Find out what Oprah’s book club is reading right now and see all Oprah Winfrey’s books chosen for her book club list.
In 1996, Oprah Winfrey announced the start of Oprah’s Book Club through the Oprah Winfrey Show. Over the next fifteen years, the Oprah book club list expanded to 70 books and became the most famous celebrity book club ever. An Oprah book was distinguished as being a thought-provoking book for you to read.
After a two year gap, the Oprah book club relaunched in 2012 with Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. The new version of the Oprah Winfrey book club was in collaboration with her media company and magazine. Instead of picking books every month, Winfrey only chooses titles that speak to her.
You’ll find plenty of intriguing reads among Oprah’s book club books. Mixing nonfiction with novels, Oprah’s book club picks are extremely discussion-worthy.
If you are looking for great book club recommendations, here is your complete guide to the Oprah Winfrey books.
Oprah’s Book Club 2021
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Oprah Book Club August 2021: Although raised in a Northern city, Ailey Pearl Garfield spent summers in a small Georgia town where her mother’s ancestors were slaves. As Ailey fights for belonging, the burdens of trauma and the heavy expectations of her family weigh her down. While figuring out her own identity, she dives into her family’s history, uncovering a legacy of bondage and resilience that parallels the story of America.
Oprah Book Club June 2021: As the civil war comes to an end, George and Isabelle Walker hire two newly freed slaves, brother Landry and Prentiss, to work on their farm. The brothers hope to earn enough money to go North to find their mother while the Walkers hope this unlikely friendship will assuage the grief at the death of their son. When two returned Confederate soldiers’ forbidden romance is revealed, chaos breaks out and Isabelle emerges as a leader with an inspiring vision for their Southern town.
March 2021: Marilynne Robinson’s novel takes the reader into the mind of Reverend John Ames, a pastor of a small congregation in Gilead, Iowa. Written in the form of his journal, Ames wants to create a record for his 7-year-old son about his family history – his own experiences and those of his father and grandfather. Oprah has chosen not just this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, but the entire Gilead series for her book club pick.
March 2021: A prodigal son story that takes place at the same time and in the same town as Robinson’s bestseller, Gilead. After twenty years, Reverend Boughton’s hell-raising son Jack has returned home. Jack’s alcoholism and past secrets keep him at odds with his traditionalist father, Jack begins to bond with his sister Glory who has also recently returned home.
March 2021: After a lifetime of living hand to mouth in a hardscrabble childhood, Lila steps into a Iowa church for shelter on a stormy night. When she meets Minister John Ames, their romance changes her life. Yet, Lila has a hard time reconciling her husband’s Christian viewpoints that judge the makeshift family that raised her.
March 2021: Marilynne Robinson’s fourth novel in the Gilead series follows Jack Boughton, the prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister. The disreputable Jack falls in love with Della Miles, a Black high school teacher who is also the son of a preacher, in an interracial courtship that is illegal in post-WWII St. Louis.
Oprah’s Book Club 2020
August 2020: When you think of castes, India’s strict caste system likely comes to mind. In Oprah Winfrey’s new book pick, Wilkerson argues that America has its own hidden caste system, a hierarchy that has influenced the United States both historically and currently. Using fascinating stories, Wilkerson points out that on top of race and class, our understanding of caste systems must also change if we are to better ourselves as a nation.
July 2020: In 1969, a grouchy old deacon named Sportcoat walks into the courtyard of a housing project in Brooklyn and shoots the local drug dealer. Thus ensues the story of the lives impacted by the shooting: the victim and the cops, the minority residents and white neighbors, the deacon and the church members. With a unique cast of characters (all with unique names), McBride showcases a character study of 1960s New York.
June 2020: Shortly after World War II, Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American Dream, raising their twelve children in Colorado. Until one after another, six of their ten sons were diagnosed with schizophrenia. The tale of an American family who became the center of most of our current research on schizophrenia, Hidden Valley Road has become one of the top nonfiction best sellers of 2020.
January 2020: In Mexico, bookstore owner Lydia is charmed to meet Javier, a man who shares her taste in books, only to find he is the local drug lord. When the wrath of the cartel falls upon her family, Lydia and her son Luca must flee all the way to American soil in this mesmerizing story. By far the most controversial book on the Oprah Book Club list in 2020, American Dirt sparked an important discussion about who can tell what stories.
Oprah Winfrey Book List 2.0
November 2019: In the sequel to her Pulitzer Prize-winning book Olive Kitteridge, Olive, Again shows Olive struggling to understand the various people in her hometown of Crosby, Maine. Now, Olive interacts with a teenager dealing with the death of a parent, a pregnant young woman, a nurse with a secret crush, and a lawyer struggling with an inheritance.
