Pages - Menu


Friday, September 5, 2014

Pin It


Book Review: What I Know For Sure

One of the most beloved and simultaneously polarizing figures in modern culture is Oprah Winfrey. Whether you know her through her 25 year talk show, her popular book club, her magazine or her television network, everybody knows Oprah. Or, at least we think we do. Before reading this book, I would say I had a pretty good idea of the kind of person Oprah Winfrey was. As a long time fan and almost lifetime viewer of her talk show, I was already convinced of her good intentions and positive effects on the world. Being that she is known for interviewing celebrities, it doesn't surprise me that a lot of people don't view her as anything but a rich gossip monger. One thing no one can deny is her generosity. At the end of every chapter in this book, I found myself imagining O shouting "YOU GET A LIFE LESSON! YOU GET A LIFE LESSON! EVERYBODY GETS A LIFE LESSON!" And life lessons I got.

The book is actually a collection of columns previously published in O Magazine in a recurring section called "What I Know For Sure" where Oprah is challenged to touch on things that she feels she is certain of in her life. During an interview with film critic Gene Siskel in 1998, Oprah was faced with the question of "what she knew for sure" and she admits that for the first time in a long time, she was completely speechless. This question became a driving force in her life, allowing her to reflect in a positive and productive way on the things she had endured and accomplished. Some of the columns are very light, with Oprah regaling a time where she drank her favorite tea or read a poem that inspired her, others are seated in painful memories from her adolescence. I found myself equally affected by both extremes. Oprah has a unique way of taking a very small happening and turning it into one of her "aha" moments. These "aha" moments are the pinnacles of her mantra, and the bulk of this collection.

I was particularly moved by a specific entry (as this feels like a journal of sorts) where Oprah confesses that she is actually a very shy and reclusive person. Being that she knows everyone and is so adept at public speaking, this came as a surprise to me. Due to her troubled past, and the hardships she endured to reach the mega million dollar status that she holds today, it seems natural that she would be weary of others. At a later age in her life, she began to reflect on the fact that she had lived in apartments her entire life. Apartments where she barely knew any of her neighbors. When Oprah finally decided to move into a house, in a busy neighborhood, it became clear that she was inserting herself into a tight nit community. When her neighbors accepted her immediately, she was baffled. This acceptance allowed her to open herself up to a slew of new relationships that she values deeply to this day. I enjoyed reading about moments where she took the lessons she was preaching, and put them into practice. 

Oprah and I share a lot of our core values, and therefore I found the book very relatable and especially useful for a daily affirmation. The lessons she is advocating are objective enough to allow people from all walks of life to pull something from them. In no way does she imply that she has it all figured out, or even anything figured out, but she highlights the amazing experiences she has had and dissects the things she was able to learn. Being able to hear snippets of her candid conversations with such amazing figures as Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Maya Angelou was a real treat in this collection, and that is something that makes this book rare. 

I fear that a lot of people will write this book off as someone with money attempting to exploit their experiences and write a lot of generic positive mantras, but I truly believe that if you look past how basic these ideas are, you will find something moving and helpful in her stories. The things she is proposing are not revolutionary, they may be things you hear everyday, but they are excellent reminders of the things that we take for granted in our complicated lives. I plan to buy a copy for my mom (the reason I am such an Oprah fan) and a couple of my girlfriends who I know could benefit from these reminders. 

To close, I would like to include a couple of my favorite snippets from the book:

Oprah on reading:
What I love most about reading: It gives you the ability to reach higher ground. And keep climbing. 
Her favorite Maya Angelou quote:
When I move through the world, I bring all my history with me-all the people who paved the way for me are part of who I am. 
On self love:
You, alone, make a whole person. And if you feel incomplete, you alone must fill all your empty, shattered spaces with love. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself." 
On life:
What you put out comes back all the time, no matter what. (This is my creed.)
On forgiveness:
Whatever someone did to you in the past has no power over the present. Only you give it power. 
Title: What I Know For Sure

Author: Oprah Winfrey

Genre: Non Fiction

Recommendation: Absolutely

Best Reader Audience: Fans of Oprah Winfrey, skeptics of Oprah Winfrey, HUMANS

Final Rating: Five out of five bunny bums!
Want to take embark on an emotional journey through the life of an icon? Use this link to help support the Lone Book Club.

No comments:

Post a Comment