Oprah’s Top Literary Scandals

Oprah’s name signifies much more than the famous talk show host herself — it stands for character: lifting oneself up, striving for human decency, searching for philanthropy and constantly improving one’s self-awareness. Oprah often guides us “to live our best life” by showing us… what to purchase. In fact, the New York Times has called her “the most powerful endorsement in pop culture.” And, the pressure for Oprah’s “picks” to perform is most apparent when she reaches out to the literary world. According to Business Week, “Publishers estimate that her power to sell a book is anywhere from 20 to 100 times that of any other media personality.” With those odds and that much personal pull, something is bound to go awry. Here are a few titles she touched that turned to gold, but not without a dash of drama and controversy along the way.

Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret

In January of 2006, The Secret made its appearance on Oprah with great praise, promising to bring “strength, power, unlimited abundance, health, and joy” to life’s suffering. Its method is simple — think positively and good shall come. Within hours of airing, The Secret became a bestselling hit, heralding its gurus Joe Vitale and James Arthur Ray. However, public opinion would soon sway. In March 2007, Vitale claimed on Larry King Live that Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old murder victim, “attracted” her own horrific death, leaving viewers a bit skeptical of the practice he preaches. Meanwhile, a self-help retreat led by Arthur Ray in 2009 left three followers dead at a sweat lodge in northern Arizona, resulting in three counts of manslaughter for its “spiritual” guide, who plead “not guilty” and currently waits to stand trial.