September 2019: Best known for his award-winning nonfiction books Between the World and Me and We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s first novel follows Hiram, the black son of a white plantation owner. With no memory of his mother after she is sold away, Hiram tries to win the love of his father. After escaping death, Hiram realizes his father will never love him as a son. After a failed attempt to escape, Hiram eventually joins the Underground – where he aims to rescue others with a mysterious power he has developed.
November 2018: Detailing her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, her success as a working mother, and her years in the White House, Michelle Obama shows how her past has shaped her into who she has become today. A poignant memoir of a woman trying to do her best for her family while balancing the greater good of having a husband in politics, Obama’s story is a remarkable tale no matter what your political affiliation.
Anthony Ray Hinton
June 2018: In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested for a murder he didn’t commit in Alabama. Assuming everything would work out quickly, Hinton was not prepared to be railroaded by an unjust criminal justice system. He spent 30 years on Death Row, before being released with the help of Bryan Stevenson (who covers the story in his memoir, Just Mercy). Hinton’s deeply-moving memoir is a perfect choice for Oprah’s book list.
February 2018: At first glance, newlyweds Celestial and Roy seem like the perfect American couple. He’s a young executive, and she’s an emerging artist. However, as life comes into play and Roy is unjustly imprisoned, their marriage begins to fall apart. Discussing love, marriage, and race, this thought-provoking read is one to add to any reading list.
June 2017: The American Dream. Many hope for it, but how many truly find it? Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel details the lives of Cameroon immigrants living in New York City. In the days preceding the Great Recession, Jende gets lucky enough to get a job as chauffeur to a Lehman Brothers executive. Mbue brilliantly paints a fascinating look at immigrant life – the struggles with the immigration system, the desire for a better life, the balancing of cultural differences and the financial burden that comes with being poor in America. Through her writing, Mbue asks you to ponder: What really brings happiness? and Is the American dream all it’s cracked up to be?
Glennon Doyle Melton
September 2016: After writing about her journey to sobriety and motherhood in Carry On, Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton was blindsided when her husband admitted to multiple affairs. In Love Warrior, she writes of the implosion of her marriage and her journey back to forgiveness and love. Recently, in her memoir Untamed, Glennon Doyle admitted that she forced herself to live a lie to achieve the happily-ever-after story for Love Warrior, and she has since divorced from her husband.
August 2016: An outcast among her fellow Africans, Cora finds life as a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia particularly hard. When Caesar, a new arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, the two hatch a plan to escape. Yet in their efforts, Cora kills a young white boy and the two are furiously hunted as they journey to freedom in the North.
February 2015: After suffering a dark and disturbing childhood, Ruby escapes to New York City. Years later, she returns home to her small East Texas town and is not sure if she can escape again, even with the help of an old friend. The sole choice of Oprah Winfrey books in 2015, Ruby offers a contrast between the darkest parts of human nature and the redeeming acts of love. Warning: Ruby contains many graphic depictions of violence.
Sue Monk Kidd
January 2014: On her eleventh birthday, Sarah Grimke is given a slave, Handful, as her present. As they grow, both Sarah and Handful strive to find greater meaning in their lives. Based on a true story, Sarah Grimke eventually became one of the pioneers of the women’s abolitionist movement. While Handful was a real slave, her story is more fictionalized, but still incredibly powerful.
December 2012: In 1923, Hattie Shepherd leaves Georgia in search of a better life in Philadelphia. Instead, she ends up in a disappointing marriage. Hattie goes on to have 11 children, whom she raises with strength, but not much tenderness. Through the narratives of her children, you see the legacy inherited by the children of the Great Migration.
June 2012: The updated Oprah Winfrey book club list restarted with Strayed’s inspiring memoir. Sometimes it takes doing something crazy, like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, for you to truly put your life in order. By 22, Cheryl Strayed’s life felt out of control, so she decided to make a life-changing decision to hike the PCT. You’ll laugh at Strayed’s mishaps, be in awe had her stupidity and bravery, and, if you are like me, really want to go for a hike.
Oprah Winfrey Books
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Measure of a Man by Sir Sidney Poitier
Night by Elie Wiesel
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Light in August by William Faulkner
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Sula by Toni Morrison
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Cane River by Lalita Tademy
Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
Open House by Elizabeth Berg
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Jewel by Bret Lott
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
I Know THis Much is True by Wally Lamb
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
Paradise by Toni Morrison
The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby
A children’s story by comedian Bill Cosby about a boy searching his room for a treasure and finding out that loved ones are the true treasure.
The Best Way to Play by Bill Crosby
A children’s story by comedian Bill Cosby about a boy who desperately wants a video game only to discover that it pales in comparison to his own imagination.
A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
The Meanest Thing to Say by Bill Crosby
A children’s story by comedian Bill Cosby about a boy facing peer pressure when his friends play a game where they say mean things to other children.
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
Songs in Ordinary Time by Mary McGarry Morris
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
The Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Which of Oprah Winfrey’s books will you read first?