. Not sure if I could because I despise all things Oprah, but I understand what you are saying. Nice review Jen!

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Thank you,

Bill ;-)

Hope you'll check out my book giveaway: Seek Followers, please stop by...

fredamans said...

I just added to my list, it sounds like one I'd like.
Good review!