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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
Oprah's club boosts classic
Oprah Winfrey with John Steinbeck's East of Eden
Oprah Winfrey read John Steinbeck's East of Eden on holiday
TV host Oprah Winfrey has resurrected her influential book club, with her first pick propelled onto best-seller lists within hours.

Winfrey, who recently agreed to keep her talk show for another five years, had taken a 14-month break from the club, in which she recommends novels to her viewers.

But on Wednesday, she announced her first new choice after being impressed with John Steinbeck's East of Eden, first published more than 50 years ago.

And by 0730 GMT on Thursday, it had shot to number two on the best-seller list of online retailer Amazon.

"I was literally halfway through East of Eden and thought, 'Gee, I wish I had a book club again'," Winfrey said.

Publishers Penguin Group USA have ordered a print run of 600,000 copies for a book that usually sells fewer than 50,000 per year.

Winfrey suspended her book club in April 2002 because she did not have time to choose a novel every month.

'Story of me'

She will now make between three and five recommendations per year, focusing on older authors.

East of Eden, published in 1952, first went to number one in book charts shortly after being released.

Tracking two families from the Civil War to World War I, Steinbeck described it as "the story of my country and the story of me".

In May, Winfrey confirmed she would carry on with her programme until 2008 - after originally planning to retire two years earlier.

"I believe continuing to have a voice and a platform to speak to the world is still the right thing to do," she said.

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