Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex

Last updated date: October 21, 2019

DWYM Score
8.8


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We looked at the top Oprah Book Club Books and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Oprah Book Club Book you should buy.

Overall Take

In our analysis of 128 expert reviews, the Jeffrey Eugenides Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex placed 7th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note November 4, 2019:
Checkout The Best Oprah Book Club Book for a detailed review of all the top oprah book club books.

Expert Summarized Score
9.0
7 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.5
3,045 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
A rich, complex family drama, spanning multiple generations and featuring heavy subjects like incest, immigration, family secrets and twentieth-century America.
- Good Reads
One of the best qualities of this book is the way Eugenides skillfully weaves together history and fiction.
- Sophisticated Dorkiness
April 27, 2010 | Full review
Told from narrator Calliope's Stephanides's perspective, Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Eugenides explores the complexities of growing up female but struggling between male and female identity—while also battling to comprehend a Greek and American heritage. Eugenides used his own part-Mediterranean background to inject Cal's cultural background with authenticity.
- The Oprah Magazine
September 26, 2018 | Full review
The last and best reason you should read Middlesex in my opinion is the ending of the book. Offers a climactic yet resolving finish to an arresting read.
- M.B. Keen
March 19, 2018 | Full review
Eugenides is a brilliant stylist, full of clever asides, striking metaphors, and memorable turns of phrase. The prose starts strong, but gets even better as the novel progresses.
- The New Canon
It’s a wonderful story full of colorful, involving characters, and Eugenides deserves all the accolades he’s gotten if only for his gift of taking characters (hermaphrodites, immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities) that society treats as somehow “other” and getting us to see ourselves in them.
- Curled Up With A Good Book
Amazing book. Keeps you entertained along the entire breadth of it. This is modern fiction that one can enjoy. Recommended!
- Library Thing
What experts didn't like
In the end, I felt like it didn't deliver. I see a lot of connections Eugendides is making about identity, but they didn't seem developed.
- Good Reads
This sharp contrast between the tone and topic of Middlesex has disturbed some readers.
- The New Canon
I didn't actually finish the book, but I'm letting it go. Despite getting about halfway through, I just wasn't interested in finishing.
- Library Thing

From The Manufacturer

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver's license...records my first name simply as Cal." So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic. Middlesex is the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

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4. Pearl S. Buck The Good Earth
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5. Wally Lamb She’s Come Undone
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6. Tayari Jones An American Marriage
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7. Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex
Overall Score: 8.8
Expert Reviews: 7
8. Imbolo Mbue Behold the Dreamers
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An Overview On Oprah Book Club Books

Reading more books is a common personal goal, but it’s tough to accomplish without some good recommendations. In 1996, Oprah Winfrey decided that it was time to give her viewers some much-needed guidance on their next book choice.

Oprah’s Book Club started off as a new segment in Oprah’s hit daily talk show. She’d choose one book per month (usually a novel) for her viewers to devour and discuss. The segment was a massive hit, and Oprah’s power in the publishing world remains unsurpassed. One expert estimated that a recommendation by Oprah increased a book’s sales by 20 to 100 times the normal rate. 

During the club’s initial 15-year run, Oprah selected 70 books. They ranged from older classics, like Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina,” to indie titles like Breena Clarke’s “River, Cross My Heart” and Tawni O’Dell’s “Back Roads.”

Oprah shuttered her original book club in 2011, but revived it in 2012 as an online version called Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Even with her long record of excellent recommendations, it might still be tricky to find an amazing book that works for you.

If it’s been a while since you last sat down with a book and you want to get the most for your money, take a hint from Socrates: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” Your own interests and life experiences will dictate which books you’re drawn to and which ones you set down after the first chapter.

Do you have children who are growing into young adults (or are you reminiscing about your own adolescence)? A coming-of-age tale among Oprah’s picks might be a good fit for your bedside table. Interested in exploring your family’s roots? Look for a novel featuring people with your background set hundreds of years ago. Itching for a story from a powerful writer? Check out the Classics section on Amazon and immerse yourself in a legendary book. 

Of course, writing and reading are meant to build bridges. You’ll miss out if you only select stories that directly relate to your current or past experiences. Look for Oprah’s Book Club selections by authors from a different race, ethnicity or socioeconomic class to expand your horizons. Stories that you couldn’t even imagine experiencing will open your mind and create empathy for a broader, more inclusive look at the world.

Now that you have an overview of what Oprah’s Book Club was all about (plus some general book-choosing guidelines), trek on over to our Tips & Advice for more detailed information.

DYWM Fun Fact

Oprah’s Book Club reignited a love of reading for millions of people. However, things got tense for OBC fans in 2006. Oprah selected James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” for her club in September 2005, and readers couldn’t get enough of Frey’s memoir. It was a true account of his life as a drug addict, criminal and jailbird — or so Oprah thought. 

A few months after her stamp of approval (and after his book sold several million copies), critics began questioning Frey’s stories about his time in rehab and jail. As more accusations surfaced, Winfrey brought Frey back on her show in January 2006 and confronted him. After an intense exchange, Frey admitted that he’d lied about his time in jail and was unsure about other large sections of the book. Oprah also confronted Frey’s publisher Nan Talese on air, forcing her to admit that she hadn’t fact-checked Frey’s account. 

Oprah’s audience booed Frey, and she said that she felt “duped” and apologized to her viewers. However, Winfrey made a personal phone call to Frey in 2008 and apologized for the on-air brawl. The bad book blood was put to bed, but viewers never forgot “Frey Day.”

The Oprah Book Club Book Buying Guide

  • Making room in your life for more reading is admirable, but life doesn’t always want to cooperate. Take a realistic look at how much free time you have before you invest in a 500-page novel. It’s better on your psyche (and your wallet) if you choose a shorter book that you actually have time to complete.
  • That being said, a book’s physical length isn’t always the best indicator of how much time you’ll have to devote to reading it. Short books with complex language, difficult vocabulary and challenging themes can take much longer to read than lengthy books with shorter sentences and quicker action. You can get a sense of a book’s difficulty from the free, short samples that Amazon provides for most of its books.
  • A great book combines a riveting plot with deep, well-developed characters, but many stories lean more heavily on one of those components than the other. Books that are more driven by plot usually (but not always) move a little faster as you read them. Books that lean on character development and move forward by drawing you into the fold of a character’s mind might seem a bit slower. Many readers prefer one over the other, but both types of literature become riveting in the hands of a deft author.
  • Oprah’s recommendations are meant for adults, so the language and themes might not be appropriate for younger readers. If you’ve got kids in the house, give them age-appropriate books so you can bond over reading without exposing them to a book they’re not ready for. 
  • To ebook or not to ebook? That’s the eternal question of the digital age. Choosing an Oprah’s Book Club title in ebook form has a lot of benefits. You can tote it around with your entire library of books in one slim e-reader, so it’s much easier to take with you while traveling. It won’t take up tons of space in your home either — that’s a relief for anyone who’s tried to pack and move shelves full of books. You’ll also save some paper by forgoing a traditional book. However, you might want to go for a physical copy if you have a job that requires staring at a screen all day. Your eyes get tired without a break from screens, and you’ll do your vision a favor by reading a paper book. Traditional books also look lovely in your home.