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Exclusive Interview with Oprah Magazine Books Editor

Leigh Haber, Books Editor of O, The Oprah Magazine

By Mary Yuhas

Leigh Haber has been the Books Editor of O, The Oprah Magazine since 2012.  Haber is a former editor who published Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” Bill Maher’s “New Rules” and Noah Oppenheim and David Kidder’s “The Intellectual Devotional.”  She now suggests candidates to Oprah Winfrey for her consideration for the popular Oprah Book Club in addition to editing the magazine’s monthly reading room pages.

A huge thank you to Leigh Haber for taking some time from her busy schedule to answer these questions.

How many books do you select each month for your publication?

It varies but we have four-five pages.  We can cover about 19-20 books each month.  The lede review gets a whole page.  The smaller reviews get a half a page or less, and for our ten list, we pick ten books and give them a few sentences each.  In our Summer Reading issue, though—we get twice the space.

About how many people submit their books monthly to O for consideration?

We get hundreds of books every week—submitted by publishers, individual authors, agents.  Some of them come in the mail or by messenger, and others digitally.

How do you choose a book for the book club?

Oprah herself is the ultimate arbiter of the book club.  If she doesn’t love a book, it doesn’t get picked.  It’s my job to send her books to consider, books I think she’ll love as much as I do.  But every reader is different.  What one loves another may not connect with.  I can’t speak for Oprah but she loves making discoveries, falling in love with language to the point where she wants to read aloud from the book and quote it, and she loves characters who find some kind of redemption.

Is there any genre you won’t consider? A favorite genre?

I think it’s probably safe to say that novels and memoirs are the most likely candidates, but you never know!

What is the submission process?

There is no submission process per se.  Ms. Winfrey wants to fall in love with a book, and for the book club picks to arise organically.

Do you have a most memorable book that was on the Book Club?

Since I’ve only been involved in one pick that’s been announced so far, the most memorable for me was the last one, Twelve Tribes of Hattie.  It was exciting to see how much Oprah loved the book, and how she delighted in surprising the author.  Before that, though—and that means before I began working at O last September—I always followed the book club picks.  I can’t think of one that hasn’t been extraordinary!

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Author Mary Yuhas, has over 52,000 reads on Scribd of the first three chapters of her memoir, Quit and Be Quiet, about growing up with a severely mentally ill mother.

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Sara Shai says:

    Thank you for your time and your communication.
    Your article is both helpful and very inspiring in its authenticity.

    It carries hope and courage for someone like me.
    My book / my story takes place 40 years ago in Israel.
    I was married at 18, forced to leave my family, my country and my community to find freedom from the brutal blame, shame, and guilt following the suicide of my husband.
    The book explores with great variability my longing to acceptance, love and freedom, as I have a deep inspiration, and hope to make a difference in the life of women like myself…surviving suicide, hiding with shame, being left behind but finally able to discover that the light at the end of the tunnel was always on !
    My journey includes moving to the USA to find redemption, in the process I embraces many hardships and experience some uncharted realms of life; being persistence with tenacity I found self –realization that allowing me to celebrate my love for life.

    I will greatly value you input
    Thank you
    Sara Shai

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