One woman’s yearlong mission to adhere to the advice Oprah Winfrey offered in her show, magazine and website.
At age 35, Chicago-based yoga teacher and graduate student Okrant kicked off 2008 by swearing to follow all of Oprah’s directives and record her experience in a blog, “Living Oprah.” She conceived of this quest because, in her view, no one other than Oprah “reaches as deeply and thoroughly into every corner of a woman’s existence.” The book is organized by month, and each chapter is prefaced with an overview of how much money and time she spent on the projects. The exact measurements of her endeavor are broken down at the end of each chapter in charts recording cent and five-minute increment devoted to watching every Oprah episode, including reruns, taking online quizzes about her happiness and health and adopting a shelter cat. Her journey required an inordinate amount of shopping for “must-have clothing,” Oprah-endorsed food items, gardening equipment, a weighted Walkvest (“Oprah said, ‘Get that thing’ ”), XM Radio, recommended movie tickets, Dr. Oz–approved supplements, a weekend getaway, home hair dye, etc. Though she grew increasingly exhausted, Okrant maintains a jovial, self-effacing tone. But the results are mixed. The author finds the talk-show host overly focused on physical appearance, and, by June, her “capacity to enjoy repetitive infotainment ha[d] dwindled.” Benefits include de-cluttering her apartment, committing to both the Best Life Challenge and a 21-day vegan diet, trying new recipes and invigorating her sex life with her seemingly good-natured, patient husband. The greatest upside, of course, was the attention the author’s blog garnered, evidenced by her thousands of readers and unsolicited attention and publicity, including an appearance on NPR, tickets to the Oprah show and a book deal. Unsurprisingly, Okrant’s memoir reads like a printed-out blog, tracking quotidian tasks and revelations, the most significant of which is the value of finally turning off her television.
A pleasant but predictable read.