Eckhart Tolle tops Winfrey's book club bestseller list

A title by self-help author Eckhart Tolle has topped a list of the biggest selling books championed by departing TV diva Oprah Winfrey over the past decade.

Vancouver author's self-help guide sold 3.4 million copies

A title by self-help author Eckhart Tolle has topped a list of the biggest selling books championed by departing TV diva Oprah Winfrey over the past decade.

The Vancouver resident's A New Earth is the book that sold the most copies after Winfrey chose it for her TV book club, according to Nielsen BookScan.

Published in 2008, the self-help guide sold 3.4 million copies after being anointed by the influential talk show host.

It was followed on the BookScan list by James Frey's infamous  A Million Little Pieces — a purported addiction memoir that was later exposed as more fiction than fact — and Elie Wiesel's Holocaust autobiography Night.

In determining its tally, Nielsen only included works released in special Winfrey book club editions. Nielsen does not have numbers for Winfrey's club from 1996 to 2000.

Tolle's self-help empire began in 1997 with The Power of Now. The author has described a horrible childhood in Germany that left him feeling alienated through his 20s and falling into a suicidal depression during his studies in London. In 1977, he experienced an epiphany that led him to a stay in a Buddhist monastery. He also wandered around, homeless and often sleeping in parks in London and Cambridge.

Top 10 Oprah Bestsellers

  1. A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle.
  2. A Million Little Pieces, James Frey.
  3. Night, Elie Wiesel.
  4. The Road, Cormac McCarthy.
  5. We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates.
  6. East of Eden, John Steinbeck.
  7. The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett.
  8. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  9. Icy Sparks, Gwyn Hyman Rubio.
  10. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski.

Eventually, Tolle became a spiritual teacher in Glastonbury, west of London. In 1995, he settled in Vancouver with his wife.

Life after Oprah

Winfrey broadcasts the final episode of her long-running talk show on May 25. The show's end has led many in the book business to contemplate its effect on book sales.

"We will certainly miss her from a business point of view, but also because of how she got people talking about books," said Susan Petersen Kennedy, president of Penguin Group (USA), which published A New Earth as well as other Winfrey-supported titles such as Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth and John Steinbeck's East of Eden.

"I think a lot more reading groups started because of her."

Still, not all of Winfrey's choices became blockbusters.

In 2002, Canadian author Ann-Marie MacDonald's novel Fall on Your Knees sold more than 700,000 copies after being tapped by Winfrey. However, the very next choice — Toni Morrison's Sula — sold fewer than 150,000.

With files from The Associated Press